This is a cross-post from a piece I wrote for GO Media
A few years ago while back home in the US, I hopped in the car with the family to quickly run some errands. Now, you need to understand that I have been in Europe for over 10 years and was not ready for what would happen next—a shopping experience without ever actually touching the ground.
First stop, the drive-thru bank for a bit of cash to continue our convenience tour. Second stop, the drive-thru cleaners—this was even a new experience for me. Third stop, a drive-thru pharmacy to fill a prescription. Last but not least (you guessed it), a fast food joint to cap off the drive-thru tour.
We never left the car…
The weather was nasty and this partially justified sitting in long lines with the car running. Don’t get me wrong, I have often yearned for the chance to do the “never leave the car and get everything done” tour during harsh Swiss winters. It is sad but true, convenience and comfort often rule when push comes to shove.
Lets face it, convenience plays a huge role in much of our decision making. It’s simply difficult to make trade-offs for Green(er) ways like leaving the car in the garage, facing colder weather or accepting that it takes longer to do errands. It is the same for buying Greener products…will we pay more? Or will we accept slightly lower performance to buy Green? Most consumers outside the “Green niche” simply won’t make these trade-offs for Greener products today. Convenience and comfort are huge hurdles that companies need to work around if they want to design products for the sustainable mainstream—that huge mass of consumers in the middle who would happily do their green part if it is convenient for them.
A couple of years ago, a design group called Continuum conducted a year-long research project to try & help explain “the WHY” behind sustainable choices. They named the project Colorblind (have a look at the excellent 1 page graphic explaining their findings here). One finding that stuck out for me was an obvious but often overlooked point that people take on environmental actions for personal reasons and simply care about “their own world” more than “the world”.
Companies making it easier for the sustainable mainstream to choose Green will be winners longer term because that is where the biggest prize resides. But companies will not be the only ones who win, because if the sustainable mainstream buys into Green products “the world” will be better off as well.
Photo Credit Courtesy strangelv via Flickr under Creative Commons License.