Greenatopia is the fictional start-up company Sara Walker works for on ABC's “Brothers & Sisters”. In last week’s episode, Sara and her partners describe their company as follows:
“We're talking about an eco-friendly company with an exciting revenue model. You input your zip code, the product you want, and voila! We give you all your local options. The customer base is there. Everybody's dying to buy local. The starting demographics of a site like Greenatopia are users with an income average of between $150,000 and $200,000 a year. This is a low-cost company with global growth potential. Not to mention, we might actually do some good for the planet.”
I think most people have good intentions and like the idea of buying local, green, and organic, but most do not go out of their way to seek out these options. Other than buying a few tomatoes at the local farmer's market, few people I know make an effort to buy local.
Why don't consumers seek out eco-friendly products?
First, the demographics listed above for Greenatopia users, family incomes between $150,000 and $200,000 a year, are probably realistic. A couple of months ago, I asked a group of women who were discussing healthy food options, whether they bought organic products. Not a one of them did. All of them were concerned with chemicals and food additives being in the food they fed their children, but felt their budgets were stretched just purchasing regular produce, let alone organic.
The second drawback is the time needed to sift through all the purchasing options available. Today's consumer is overwhelmed with choices. It's more convenient to shop at the local Wal-Mart or Costco where most of the items needed can be found and purchased at a low cost. Extra effort is needed to seek out green products.
I think as a society we need to start making more conscious decisions about what and where we buy. We can’t afford to buy the best of everything, so we need to make trade-offs. How many $7.00 shirts from Wal-Mart do we really need? By buying less and making decisions based on need rather than want, we might be able to fit more eco-friendly items into our buying mix. Greenatopia is a clever idea; if the information was easily assessable more people from all incomes would be able to make better choices.