Are we really getting greener?

Today’s SF Chronicle has an interesting article on the growth of the so-called “green economy,” or the sales of items considered to be environmentally friendly (rather broadly defined).

Some of this is no doubt due to a cultural shift. But some of it is, I’m sorry to say, just more clever marketing on behalf of companies whose products are no more “green” than they used to be.

Some of this green spending is also bound to be driven by government incentives designed to encourage such behavior. It would be interesting to analyze trends in spending and see how they correlate to local, state and federal incentives (rebates on energy-efficient applicances, allowing hybrid vehicles to use HOV lanes, etc.).

Unfortunately this apparent greening trend is not reflected in increases in charitable giving to environmental groups. The American Association of Fundraising Counsel estimates that only about 3% of total charitable gifts go to environmental or wildlife organizations. That slice of the pie appears to be holding steady – not increasing.

If the so-called boom in the so-called green economy really reflects a cultural shift, I’d expect to see a boom in green giving, too. We’ll keep working on it.


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