Strategies for the Green Economy — the new Joel Makower book

I had the good fortune of seeing Joel Makower speak at a recent Renewable Energy Business Network event. He’s not only an excellent speaker, but an excellent writer. I have been reading his blog, Two Steps Forward, for a while — his simple style draws you in, but unlike many “activist” writers, Makower doesn’t shy away from complexity — presenting numerous sides of every issue in an even-handed manner.

Among the many gems in this book is the appendix, “The Ecological Roadmap — Earthjustice Findings on Environmental Values,” by Cara Pike. This is a MUST READ for green or clean-tech marketers. It presents the results of research into environmental worldviews, breaking the US population down into 10 separate categories and detailing their attributes and beliefs, along with suggestions for what and how to market to each category.

Here are three other gems that stuck with me from Makower’s book, Strategies for the Green Economy: Opportunities and Challenges in the New World of Business.

  • No green deed goes unpunished: Makower gives several examples of organizations that are getting green but cannot publicize their good deeds because doing so would shed light on more significant problems, thus inciting previously untapped criticism from environmental activist groups. This can lead to not talking about environmental efforts, called “greenmuting” by McDonald’s Bob Langert.
  • The Greenwasher in all of us:” Quoting directly, “While it’s generally a good thing to maintain high standards for companies seeking to claim environmental leadership, I can’t help but ponder the hypocrisy of it all — how much more we expect of companies than of ourselves.” Makower goes on to discuss how his audiences are often railing against businesses but rarely implementing greener practices in their own lives.
  • A Tale of Two Circles: This is the title of one of the book’s chapters, which addresses “how the public and companies can focus on a set of environmental issues or aspects of corproate operations that may not necessarily have the biggest environmental impact. And it offers a warning to companies that have been telling the wrong story when the public’s focus changes.” Makower goes on to show how public discourse focuses on the amount of waste that ends up in our municipal landfills. What we don’t talk about is the industrial/commercial/agricultural waste. As the author notes, “It’s only a matter of time before […] the public recognizes that for every pound of trash that ends up in municapl landfills, at least 65 more pounds are created upstream by industrial processes — and that a lot of this waste is far more dangerous to environmental and human health than our newspapers and grass clippings.”

Pointing out these few important pieces of Makower’s work does not do justice to a book that reads beautifully and is literally filled with facts and figures that will make you think, act, and potentially adjust your business and marketing strategies.


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  1. Thanks, Nicolas!

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