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September 28, 2007

Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't

After reading Emily and Cooper's great post on the Clinton Initiative yesterday, I’m becoming more convinced that we are the ones the world has been waiting for to kick start climate change – women bloggers. Al Gore suggested that bigger dream:

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We have to go far quickly, and need a mass persuasion campaign to change the climate of public opinion on climate change."

It's interesting that Al said we need a "Marshall Plan" to get this going because he knows that his mass persuasion campaign isn't working beyond creating awareness. Awareness isn't changing into tangible action, not fast enough anyway. And, he's lock-stepped into thinking that politics will set us free. Will it? If so, where's the leadership now?

If you believe the numbers, that we need to get 80% of the CO2 out of the "global" air before things stabilize, you know it will take citizens and corporations alike working on it. How can that happen when governments keep worrying about the seating chart? I keep www.enn.com as my home page. It's frustrating to read about the reality gaps between hopeful and helpful ideas. Meanwhile the climate change clock is ticking.

Let's compare politics with a new idea, and then let's talk about our own Marshall Blogging Plan.

You could lobby for presidential hopefuls to get them into office (2 years). Then send buckets of email and money to Washington get them to put up bills (6 months). Keep sending email to fence-sitters in hopes that they reconsider a vote (3 months). Only to end up with one, watered down incentive to tell business to cut their CO2 emissions? 

OR

Support businesses and products that are already bringing down the greenhouse gases and can prove it, and set off a tipping point for Sustainable change. If you read through the stories on www.ENN.com you'll see a pattern of governments "discussing" and companies "doing." Let's work with the doers.

What would happen if we by-passed this DC middleland? Why tell someone-to-tell-someone-to-tell-someone to clean up their act and eat up years of climate-changing time when we can vote with our purse or our posts and help the market flip with a lot less work?

The good part? It flips the WHOLE world. Laws stop at border lines, corporations and products don't.

By letting Sustainable Standards set the guidelines, we'll accomplish many things at once. The top one being that standards trigger lower energy consumption during manufacturing operations and encourage the use of renewable energy. As more companies back the movement, the technology grows and that comes back to each of us. In five years we could be paying less for energy than today. Technology works faster when supply meets demand. Let's supply them incentives rather than yelling demands. Isn't that more fun than whacking them with a lawsuit after the fact, which just eats up even more years?

The better part? No one will wonder "where the women bloggers are," companies will seek us.

They'll want free word-of-mouth endorsements. And you know what? If we're smart, we'll give it to them. Why? Because it builds both of our markets. They need a consumer market to kick start new, sustainable products, and we need a way to prove to these brave souls that working with blogging women (as a media) is not only fun but a more effective way to market in a social media world. Women represent over 80% of the consumer market. Perhaps it’s time to use that clout for transformational good.

Are you still with me? Here's how simply this can work.

As products become certified as sustainable, that product is acknowledged from bloggers who want to participate. Diane MacEachern will let us know which products to champion over at www.BigGreenPurse.com. This isn't a product endorsement, per se, it's a recognition of a company's efforts to put out a Sustainable product. This is one step beyond the Big Green Purse million women mission. Many of us are already doing the green consumer work; by pulling the work together, we can get the public credit that's due for our efforts. All you have to do is sign up and we'll keep you in the loop.

A sustainable product not only promotes renewable energy, but provides cleaner air, soil, water and keeps 1300 nasty chemicals out of the system AND supports global worker's rights. What's not to love? A cleaner, nicer planet that by-passes politics and creates a social media marketplace. Once companies know that bloggers are actually very nice to work with, they'll feel better about placing paid ad space and continue the relationship.

But wait - there's more... Tom Friedman noted, this is an "Environmental Revolution," which means it's going to be painful and some companies will die. By supporting these early adopters, we can the lower transitional pain and help companies thrive. This program does both, creating a sustainable world and a sustainable economy.

Ok, I'm an idealist, but ya know. We're running out of options.

Everyone is talking, but no one is trying anything new. It's the same old song and frankly, we're all tuning it out. Climate Change as a topic is as exciting as "Got Milk"? It's just another thing - a big, bad scary thing at that. And the truth is, even if we recycled our entire home, the big, bad scary thing would still be there in our factories.

