Green(d), For Lack of a Better Word, Is Good. Beyond marketing campaigns and good intentions, it is time to look at the greening of America's businesses from the long-standing perspective of supply and demand.
Suddenly, everyone is “green.” A quick scan through leading business publications would leave the uninitiated believing corporate America is hell-bent on solving the global environmental crisis. Yet take a look around – nothing seems to be all that different. Buildings with nobody inside still light up the city skyline; highways are still choked with fuel-inefficient vehicles ferrying solitary souls. So what gives? How is everything the same, while everyone claims to be more environmentally conscious?

One possibility is that corporations, and the advertising agencies they employ, have pushed a green agenda into the mainstream by focusing on the latest hot-button consumer sentiment. An eco-friendly stance is easy to sell, and it is telling that the number of green-focused advertising agencies has grown more than 10x since 2003.1 Clearly, big money is being spent and, as a result, consumers are now familiar with words like carbon footprint, neutrality, and sustainability. But, marketers are also becoming familiar with a different word: “greenwashing.”

If marketing departments are adopting green campaigns because it resonates well with consumers, not because it is supported by corporate action – aka greenwashing – then certainly things do not bode well for the planet. If all this green chatter turns out to be nothing more than a marketing trend, then – as is the case with all fads – it must ultimately fade. So the question that every polar bear, migratory bird, and predatory fish wants to know is: how can the knowledge that mankind needs to do something about the eco-crisis translate into palpable results?

Both the solution and the problem lie in economics.

Today’s industrialized society is governed by the laws of supply and demand. Driven by the pursuit of ever-increasing profit margins, corporations diligently create goods and services to satisfy the demands of the market. Modern society has been blessed by tremendous innovation that has led to unprecedented economic prosperity. However, with this quest to produce, satisfy, and grow has come a deepening dependence on an infrastructure that is extremely damaging to the environment.

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