In the past 5 years we’ve seen an incredible explosion of interest into the world of sustainability and climate change. It started as a switch in the way people thought about the environment and has slowly moved to a transformation in our behaviour and consumption patterns.
It’s widely accepted that we’re having a severe impact on the planet and that we are using our finite resources like oil and coal at a rapid pace, which must be slowed and eventually stopped. But only five years after the sustainability boom it’s now increasingly harder to appeal to any market with the notion of ‘going green’. The sustainable waters have been muddied and it’s only by getting back to basics that the environmental industry may again start to build upon solid foundations.
Why Rebates are Detrimental Long-Term
The first thing anyone asks when they look at energy efficient alternatives in their home or business is about what rebates they are entitled to. Unfortunately, although rebates help promote interest and can nudge some people into making a decision now rather than in the future, they can be an expensive government policy that encourages cowboys and unwinding problems.
With so many companies suddenly bursting onto the scene to fill the demand of rebate hungry consumers, the industry fell from offering a product that suited the needs of these consumers, to selling only the bear minimum of what the rebate required. Not dependent upon individual needs, the majority of new companies in the market found the cheapest product they offer with little regard to the long-term impact to the industry or environment.
Rebates also present another major problem by bringing forward buyers that would have steadily purchased overtime, into a concentration over only a few months. Many genuine ceiling insulation companies went out of business not just because their industry was tarnished by unprofessionalism but also because when they looked up from the stampede, there was very little enquiry behind it.
Everybody appreciates financial help, especially for purchases worth many dollars, but the real reason you should buy something is on the benefit it gives now and into the future. Rebates may be viable for generating interest overall but it needs to be on a more sustainable level to stop fly-by-night companies taking consumers for granted.
Why the Colour Green Makes People See Red
It didn’t take the advertising industry long to realise that the visual branding of the colour green helps companies appear more in touch with nature and accountable for their impact on the planet. But the onslaught on consumers of what was 10 years ago a very unfashionable colour, has made them start to see that even energy intensive corporations and consumerism industries are more about the appearance than actual substantive change.
With the continuation of heavy ‘green’ branding campaigns emerging all the time, people are just starting to realise that it may not be more than a trick of the eye with little change in the background.
Is it really making a difference?
Like all marketing tactics, the sustainability industry is now drowned with the question ‘Are we really making a difference?’ Many people are now questioning the emergence of a perceived unproven industry selling on the back of emotion and societal guilt. People don’t want to pay more unless there is real value in what they are getting and the value may have fallen out of the environmental industry.
Where households were so passionate to get involved and make the investment into Mother Nature a few years ago, that passion has dulled slightly. So how do we make a difference? Like charity, sustainability begins at home, in small but meaningful changes to behaviour and usage. It’s only after then that you can make a well-researched investment into proven products to see what a real difference you can make, away from the sales pitch and hype.