This is the moment to start, and here's why.

If you were a CEO of a company and was just told by Wal-Mart that your products must be sustainable, wouldn't you work EVEN FASTER if you knew that there will be a willing audience to give you positive word-of-mouth on the web for your efforts? (BTW that's exactly what will be happening on Oct. 10th at Wal-Mart's Sustainable Resource Fair, about 1000 of their 62,000 suppliers will be introduced to the world of Sustainability - not just green - but SUSTAINABLE in a “prove it” sort of way.)

Now, before you hog tie me into a Wal-Mart shopping cart and leave me adrift in the parking lot for the crows to pick clean, let me explain.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of any big box stores. I think they strip society of its soul. That said, I've joined the converted when Wal-Mart gave the world this gift of "manufacturing peer pressure." If anyone can influence China, it's Wal-Mart.  If anyone can influence Wal-Mart's vendors, it's us - women consumers. Imagine the ripple effect around the world without one law being used except the law of market pressure, kept honest with a Sustainable Standard. (trust, but verify)

The faster this market flips, the faster we can go back to shopping trips instead of guilt trips. Can shopping/posting save the world? If it creates a tipping point for action it can. Marketers say it only takes 1% of a given population to create a tipping point. If that 1% were also bloggers, it may take less.

I'll leave you with one last reason Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't. If you stacked up the financials of the biggest companies and countries, 77 of the top 100 are corporations. That power structure isn't going to change in the next five years. The majority of them make their money from consumer goods and services. The supply chain of their products is what is causing global warming.

Ladies, this is very doable. By the time we get a new President, s/he won't have to answer to the question, "Why can't you clean up your own country first"? We'll be well on our way thanks to women bloggers.

Are you in? Go to www.biggreenpurse.com and become One in a Million Women. It costs nothing to be part of this very large experiment where women consumers rule.  As products become certified, we’ll show you why they are Sustainable and what to look for in other products. We'll eliminate the greenwash. Then, keep supporting the good guys on BlogHer and in your own blogs when they advertise. Capitalism is just another social "system" with money attached. Let's leverage it to co-create, as Diane says, "The World Women Want."

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Comments

I love this idea and though I agree with everything you're saying - doing things on the local level always works better in the US (read about the solaring of Sebastopol, CA for an example), I hesitate to join in on capitalist greening... Instead of blogging about buying - or alongside blogging about buying - we need to start talking about reducing. It's the first part of the 3Rs and it's the fastest way to green the earth. You don't need that pineapple from Costa Rica in January and you don't need a new sofa because it's so last season, even if they both are organic. Women, we are making 80% of the consumer decisions so we can use our buying power to just not buy.

Mary

Amen to choosing the doers!
One thing though: do you not worry that millions of women consumers are just too attractive a marketing opportunity for companies, and that women could become subverted by the PR missions of eco-marketing departments? Isnt there value in remaining apart from the corporate system?
Morra

C - you're absolutely right, we do need to cut back on "brown buying habits," which includes saying enough is enough. We need to buy things that last a lifetime as well, not a season. That's where buying that one thing that is Sustainable becomes even more important.

Big Green Purse is about, rewiring our everyday, monthly habits as step one, that's why the focus on $1000. It's doable and it's everyday stuff that makes the difference. The 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) are definately part of that.

Meanwhile, if we can combine our small actions with millions of other small actions, we can collectively prove we are a force for change and can take the credit for work well done.

Thanks for your comments. Everyone, please check out Eco Chick's blog. http://eco-chick.com Courtney is weighing in from Germany. This is a world issue after all.

Morra - Thanks for the insightful question. That's the beauty of this. It can't be subverted by the marketing departments. Sustainable Standards, quantify everything from raw materials to recycling/reuse. The Standard is "apart" from the corporate system via third party audits, which puts women apart from the system as well.

For example, Forbo Flooring has Marmoleum(c) with the SMART Platinum rating. It can prove that it impacts the earth about as much as the linseed (flax) fields it came from. That's with all the manufacturing and transportation included in the life cycle. They don't have to court me, I'm more than willing to tell the world about their good work, they earned it and can prove it. Will I buy it next week? No, I don't have a floor to replace, but I'll tell others who might.

Everyone wins on this one - Earth, us and the economy.

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