The devil is sometimes green

"Does anyone ever question what green actually means? And why is it so important to just be green. What about how these companies treat their employees, give to their communities or provide more to the world than just another product or service?"

I always appreciate neighborly questions related to marketing. They're the Can I borrow your watering can? and Do you need a hand with your gutter? questions of the ad industry.

Matthew Ammirati asked the green questions today at MediaPost - the "largest and most influential media, marketing and advertising site on the net, providing news, blogs, directories to help our community of more than 100,000 members better plan and buy both traditional and online advertising."

I add MediaPost's bio because that's quite an audience for Ammirati's questions about multi-level moral questions.

Furnaces and everything else
As a consumer, I confess that our recent decision to replace a dysfunctional furnace was only as green as the tax credit we'd get in 2011. I actually do care quite a bit about earth care, partly because so much of my professional life has been based in the outdoors, but also because it is a biblical concern based on one of the earliest commandments and supported throughout the Old and New Testaments. Yet I'm still motivated by what so many green-in-name-only companies know all too well:

I'll buy what complements my wallet.

Ammirati, on a marketing-centric website of all places, calls me and green card carrying companies alike to a more mature treatment of the issue. "[H]ow can we as marketers not succumb to the pressures of green-washing and lend our support to companies that are truly doing good in the world?" he asks. "It comes down to evaluating how a company treats its employees, its impact on the community, and whether the company is a good steward of the environment."

Employee care? Community concern? These are general good will questions and more than typical green questions, but they're also Jesus questions. They have Good Samaritan and foot-washing written all over them. Furthermore, Ammirati isn't a local environmental club spokesperson. He and his company serve "over 350 companies across 55 industries representing over $1.2 billion in revenues." As he puts it, "This is not some hippie, crunchy granola group of activist companies getting together to talk to themselves."

Explicit and implicit faith
I don't know Ammirati's faith background, or whether his Trustee meetings open in a word of prayer. I wouldn't be surprised though if they did. What I do know is that his questions are questions I need to ask more often. And when those questions threaten my wallet, I need to find adequate solutions.

The task of living Christianly as a consumer is near paralyzing, but Jesus knew I'd feel paralyzed in the myriad of decisions to make, didn't he?

Read the rest of Ammirati's article, Is It Enough to Be Green? What about Being Good?

Note on the painting: Wikipedia's caption reads: "In the 15th century 'Saint Wolfgang and the Devil' by Michael Pacher, the Devil is green. Poets such as Chaucer also drew connections between the color green and the devil." The painting jumped out at me with its use of color, especially considering the reactions some in the Church have had to earth care as well as separations others have made from green's biblical roots. Plus it's a particularly bizarre depiction of the devil, isn't it?

5 comments:

Bob Gorinski June 13, 2010 at 2:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Gorinski June 13, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

"They have Good Samaritan and foot-washing written all over them."

They sure do!

Sometimes I get hung up on the possible motives though. I believe that Christs ways are right and true, and businesses would do well in the long run from trying to practice by those principles.

But do we do it because they "work?" Like, it pays to not be a jerk.

"...but the Lord tests the heart..."

thanks Sam.

Sam Van Eman June 14, 2010 at 8:01 AM  

I was talking with a friend yesterday about a similar topic, Bob. We were discussing minority business enterprises and wishing that everyone did their hiring for pure motives and not just to get contract privileges. Here's an example:
http://www.ethnicmajority.com/MBEcontracts.htm

Karyn June 21, 2010 at 11:05 AM  

Sam, thanks for the wisdom of this post. It is overwhelming trying to use my wallet responsibly and in a way that is glorifying to God in purchasing items I need/want. So glad you are tackling this topic with the right balance.

Sam Van Eman June 22, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

Totally with you, Karyn. I have to pick an issue or two to support or a line or two that I refuse to cross. Otherwise, it's impossible to make all of the right decisions all of the time.

I'm glad for the issues you're picking through Delicate Fortress Creations.

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