I've been working with Channel Logic for the past few months which brought me in contact with the Sustainable Furniture Council. During that time it became very clear that no one had a handle on what Sustainability means - not the manufacturers, distributors, retailers, sales people or customers.
The result was Ecolutionary Selling. It's a simple little E-Book primer on Sustainability for the Furniture industry, although 80% of it applies to all products. We're facing an Ecolution for ECOnomics and for ECOlogy, both must evolve together and FAST. Without ECOnomics of sales, the green market and society won't make the turn. Without making the turn with REAL Sustainability at its foundation, we're in deep trouble. Up until now, sales were made at any cost including the cost of the planet's water, air, earth and now atmosphere. Those wasteful ways are over.
For the first time we HAVE to have truth in green advertising and be able to converse with others in the same new language. To say that you're sustainable or make claims that you can't prove is unlawful in the U.S. at best and horrible when taken to the court of public opinion.
That's what just happened to Woolsworth in Australia. The sin? Their toilet paper claimed to be eco-friendly and it wasn't. In fact it was made from illegally harvested wood. No big deal except that illegally harvested wood and the industries it feeds accounts for 30% of the CO2 going into the air. The same issues are true for furniture which is largely made of wood. ( Ecolutionary Selling has a freebie paper on LCAs and Sustainable Standards.)
The other part of the story? IT HAPPENED IN AUSTRALIA and that story is whipping around the marketing world. Lesson learned? Get certified as Sustainable and stay certified. There is no where to hide from bad press and now the Woolsworth toilet paper story is etched into the Internet cave wall as well. I know I'll use it again as an example, how about you?
By the way, I did a little secret shopping as part of the research for the E-Book, this is one of the conversations I had at a major furniture chain store. (I swear I'm not making this up.)
ME: Do you have any green or sustainable furniture?
SALES PERSON: We have some chairs covered in micro-fiber. They're pretty durable.
ME: No, I mean green, eco-friendly stuff.
SALES PERSON: Nope. The only only one that comes close to green is this teal chair.
ME: We aren't communicating. I meant environmentally friendly and something that isn't going to harm the planet if I buy it.
SALES PERSON: Oh, we don't have anything like that, but maybe the store across the parking lot would.
I'm working for the day when:
A) they can show me samples without hesitation.
B) the day when Sustainable Products will be so ingrained that we won't have to ask for them, everything will be Sustainable.
Until then, go to www.biggreenpurse.com and sign up for the $1000 pledge to swap brown buying for green buying. That means you too, marketers. You're citizens of this planet as well.