This morning on NPR I heard a discussion about the term "Green Collar." Already, the term is a phrase that pundits will be discussing. And while it is great that the media is covering more "Green" issues and topics, it would really serve the public to cover these topics regularly throughout the year and in greater frequency. Also, let's not forget that "Green" has been around for decades, but only recently has it become a para-fashion statement so that greater numbers of people can connect to the concept.
One of the questions in this morning's show was whether a "green collar" job is a "blue collar" job in the green industry or more related to working in a green related job function. There was also a concern that this could become a name for something that just re-colors an already low paying job into a socially beneficial one, but still low paying, nonetheless. The problem with defining 'green collar' in association with "white collar" or "blue collar" is that the basic category is not correctly targeted.
The issue should be just "green" and not applied only to jobs. Green is a way of thinking, not a job function, not a company. Green represents fundamental beliefs, awareness, knowledge, respect for the environment, and a certain type of consciousness. One could say my firm is a Green firm and has been for years. Why? Because we will never use toxic pesticides, we recycle, for years we only purchased TCO compliant electronics (before most people even knew what TCO was), our staff eats organically, we only buy recycled paper products and office supplies, our cleaning supplies, soaps, etc. are non-toxic and have no petrochemicals, none of us wear dry cleaned (only Green, wet cleaned) clothing or machine washed clothes, and we would not use VOC's in our living spaces or on anything, instead substituting this for no VOC products. We are primarily a virtual firm, to reduce the need for commuting, which frees up time and reduces traffic congestion for those who cannot walk to our office or need to have time at home.
So does that make us all 'green collared' professionals? I don't think so. We consider ourselves business and marketing strategists and professionals. We do think Green, but only because it is a fundamental byproduct of how we see ourselves in relation to our world, both physically and spiritually. Many years ago, "Pink" became the "New Black." Now Green is the New Black. Let's hope that with the help of the media and government support, Green will become the New Consciousness of the majority of people on this planet. Are we getting closer? I don't know. I've been in stores, especially small ones in certain ethnic enclaves where I had to turn around and walk out because it was clear that pesticides were freshly applied, their fumes still permeating the air with a full store full of customers. There's a certain type of unconsciousness that has to prevail for store owners to not even be aware that they are poisoning themselves and their customers. I mentioned this to a few friends who were recent immigrants and they commented that they even used DDT when they were younger, and had no issue with using the poisons. Part of this is relevance: when you have fled a country to avoid death for just having been born and living in the wrong place at the wrong time, pesticide use can seem trivial. It really is through education, whether via the media or our educational systems, that alternatives to toxic poisons must be conveyed because greater numbers of people can be reached.
I was talking to an artist friend of mine who had solar panels installed many, many years ago, in the 1990's. Despite this being older solar technology, she saves about 30% of her heating bill, which was the purpose of installing the panels. She told me something interesting, that when you use solar panels for this purpose, that a separate holding tank is required. This is because when water is heated through solar panels, the water becomes so hot it would scald a person. You can see the implications here if your building is heated by hot water. With this knowledge, building owners would have more options in making choices that affect them economically.
When I was working on my Marketing Masters, I had the pleasure of taking an Environmental Management course taught by one of our marketing professors. I would say that this was easily one of the best courses I have taken, because of the type of information we learned, the discussions, learning new concepts and ways to apply them, and learning what we didn't know. The latter was perhaps the scariest because this involved learning so much about technologies that reduce energy consumption and energy usage, which weren't new. These were proven technologies that have been in place for years, of which most consumers and business management would have had no clue about.
The implictions for ignorance by management in the business world is huge, simply because the implementation of green technologies can, in one location, greatly effect the lives of many while also reducing businesses expense. Implementing green technologies and green policies in the business place also extends their "marketing" reach to employees, customers, vendors and other stakeholders, including the communities they affect. That is, in marketing terms, is a whole lot of reach. The more Green becomes a state of mind rather than the color of the month, the more environmentally healthier alternatives can flourish and thrive. Don't just think Green. Become Green.