I came across the term “green-streaming” while I was looking into the connection between Burt’s Bees and Clorox. It refers to the goal of making “green” mainstream.
I’ll use Burt’s Bees and Clorox as an example of how this can be done well. Clorox bought Burt’s Bees in 2007, right around the time they launched their Greenworks line, as a part of their effort to become a more environmentally friendly company. They run Burt’s Bees as a separate entity keep it true to its original ethics – environmentally friendly, community friendly, cruelty-free etc. At the same time, Clorox itself was bringing their business practices up to similar standards. They do still test on animals, but they only do it when required by the FDA. Greenworks has become a strong mass-market green option, and their products are safe and biodegradable. I can even remember when they tried selling their cleaners as an empty spray bottle with a packet of concentrate, with more concentrate available separately, to encourage people to stop buying a new spray bottle every time and lessen their plastic waste. Apparently people weren’t ready for that, since I haven’t seen them in a while, but it is encouraging to see large companies trying to change the market for the better.
When people called Burt’s Bees a sellout and complained about their beloved small company being bought by Big Business, others pointed out the advantages of the situation. With the larger parent company, Burt’s could have more products in more stores. With more exposure, more people would switch to earth-friendly products and other companies would see that this is what people really want. In theory, we are at the beginning of a great consumer domino chain that will end with the planet being a better place. In the meantime, though, if you buy Burt’s Bees a small portion of your money is still going to a company that uses practices you may not approve of.
On the one hand, I believe this is true. The average consumer is fairly middle-of-the-road when it comes to going green. They think it’s a good idea, but they do not have the time, money or energy to go out of their way to do so. These are the people I’m trying to reach with Consumer Goes Green. It’s my way of saying, “Look! This stuff is in your grocery store. You can go green(er) without going out of your way!” The only reason I can say this is because green has become more mainstream.
On the other hand, the argument kind of sounds like a great big justification to keep buying something you like, now that it is owned by someone else.
I want to know what you think about all this. Do you think that buying from a green subsidiary like Burt’s Bees or Tom’s of Maine (owned by Colgate) gives you a more direct line of communication with the big bosses about what we want, or are you in favor of a complete boycott to show them that we would rather go small and 100% green until Big Business stops harmful practices altogether?