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The Green Life: The Green Life: Still Just for Hippies?

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April 21, 2011

The Green Life: Still Just for Hippies?

Hippie It’s easy — and popular — to say you live the green life. But is greenness really mainstream? A new study suggests that many Americans resist adopting a green lifestyle even if they’re theoretically in favor of it.

The reason? Eco-friendly products, despite their apparent popularity, are still perceived as being too “crunchy granola hippie” by 66% of Americans, according to research done by marketing firm OgilvyEarth.

Dudes in particular are finding the green life hard to swallow: 4 of 5 men described going green as "more feminine than masculine." Apparently, reusable shopping bags feel a little too much like a man purse.

The result, said study author Freya Williams, is that the cultural sea change toward green living might be more talk than walk. "The intentions are very strong, but the actions don’t seem to be following through. This is what we call the 'green gap,'" she said. That gap comprises the big chunk of the population (that 66%) whose views on green living fall somewhere between the "Super Green" and the "Green Rejecters."

These middle-of-the-roaders don’t actively support the green movement but don’t resist it either. And the national obsession with greenness leaves many of them feeling alienated, said Williams: "We’re putting green leaves all over things, there are polar bears in all the ads, and these are things that cue off to the average American, 'These are for those people who really care about the environment, which isn’t me, my concerns are much more day-to-day.'"

Williams argues that for eco-living to really appeal to Average Joe and Jane, the lifestyle needs to become more normalized, which means taking the focus off greenness itself while still building sustainability into businesses and policies. She said, "Our recommendation is, lose the crunch. Stop putting everything in burlap."

--Tim McDonnell

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