The 5 weirdest Earth Day pitches of 2017
Like it has done to all good ideas, consumer culture hijacked Earth Day.
The first Earth Day took place April 22, 1970, as a protest using the momentum of the U.S. anti-war movement to illuminate the link among industry, pollution and human health. The second official Earth Day, in 1990, was meant to challenge growing corporate control over the energy industry and public policy. It spawned the notion of "greenwashing."
It also spawned the start of green-is-good marketing campaigns (it came at the end of the go-go, "greed is good" 1980s). Sure, industry is responsible for reducing pollution and ensuring sustainability, but marketers saw in Earth Day a chance to sling more products we didn’t know we needed — leveraging the emotional punch of climate change and endangered species to reach into our hearts and wallets.
Continuing our tradition of years past, here is a loving roast of five well-intentioned product pitches (and one simply bizarre one) that made the GreenBiz editor inbox look like the SkyMall of eco-groovy goods.
If we had beards, we actually might not mind receiving this product as a gift for our morning routines. Especially because it comes with a bag of coffee.
A company out of Minnesota — where beards guard against the winter cold, so maybe the founders know something about the hirsute market that we don’t — married luxury men’s skin care with sustainable coffee and eco-friendly packaging and called it an "essential" product. Honour promises to change your "mundane wake-up routine" (a cuppa, then e-mail) to an "uplifting transformative ritual" with a (not-so) secret ingredient: sustainably sourced Costa Rican coffee oil.
The coffee-laced men’s skin creams are shipped in little pods to refill an aluminum container, packed along with a bag of sulfate-free beans. But can you recycle the cups they come in? Can you compost their peel-off lids? Will the extra caffeine give us unlimited energy to talk about the importance of recycling? We feel buzzy just thinking about it.
We suspected we might be approaching peak online activism when we received this pitch: "This Earth Day, you don’t have to get out a shovel and dig a hole or pay to plant a tree." All you have to do is tweet the hashtag #OneToastOneTree.
Thanks to social media, it has become easier than ever support a cause with the push of a button — and no real action. So if you want to get involved without getting your hands dirty (or your wallet empty), tweet the hashtag and have someone do it for you. In this case, Toast, an Oregon-based manufacturer of bamboo smartphone cases.
To be fair, Toast has planted nearly 24,000 trees through its partnership with the Trees for the Future charity and gives 1 percent of its net profits to environmental organizations. We'll toast to that.
We’ll sleep on it
You don’t have to feel guilty for waking up late anymore. One San Francisco-based company is offering the "first ever" circular economy product for your bed.
Coyuchi is cashing in on the billion-dollar subscription box market by providing customers with new organic towels, sheets and duvets every six to 24 months. Subscribers do have to pony up monthly, so basically, the company is making money while you sleep.
Old linens are returned and renewed, upcycled or processed into new yarn, keeping used textiles out of the waste stream. But why do sustainable sheets only come in white, beige and gray? Being green doesn’t have to be monochromatic.
Barking up a tree
Okay, this was sort of the class pet. Perhaps animals should be fed the same organic food that health-obsessed humans choose, but the pitch for Zuke’s natural dog food company (part of the Pet Sustainability Council, awww) was more about the wellness of the people who work for the company.
Zuke’s reps reached out to inform us that its headquarters run on completely renewable energy sources and that its products are sold in (mostly) recycled packages. Employees are given $1 credit daily for choosing alternative methods for their commute, such as walking or biking.
We couldn’t help going into an existential funk about who is really in most need of a walk — our pets, or us working types who are chained to our desks and apparently need to be paid to go outside?
Rolling in stitches
Is it a horseshoe? A bocce ball? A bowling game? Rollors combines the best of all three, claiming to be the newest thing in lawn games. And what could be greener than that?
So, what exactly makes this product "good for the environment"? Rollors' discs and goalposts are made of sustainable New Zealand wood. The manufacturers may have not thought about the carbon costs of shipping all that wood halfway across the globe.
And for a retail price of nearly $50 for an item that’s likely to end up in the discard pile shortly after your child opens the box to a shiny new drone, you may as well donate the cash to an environmental organization.
Kill me now
This wasn’t exactly Earth Day-pitched, nor was it a product, but it was sent to us close enough to the Earth Day that it qualifies, and it was plenty weird.
The Asian Art Museum’s upcoming panel of design experts discussing sustainable "new ways of dying" — the oldest environmental activity in history — is food for thought about how corpses can feed cities, including "bodies lighting up the Brooklyn Bridge to city parks fertilized with remains." You read it here first.
Balancing space and resource shortages in demanding, rapidly-growing cities is something we like to think about, albeit not in such morbid detail. At least this project doesn’t seem to suggest that the planet would be better off if people just — disappeared.
For now, we'll just take the dogs for a long walk in the woods, then take a nice organic nap. Happy Earth Day.