Selling Environmentalism

Welcome to my post for Blog Action Day. I hope you enjoy it and I intend to put a post with some links to a few of my favorites later this week.  Now onto the post.

I feel sorry for environmentalists. They are constantly working trying to get people to change and so much of the time they just get ignored. Why is that? They forget, they are selling an idea and with that takes some basic marketing. So in order to help here are a few ideas.

  1. Forget saving the planet. In case environmentalists haven’t figured it out yet, appealing to our better nature doesn’t work. We are faced with the end of the world many times a week, we just don’t care about it any more. We can watch world disasters live now, we we tend to be a little emotionally removed after the 50th time of watching dying people on the news.
  2. Be selfish. So instead of trying to save the world let’s try a new angle: let’s encourage people to be more selfish. Trying selling ideas with: save money, save your job, save your family, save your favorite vacation spot from being wiped out by climate change. If you make it personal, people tend to listen.
  3. Offer up WIIIFM. My old rhetoric professor offered up this advise to me years ago and I thank her for it every day: “When you are trying to sell anything to anyone you must address WIIIFM or What is in it for me?” People are naturally self severing, so in order to get them to change you have to offer up some incentive. So don’t tell them to change your light bulb to a CFL to reduce CO2 emissions, instead say “How would you like to reduce your power bill by 35%? If you would, try using a CFL instead of your regular light bulb through out your house.”
  4. Stay grounded in reality. I recently read on a website that some environmentalists wanted to phase out coal power generation to reduce CO2 emissions in Saskatchewan. I laughed at that statement because how insane of an idea it was.  Coal is the base of the entire power generation and distribution network.  You can’t replace it unless you spend billions of dollars and quadrupedal everyone’s power bill.  So instead, let’s try for capturing the CO2 and taking a slightly higher power bill.  If you phase it it slowly, it’s easier for people to accept.
  5. Focus on the war, not the battle.  You won’t win every battle, so don’t take it as a personal defeat.  The idea here is to win the war.  You won’t convince the federal government to change over night, so when they don’t listen change battle plans and focus on your local government.  If you can get them behind you you stand a better chance of winning the war.

So in light of all this I’ve got a challenge for you.  Can you reduce your overall consumption of goods, utilities and services by just $1/day?  It’s not hard, it’s just as simple as putting in a few CFL’s and turning down your thermostat by one degree overnight or stop buying that morning coffee and brewing it at home instead.  I don’t really care what you do, but then take that money and invest it.  From just $1/day at 4% interest for 15 years you will have an extra $7382 to help you retire early.  Not to mention your spending habits will be less which will also accelerate your retirement date.  Now that is a goal I would like to work towards!

2 thoughts on “Selling Environmentalism”

  1. Point #3 – (whats in it for me?) is probably the most important one you made. I am part of a movement that focuses just on that – Selfish environmentalism.

    It’s not enough, at least in a capitalist society, to expect people to commit actions that benefit the greater good if there is nothing more in it for them other than that warm fuzzy feeling you get for knowing (or thinking that) your doing something good for others / the planet. The old ways of environmentalism have tried that tactic for 50+ years with little change.

    If you want to save the environment and find out whats in it for you you can check us out at:

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