It's Still Cool to Be Green

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Have you caught the out with the old, in with the new bug that always seems to go around this time of year? With resolutions to maintain (you haven’t forgotten what you promised Jan. 1, right?), sloughing off old habits is a refreshing detox for your outlook on a new year and a new you.

With all this self-examination, where does being green fit in? Are you jumping into ’09 with one foot in the compost pile, or are you jaded from all the greenwashing that’s been going around?

The reusable shopping bag industry is getting a boost with recent plastic bag regulations. -Get Hip Get Green

The reusable shopping bag industry is getting a boost with recent plastic bag regulations. - GetHipGetGreen.com

Don’t Lose Heart, Trendy One

Here’s both the good and bad news about the eco revolution: everyone is doing it. Everyone. Businesses and people that you never dreamed in a million years would cross over are suddenly recycling and calculating their carbon footprint.

How do you feel about that? Have you lost some of your uniqueness now that all your friends and family are buying the same hybrid you have? Are they all carrying your favorite “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” reusable bag, making you part of the crowd instead of a one-man army?

Don’t look at this growing popularity as a negative. In fact, the mainstream accessibility of all the things you longed for once upon a time is the result of all your hard work.

Triumphs In Eco

People and organizations across the globe are jumping on the bandwagon. Some estimates list the green industry as a $209 billion market that could grow to $1 trillion by 2030. Eco sells.

The good thing about the popularity of earth-conscious business is that it’s making companies and industries work harder to stand out amongst their competitors. Carbon footprints are being lowered, alternative energy is being developed and minimized and recycled packaging is all the rage. Just think about all the new jobs that are looking to be created, the plastic bag regulations states are enacting and the desire to make everything from datacenters to light bulbs more energy-efficient.

Watch out for Leo DiCaprio & other celebs in new green cars. - Tesla Roadster

Watch out for Leo DiCaprio & other celebs in new green cars. - Tesla Roadster

On this same thread, even in a down market, executives are still planning on increasing their budget for eco-oriented spending. In a study recently conducted by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management, 40 percent of executives surveyed indicated that it is a “good time” for all businesses to adhere to the highest possible environmental standards.

Eco-celebs also continue to sprout up. Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased a Tesla roadster, Olympic track star Usain Bolt is starting a fashion line using organic cotton and earth-friendly inks, Jay Leno is installing a wind turbine in his house, and even Miss America is following the trend: Vermont’s candidate will wear an evening gown made of hemp, organic cotton and silk and recycled beading and lace.

Another plus to the gaining popularity of the movement is that consumers are more knowledgeable and discerning than they were previously. As the world’s buying power becomes more educated on the finer points of verdant purchasing (for example, knowing the difference between recycled content and post-consumer content), their decisions to buy environmentally responsible products are cycling back to the companies producing them.

On the educational front, sustainability programs are popping up around the country and colleges and universities are becoming more earth-friendly than ever. Arizona State University started the first School of Sustainability in the nation, and professional certifications are popping up in a wide variety of institutions. Want to earn your Certificate in Sustainable Supply Chain Management? There’s a program out there for you.

Not Green? Not Cool.

Another indicator that green is still cool? “Un-green” things are not cool. With green sectors gaining in popularity and market share, their conventional counterparts are losing revenue to eco-friendly versions of their products and services.

While the word “green” may be passé, the concept is not. According to Adam Vaughn, editor of SmartPlanet.com, “Green may no longer be deemed cool by some early adopters, but the fact green living is now seen as admirable and normal is a sign that it’s achieved a lasting kind of ‘cool’. Hopefully we won’t need the word in the future – normal will have become cool.”

Perhaps what we need is not a new trend, but a new word. Any suggestions?

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