Part 1: It’s Not Easy Defining Green

In recent years, the conversation about the relationship between humans and planet Earth has grown louder, and there’s no shortage of impassioned speakers: environmentalists, farmers, mothers, alternative energy proponents, special interest groups, protesters, minorities, liberals, hippies…. The list goes on, with new sincerely voiced subsets regularly joining the discourse.

This is becoming one of the largest movements the world has ever seen. The regard for our future as a single community crosses geographic and cultural boundaries, encompassing a large segment of the global population. The group concerned with what’s in our air might not have crossover membership with the group concerned with what’s in our food, but there’s a vague understanding that they’re cut from the same hemp cloth.

 
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People with a general eco-centric proclivity are often collectively referred to as “green”—and that’s part of the problem this movement faces in developing the focus it needs to build momentum. There are identifiers for the many parts, but not for the sum. There is, however, a commonality among them: to varying degrees, they are all consumers. And what sets some of them apart in the economic engine is the level of deliberateness they apply to what they buy: its origins, its ingredients, its sustainability.

Meet the Conscious Consumers. They’re skeptical of big brands and big business. They shun the traditional consumer approach of shopping only by price, quality, and brand loyalty. Yet the two Conscious Consumers filling their reusable shopping bags with locally grown organic apples might have entirely different motivations: One is sensitive to the ecological impact of industrial pesticides in agricultural runoff on water resources, and the other has a child with food allergies.

They might even smile at each other, sharing a power-to-the-people moment, even though they don’t know why. Such is the challenge the whole movement faces, as does our effort to reach them. We’re all speaking the same language, but dozens of dialects splinter the discussion. Nevertheless, saving the planet isn’t getting easier and the movement isn’t getting quieter—the Conscious Consumer will be heard.