This is an article I wrote several years ago, but with a few minor changes, it still applies to the nursery and landscape industries…maybe even more with the downturn in sales. The green industry needs to market its “greenness!”
Point Tipped…Going Green
By Miles McCoy
Even that wild-eyed, business-entertainer Jim Cramer has gone green.
It was a big turning point for the popular investment show host. He had long discouraged any investment in “green” companies because they did not have a sound financial underpinning.
That changed with recent Supreme Court decision…a true tipping point. (more on that later) The Supreme Court’s decision essentially changed the pollution playing field by declaring that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant.” It thus falls under the Clean Air Act and can be regulated by both the EPA and states. A Business Week’s article stated, “The door is now open for new lawsuits against companies that emit carbon dioxide.”
Strong stuff, but seemingly not unanticipated within the US or world business communities.
In fact, a former chief economist at the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, recently wrote in a Business Week column (4/16/07 – p. 90), “reducing carbon emissions is a pro-growth strategy, not an economic burden.” There is more evidence as companies as diverse as Goldman Sacs and Wal-Mart have announced major “green” efforts within their structure.
This change continues to be driven more by consumers and popular media. Vanity Fair just presented it second annual “green” issue, while a recent Newsweek cover features California’s green governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A week earlier, the magazine’s “Tip Sheet” gave readers advice on creating a “greener garden,” with facts on native plants (another topic!), saving water, composting, mulching, and organic pest/weed control. A recent New York Times article on organic lawn care asked “are bugs the pests, or humans?!” Consumers are speaking at the cash register, demanding safe, natural products to care for their landscapes. More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile, green buildings are all the rage, with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification now crucial, and even mandated, for new construction. While much of the green technology has little to do with our industry, we are seeing a greening of our roofs. These roofs are sold as offering environmental solutions. They may only develop a minor, niche for growers, but their concept of marketing may give the overall green industry some viable advertising themes.
For instance, should we encourage homeowners to include landscapes that handle the run-off from their home and driveways? Green roof activity is often driven by storm-water runoff control, using the roof’s plants and soil to hold back large rain events. Portland has gained a national reputation for creating what an Oregonian editorial recently described as our “greener, gentler streets,” where run-off swales are actually built into the streets. So, maybe the industry can promote ponds and swales with their water-loving plants; or pervious driveways that use tough, low-growing plant choices. New environmental options will often require our plants.
Tags:bio-retention ponds, bioswales, carbon sequestration, environmental benefits of trees, environmental trends, green marketing, green practices, green roofs, green walls, greenwashing, healthy landscapes, landscape contractors, landscaping, native plants, natural landscaping, organic gardening, Sustainable landscape, sustainable nursery, urban storm water