Feature Article - March/April 2008

Green Motivations

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Merchandise Into Your Program

By Emily Tipping

fter nearly 30 years of celebrating Earth Day, which is observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people around the world, it doesn't hurt to look back on the words of the holiday's founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. He said, "The most important environmental issue is one that is rarely mentioned, and that is the lack of a conservation ethic in our culture."

The good news is that the conservation ethic whose absence Nelson bemoaned is growing. By hook or by crook—or by rising energy costs and falling water and air quality—people around the world are hopping on the environmentally friendly bandwagon in ever-increasing numbers.

Take hybrid cars, for instance. According to a recent Maritz Poll, consumers who are giving strong consideration to hybrid technology for their next vehicle purchase nearly doubled between 2004 and 2005. What's more, of the respondents who said they would give equal or more consideration to buying a hybrid, the majority—85 percent—said they would also pay more.

What does this have to do with your plans for incentive and reward programs for your employees, your business partners, your sales force and your customers? The factors that motivate people to move to hybrid cars are the same factors motivating them to go green across the board, and you can harness these motivating factors to get the results you want. These motivations include rising energy costs, a desire to reduce pollution, a desire to reduce Americans' dependence on foreign oil, the availability of tax credits and the enjoyment of the latest and greatest technology.

What is the lesson here? People are ready to go green now, and anything you can do to help them may prove to be the motivational strategy you need to reach your business goals, whether that means improving sales, boosting employee morale, or actually incorporating a corporate environmental responsibility strategy at your own workplace.