I don’t know about you, but when I think about what it means to go green my mind immediately leads me down the path of how new technology will solve all of our problems. I imagine scientists in lab coats reviewing test results of their latest alternative energy experiments, or I picture what it would be like to plug my car into an electricity outlet to charge over night.
If you are a true “Greeny” (is that a term?) that happened to stumble across this blog you are probably already chuckling to yourself about how I fit into the stereotype of people who just don’t get what going green really means. And you would be right to chuckle about it because I’m only now learning that the most effective means of going green are the ones that are the most practical.
The more I got to thinking about what going green really means, I started to see connections to something I think about every day: social media. Generally the discussion around social media is around creating shareable content, identifying influencers, building a social network presence and so on, but that might be coming up a little short. There is a way to make products more social as well. I’m going to dive deeper into that topic in a later post, but for now let me leave it at this: Being green is something that consumers want to advertise about themselves. Therefore, green products are inherently social.
I’ve come across a couple examples showing why we can apply a thing or two from the Green movement to the way we think about social. In both of these examples there is an underlying social element that is interesting to look at.
The Prow Art Space, Gwyneth Leech
In the Flatiron district in New York there is an art exhibit that that features dozens of artistically adorned cups hanging from string in various arrangements that would have otherwise found themselves in a dumpster in a Starbucks near you. The artist, Gwyneth Leech, is saving the remainings of her social meet and greets with fellow artists and friends and transforming them into art.
The telecom company Sprint normally uses the retail space now occupied by the art exhibit to communicate “The company’s commitment to promoting environmental responsibility and balancing technological development with green initiatives.” (via PSFK)
Why This Makes Green Stylish
The message that the little every day things we do that produce waste can be transformed into something awe inspiring is something to think about. The elements of this exhibit are so simple that if I were to describe this out of context you would think it was a crafts project for a 3rd grade class. Instead, it’s taken you three quarters of the way through my blog post to gaze at more pictures.
Why This Is Social
Here’s a description of the process Leech goes through with each cup and why:
“Leech saves cups from her drinks — and occasionally from other artists she meets for tea or coffee — washes, dries them and records on the bottom the date, place, occasion, and drink it held, thus documenting the social moment.”
Catch that last part? Each cup documents a “social moment”. Every single cup suspended so delicately in midair symbolizes a personal interaction, an exchange of stories or ideas, a connection with another human being. All of these social moments are then made into art, and displayed to hundreds of onlookers sparking new social moments, ideas, stories, and connections.
Beyond just the cups that the artist and her friends contribute to the exhibit, fans are welcomed to give their own cups to be made part of the exhibit as well. They can be plain or decorated as the person sees fit. By doing so the personal stories of everyone who contributes to the art, enjoys it in person, or writes about it on their blog (wink) becomes more rich and intertwined to create even more powerful stories and a stronger message.
Jetsam, Eco-Friendly Wallets
I discovered Jetsam through Kickstarter, a crowdsource site used to fund creative projects. Jetsam uses discontinued or cast-off materials to create some stylish wallets that do more than just hold your credit cards. They convey to others that you are behind the green movement. And honestly, what’s trendier than being green?
Here’s a great video that explains more about the product. You can still invest and get your hands on one of the first few billfolds off the product line here.
Why This Makes Green Stylish
As you can see from the design above, the branding is intended to be iconic and stand out. The designer put a lot of thought into the style element of the wallets which is what makes the brands story so powerful. The material is stuff no one wanted anymore, and through creativity and art they it was transformed into a high demand product. That in itself is cool. The fact that the wallets look great doesn’t hurt either.
Why This Is Social
The brand has a message to be told, and the best way to do that is to get people to ask “What’s the story with your wallet?” Because being green is a message that people want to convey, the product itself becomes social. It’s the same idea that fueled the Livestrong bracelets, by wearing that little yellow rubber bracelet you told the world you were believed in something at that conveyed something about who you are. The same principals dictate what we share with our Facebook friends, and what we choose to convey in real life.