Real Men Don’t Do Green?

by | Aug 9, 2011

A recent study found that one of the negative and inaccurate perceptions of green is that “it is feminine and not for men.” As a business person, most definitely male and unquestionably green, I was puzzled when I read that because it is so contrary to what we have experienced since launching our green business almost five years ago.

Green is Asexual

We find that in our green packaging business, we probably have as many male customers as we do female customers. We have however found that their initial motivations may be slightly different. Our female customers appear to be more likely to do green because it is the right thing to do for the environment while our male customers most often are interested in green products for economic reasons.

Please note, I did not say women do not care about green cost savings or that men are willing to rape and pillage the earth in favor of saving a few bucks. What I am suggesting, in this very non-scientific observation and comparison, is that while early drivers may differ, there is in our opinion, equal interest and support for sustainability from both sexes.

I will also add that if the numbers appear at all lopsided in the favor of women, we believe it is because there are more female, green entrepreneurs.  While we are fortunate to do business with some of the largest and smallest green companies in America, we’ve noticed the vast majority of the new, green startup companies are owned and managed by women.

Green Remains a Competitive Advantage

What our male and female customers have in common is a realization that green is:

  • Here to stay because green is an irreversible trend. Even though some large CPG companies selling green products may not have enjoyed the success they anticipated, in most cases it is because the products were not very good, falsely promoted as green, or simply overpriced for a struggling economy.
  • A point of distinction in a highly competitive market. If you think it is a tough time to be selling houses, cars or electronics, try selling soy candles, organic cotton tee shirts or reusable shopping bags. If products are comparable in terms of quality and/or in price, the tie breaker may be the relative greenness, even if it is not connected directly to the product in an area such as process, logistics or, dare I say it, even in packaging.
  • Available, Affordable and Effective. The past perceptions of green products not being available to low volume users and being over priced are simply not true. They may have been a few years ago but increased competition in all green areas have increased selection and availability while decreasing prices.  What is most encouraging is that the quality of those products is steadily improving to the point that most are equal to or better than their non-green competitors.

Why Men Should Care About Sustainability

I confess my worry over the planet was probably first raised by the birth of my son over thirty years ago. However it did not become a major concern and passion for me until our first grandchild was brought into a world seemingly in accelerated environmental decline. Suddenly my worries for a “sustainable” earth extended beyond my own life expectancy or even that of my children, and I began thinking in terms of generations, not decades.

As I worry about yet unborn relatives, I can also contemplate the many things that could be adversely impacted sooner rather than later in a world in short supply of vital resources. The way we all live will undoubtedly change over time as we are forced to take corrective action to repair the harm we’ve all done. Also, considering our government’s new penchant for intruding in and controlling every facet of our lives, we can pretty much bet on increased local and federal government regulation, affecting the “guy things” that I envision changing negatively or even becoming at risk:

  • My lawn and landscaping – the irony of growing, feeding and watering a lawn just so it will grow and I can cut it down to size has not escaped me. Nor has the fact that I pack the lawn clippings into yard waste bags so someone can haul them away for me.  Considering the almost certain water shortage predicted for the near future, my guess is that my grandson will likely never have the pleasure or frustration of making his lawn the envy of his neighbors.
  • Golf – For the same reasons as above, there may come a time when only the very wealthy can enjoy a round of golf and the only area able to support green growth is the green. Imagine a course that is primarily sand and rough, and you’ll also have to imagine me playing there since I have never been able to hit a sand shot or one out of the rough.
  • Sporting events – calculate how much power is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday you will understand why a severe shortage of resources, including electrical power could threaten the variety of spectator sports we all enjoy. As a purist who believes baseball was never meant to be played on artificial grass, it’s sad to think at some point, my favorite sport will only be played on plastic, and the best I can hope for is that it is made of recycled content plastic.
  • Barbequing – “Oh dear God, not my grill” I cried when I first heard about the volume of emissions we all contribute to the ozone layer each time we choose to cook outdoors. Soon after the coal haters get their way, they will undoubtedly outlaw charcoal and then propane, which is of course a non-renewable natural resource. I expect grilling will one day end up on a long list of eco no-nos.

Seriously, none of us really know what sacrifices will be necessary in the future if we aren’t willing to make some minor changes now. Whether we are male or female, we should all be willing, if not eager to make those immediate but relatively minor concessions so others in the future might also enjoy life as we know it.

Dennis writes in the area of sustainable packaging with his work appearing in numerous blogs and magazines, including his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging. Dennis and his company provide custom eco friendly packaging solutions through Salazar Packaging and stock green packaging products via GlobeGuardProducts, which is the first internet store featuring all eco-friendly packaging supplies. Recently Dennis also made news by launching GreenPackagingGroup, which is a B2B packaging blog and directory for eco-minded buyers. He is president and co-founder of Salazar Packaging.

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