Happy Earth Day!

Posted on April 22, 2011

(My wife & I bought these awesome aladdin® recycled coffee mugs at Target today, just for some free coffee.)

After hearing of Starbucks’ Earth Day promotion (you bring your own mug, get free coffee or tea,) I figured this was one promotion I could not pass up. It has been all over my Twitter feed the past few days and I decided it was something that I wanted to be a part of. Not for the free coffee though. It’s not even that I’m a Starbucks fanatic . (Well, ask me during the winter months when Gingerbread Lattes are on tap and you may get a different answer.) Ever since I landed a Keurig for my kitchen, I’ve cut back on the urge to frequent Starbucks. So why then did I want to participate in this promotion?

If you haven’t noticed, companies have been using Earth Day, well, not as an initiative to save the Earth, but more as a sales boost. “Come in on Earth Day, spend $20, and get a free tote.” How many of these have we seen in the last few years? This is self-promotion at the core and meaningless to the customer. Last year Disney stores gave away free hats (branded) to customers that brought in recyclables. Really? How does this correlate to the concept of Earth Day?

We need to start seeing more meaningful promotions. Be a little creative. Giving the consumer something to participate in doesn’t mean they have to receive something in return. It’s not about materialism. We don’t need more totes. We don’t need more hats or shirts or keychains. We need brands to understand the holiday and make economically friendly contributions. Corporations have the power, pull, and money to make a difference that consumers don’t. I’m talking large scale. Not a tote. Raising awareness on eco topics with brochures, pledge to switch all lighting to LED bulbs, commit to reduce excessive packaging. These are brand and loyalty building concepts that I would stand beside as a consumer.

You tell me that you’ll reduce the amount of plastic bags you use and how, I will shop at your store. You tell me how I can reduce my own power bills or what the difference is between certain types of light bulbs, I will spend money at your store. You give me a tote, I might come in that day, but certainly I won’t feel an attempt to create a valuable consumer experience.

Here are a few that I feel are making a difference this year:

  • Free registered tree give-away (Lowe’s)
  • Free electronic recycling/compost/free yoga (Whole Foods)
  • Green Business Challenge (Office Depot)
  • Installing self-serve electric vehicle charging stations (Macy’s)
So today, I want to thank Starbucks for making me realize that purchasing a recycled eco-friendly mug is something I could personally feel good about. It’s a contribution that I can make instantly, that is ever-lasting, and well, I get free coffee out of it too. Sweet deal.
Happy Earth Day! by

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