an extra glance

There is a topic that is interesting to me and has been showing up at my every turn since August 2018. I want to share it with anyone who might be interested, because if you (like me) didn’t ever…


独家优惠奖金 100% 高达 1 BTC + 180 免费旋转

How to Turn Our Society Into Pragmatic Environmentalists

As time passes and the Earth succumbs to more and more of the effects of climate change, I’ve found myself asking, as I’m sure countless others have as well, ‘how do we get more people to care about the environment?’ Surely people around them see all of the wildfires, hurricanes, bomb cyclones and such that are very quickly becoming a normal cycle in our yearly life. So why do more people not care about the environment and preventing climate change?

The answers to that question are numerous, and it’s hard to truly know the answer as each person’s answer will be different. But I think focusing on the why and trying to change people’s mind is not a good idea and will be fruitless. Instead, if we want people to change their behaviors to be more “eco-friendly”, we have to remove the “eco” factor from the equation. Environmentally-friendly behaviors and choices need to be “normalized” so that people are making the switch not because of the environment, but because it is the right decision for themselves personally. In some cases, they may not even know that what they are doing is eco-friendly. They are simply making a behavior change, or purchase decision, because it is the right decision for their family, lifestyle, wallet, what have you.

This is what I call Pragmatic Environmentalism: making environmentally-friendly choices accessible to everyone because they are easy, convenient, worthwhile and, perhaps most importantly, affordable.

Two examples to make this point: the first one is solar power. Everyone knows that using solar energy is incredibly beneficial for the environment because it is practically emission-free, especially compared to using coal and gas for energy. But putting solar panels on your roof is expensive and it takes many years, even decades, to recoup your investment. As a society, we needed to come up with different, sometimes clever, solutions to get people to adopt and buy in to this technology. How can we get more solar panels installed without the customer having to spend a lot of money upfront? Companies came up with creative “zero money down” financing options, or options to lease or rent panels. These are great ideas, and certainly made an impact, but still cost consumers a lot of money in the long-term. It didn’t hit any of the four tenets of Pragmatic Environmentalism: easy, convenient, worthwhile and affordable. It wasn’t easy because you go through the same loan process as buying a car, which also made it inconvenient. It had a vague promise of lower energy bills over time, but not enough to be truly worthwhile. And it wasn’t affordable because there was a monthly fee attached to it.

The best implementation of bringing solar energy to the masses that I have seen is in Maine (where I live). Through a variation on community solar programs, companies like Maine Community Solar are bringing Pragmatic Environmentalism to everyone. Here’s how it works: Customers signup to use solar energy from one of the many solar farms around the state. Each solar farm can support a certain number of people. The signup process is simple and only requires your utility account to be connected to Maine Community Solar, which they do for you. Customers who signup are given a flat 15% discount on their power bill. Pretty great, huh?

It’s easy because signup is simple and doesn’t require you to install any solar panels yourself. It’s convenient because they do most of the work for you and do a good job of getting in front of customers throughout the state. It’s worthwhile because it helps to promote solar power usage and lower emissions. And it’s affordable because there is no cost at all to the consumer, and on top of that they SAVE 15% on their power bill every month. How could I say no to this program? Even if I didn’t care about the environment, I would signup because I like to save money without having to do anything at all. Score one for the environment and my wallet. That’s Pragmatic Environmentalism.

My second example is laundry detergent sheets. If you’re unfamiliar, detergent sheets contain all of the soap for washing your clothes in a tiny sheet. They work exactly the same as traditional liquid or powder detergent. The big difference is that they are extremely lightweight and aren’t sold in a plastic jug. This helps to drastically cut down on plastic waste, and saves a lot of gas by not having to transport heavy plastic jugs of laundry detergent (essentially jugs of soapy water) from the factory to the warehouse to the store to your home.

I love the concept of detergent sheets. Full disclosure, I loved it so much that I started my own detergent sheet business (Spot Detergent). I saw this as the perfect way to practice Pragmatic Environmentalism and hopefully inspire other businesses to adopt the same practices. Detergent Sheets have been around for several years, but there was something missing that was preventing its widespread usage. Detergent Sheets are easy to use, just take a sheet and throw it in your washing machine. No need to measure, pour and spill liquid detergent. It’s convenient because they are so lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space in your home. It’s worthwhile to use them because it means plastic ends up in a landfill or the ocean without changing anything about your laundry routine. However, like many eco-friendly products, Detergent Sheets have not been affordable or accessible. It’s much cheaper to go to the average grocery store and buy liquid detergent than to buy detergent sheets.

In my opinion, this is the biggest obstacle that we face in “normalizing” eco-friendly changes. It can be easy and convenient, but if it’s expensive, most people will not buy it. I believe that a big part of normalizing eco-friendly products is making them cheaper than traditional detergent. If we as a society want eco-friendly products to take over and remove plastic-heavy items from store shelves, they have to be affordable and in most cases cheaper than the traditional product.

So that’s what I did with my company. We made them lower priced than just about any other laundry detergent on the market. What was very discouraging to find out what was that detergent sheets are actually very cheap to produce, and the other brands that are charging $10–20 per pack are simply gouging their customers. Not only is that taking advantage of them, but it’s frustrating because it perpetuates the idea that eco-friendly products are always more expensive. That doesn’t help anyone, and makes it harder for people to switch to eco-friendly products. I appreciate that these companies are promoting an environmentally-friendly alternative to laundry detergent, but their impact is so much smaller because only a fraction of the population can/will pay for it. I encourage all of them to join me in making eco products affordable so that we can maximize our impact on plastic usage and climate change.

My dream is that in 5 years, all of this will be normal and just a part of everyday life. Community solar programs will be the norm, everyone will be using solar because it’s the right thing to do for the environment and their wallet. Products like detergent sheets will be everywhere, people use them because they’re more affordable and better for the environment. I want other products as well to follow this approach. What about shampoo bottles, or deodorant sticks? How many bottles of shampoo and plastic deodorant packs are thrown away every year? A staggering amount. I know environmentally friendly options exist, but they are way overpriced. I saw a refillable non-plastic deodorant stick online that was $14. I’m sure there are plenty of people who have and will continue to buy these, and that’s great, but they will never reach mainstream shoppers. Only with a price that is similar to traditional offerings, and packaging that is also accessible to everyone, will they make a real dent in plastic waste (packaging design is a whole different subject that prevents eco products from being accepted by mainstream shoppers, but this article is long enough as it is so I will cover that another time).

I hope Pragmatic Environmentalism makes sense to everyone and is seen as a worthwhile way to improve the effectiveness of diverting plastic from landfills. Let’s focus less on converting people to our way of thinking, and instead focus on normalizing eco-friendly actions. It’s a lot easier this way…

Add a comment

Related posts:

Queen Letizia Style In Elegant Red For Palace Audience

January is usually a slow week on the royal front. We do not get many out of the glass activities and Queen Letizia of Spain’s schedule this week is proof of that. The Spanish Queen today received…

PLAAK Launches Highly Anticipated ICO Backed by the First Decentralized Freelance Market App

The PLAAK App ecosystem aims to give control back to Tradies and consumers alike by enabling Service Provider to choose their work hours and giving as much information as possible about the Service…

Structured Ideation and Refinement

When doing this I tried to pick functional requirements that I felt like helped the process of what my idea was and finding fun design embodiments that fit each requirements. Each of the functional…