June 16, 2009 at 6:46 am Leave a comment

I’m a fan of Zoe Weil, author and creator of Humane Education.  Today she hit the nail on the head with her critique of cause marketing (you know, when you buy a product where some of the proceeds go to a charity).  I am definitely a partaker in the cause marketing machine.  I often chose the product — the organic t-shirt at my favorite eco-store or the salad dressing at the natural food store — that has a give-back.  But what Zoe wrote is so obvious — and actually so much truer to what I am trying to do with Having Enough — that it has given me a major a-ha moment.

I have been feeling lately that I need to cut down on consumption, and assuaging this nagging feeling by buying green or “charitable” products is fooling myself.  It’s still stuff that I likely can live without.  I’m still buying, still adding stuff to an overstuffed cabinet.  Just because the stuff seems “worthy” doesn’t mean that I should get the stuff.  If I’m honest, I wouldn’t necessarily need all the stuff anyway, so cause marketing gives an excuse to buy stuff I may not have bought.

Zoe uses the term “greenwashing” in her post.  Forgive me if I’ve been under the rock of pregnancy/childbirth this past year, but it was a new term to me.  The concept, though, is familiar.  The idea that green is hip — great, except it is often being taken advantage of to fuel the consumer machine.

Last year, I was offered a shot at a lucrative writing assignment for a disposable diaper company who wanted a “lite green mom” to blog regularly about eco issues for the diaper company’s web site.  Did they have a new disposable diaper that was biodegradable or at least made without chlorine bleach, or some new alternative diaper? What was green about their disposable diapers? I inquired.  No response, and no job for me.  I deduced that “lite green” meant someone who was willing to promote the worst kind of landfill-clogging disposable diapers without asking these (obvious!) questions. But, if they have a “green mom” blog, people could somehow feel better about buying their un-green product??  Greenwashing, yes.

Once again, I see the need to look beyond the obvious.  I saw clearly the hypocrisy on the writing assignment, but I had not before stopped to think deeply about the “other side” of cause marketing and my own role in it.  Living and learning.  And next time I’ll think twice…


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Death Becomes Us Pretending to Be Asleep

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Blog Mission

To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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