A new report from WWF has put both “green” marketers and “post-environmentalists” on notice. Entitled “Weathercocks and Signposts: The Environment Movement at a Crossroads”, the report demonstrates that it is no longer sufficient to rely on marketing techniques to promote behaviour change for the environment. Instead, it argues that any effective strategy for tackling environmental challenges will require engagement with the values that underlie the decisions we make as well as our sense of who we are. Primarily aimed at NGOs who are seeking to re-define themselves in the era of “green” consumption, the report is a dense, but thought-provoking read and well worth the effort.
In particular, it highlights the fact that communication campaigns for environmental change should “avoid focus on ‘things you can do’” and instead “urge the audience for a particular communication to begin to think for themselves about what they can do. Prompting such reflection may facilitate the integration of these external reflections into a person’s sense of self.” This is wonderful news! No more editorials from Thomas Friedman about the pointlessness of changing lightbulbs because unsustainable behaviours in China will wipe out our efforts! No more “10 easy ways to go green” from the mainstream media? No more discussions around the water cooler on the futility of buying a Prius because of the battery issue?