For those of you who do not know, I am an environmental investigator with the State of Texas. I grew up on a dairy farm, which is one of the closest ways to have a relationship with nature, and I majored in environmental and international studies in college. I recycle and I regulate air polluters. In other words, I care about our environment. With the Copenhagen Climate Summit taking place, I thought it would be a great time to talk a bit more about this passion of mine.

As a person who cares, I am here to tell environmentalists that their messaging about being good stewards of the earth is all wrong for their target audience, who are people who do not care about the environment (or who do, but do not wish to express it through lifestyle changes).

Commercials, newspaper articles, and movies about global warming are wasted PR and marketing opportunities for two reasons: environmentalists all ready buy into these concepts and are reducing their use of products, carpooling, recycling, etc. without this added advertising, and people who do not care about the environment are completely unmoved to do anything from the purely environmental viewpoint expressed in the media.

So, how should environmentalists market to their target audience (i.e. the people who have not yet changed their habits)? Motivate them through cost savings.

There is a direct correlation between the lives of frugal people and people who care about the environment, yet this is hardly ever discussed. In essence, both groups of people seek to minimize their use of a finite amount of resources. By reducing consumption, reusing, and recycling, people save money while at the same time minimize their carbon footprint. Save money while simultaneously conserving the planet’s resources? Count me in.

Reduce and Save Money

  • Carpool, take a bus, ride a bike, and save money on gas as well as cut down on carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and ground level ozone creation
  • Use dish towels as often as possible to reduce number of expensive paper towels (which are becoming more and more like mini-dish towels with the quilting patterns and increasing thickness) and save on trees and reduce the amount of pollutants produced in the making of paper
  • Purchase energy efficient bulbs to use less energy to light your apartment or home to reduce your electricity bill and to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions
  • Make less food, or utilize your leftovers in new recipes (or just like they are—I find spaghetti and meatballs always tastes better on the second day!) to save you time, money and energy used to produce and transport the food

Reuse and Save Money

  • Buy a  BPA-free water bottle and/or a water filter pitcher and fill it up instead of purchasing bottled water to save you money and to use less petroleum as well as to stop sending so many plastic bottles to the landfills
  • Swap books between friends and family to save you money and to cut down on the loss of trees
  • Purchase a lunch bag to take to work each day instead of using plastic bags or paper bags

Recycle and Save Money (or in some cases, make money!)

  • In states with bottle deposits, take your plastic bottles back to the distributor and cash-in
  • Check to see if your local trash collector rewards you to recycle
  • Scrap metal such as old appliances, coke cans, hangers

If environmentalists made more of an effort to realize that many people are not environmentally-motivated, but virtually everyone is financially-motivated, then their message would reach their target audience and result in more behavioral changes at a much faster pace.

Who can argue against changes that will make you save money?

8 replies
  1. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    You are so right. Financial motivation is the main reason my husband and I make postive environmental changes…we are the target audience.

    We bought a Prius since my husband drives a lot and the Prius had the storage capacity he needed…$45 a month on gas for a vehicle that was less expensive than the small SUV’s he was looking at…it was a no brainer.

    We replaced our light bulbs to save on the electricity bill.

    We do not have recycling pickup where we live, but we do save all of our aluminum cans simply because I like turning them in for cash every year.

    We save all of our newspaper to donate it to animal rescues for their puppy cages…emotional motivation.

    In short, I do believe that you are spot on. People who are environmentally motivated do not need to be convinced. Everyone else can concentrate on the financial and emotional motivations…they can be economical and ecological at the same time. 🙂

  2. Ken Houston
    Ken Houston says:

    You state you grew up on a “dairy farm” and had a “relationship with nature” and “care about our environment.”

    Nice marketing gimmick, but reality is very different.

    The picture on many milk cartons shows cows grazing on a pasture next to a country barn and a silo — but the reality is very different.

    More and more milk comes from confined animal feeding operations, where large herds live in feedlots, awaiting their thrice-daily trip to the milking barn. A factory farm with 2,000 cows produces as much sewage as a small city, yet there’s no treatment plant!

    Across the country, dairies are coming under increased criticism for polluting the air and the water.

    Everyday, an average cow produces six to seven gallons of milk and 18 gallons of manure. For example, Texas has over 380,000 milk cows. That totals 6.8 million gallons of manure in the state every day. It’s enough to fill up over 10 Olympic-size pools. Every single day!

    On Dairy Row along Interstate 10 between Las Cruces, N.M., and El Paso, Texas, more than 30,000 cows live in 11 farms located one after the other.

    In the past four years, the EPA has repeatedly cited these dairies for violating the Clean Water Act because manure-laced stormwater was washing into tributaries of the Rio Grande.

    Reality is the following quote, “You hear it often in community meetings. People describe that maybe five, six, seven years ago they could go out in front of their home and enjoy the afternoon, eat some food,” says community organizer Arturo Uribe, in the middle of Dairy Row. “But now what these folks are saying is when they go out there, there’s too many flies.”

    The picture on many milk cartons shows cows grazing on a pasture next to a country barn and a silo — but the reality is very different.

    Marketing gimmicks include our dairy farms, who paint an obscurantist picture when the reality is very different.

    I don’t believe the statement “There is a direct correlation between the lives of frugal people and people who care about the environment” is accurate.

    The “frugal people” who own businesses are usually the ones who “refuse” to invest financial capital into the minimum of environmental pollution control equipment to even comply with the basic federal or state environmental laws.

    The “frugal person” believes eating locally grown food reduces food miles (farm to plate) and is good for the environment. A recent study showed that it was four times more energy efficient to buy food imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard.

    The frugal person goes to the laundry and only washes their clothes. They take the wet ones home with them to save one dollar on drying costs! How many frugal people would invest in modern technology to understand global markets to understand global costs related to food miles versus the local grown food markets?

    I would “propose” most folks who are classified as frugal people, spend little to no money on the latest technologies.

    It seems to me your concepts of “frugal folks” or “dairy farms” as “environmental friendly” or “care about the environment” are very unrealistic.


  3. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Hello Ken!

    Thank you for your comments. I am visiting in PA right now, so I can only address a few of your thoughts. I grew up on a 60 dairy cow, family farm in Chester County, PA. I do know about the cattle lots of Texas and other areas (and watched, horrified, when Food, Inc. came out!). So as far as my own experience on a farm with nature, it was a pleasant and close one.

    I agree with you that the marketing gimmicks of beautiful, sunshine-dipped farms and smiling cattle (especially the California cattle campaign that says something along the lines of cows are just happier there) is far from reality on today’s farms. Infact, part of the reason why my family got out of the business was because corporate farms took over. A huge drought hit our crops, killed them, and we could no longer afford our family farm (among other issues).

    I happen to be an environmental investigator for the state of Texas, and am very aware of the pollution large feed lots produce (and it should be interested when Greenhouse legislation comes through the EPA because of the high amount of methane gas produced by cows…I guess we’ll see what happens!). Frugal company owners cannot get away without investing in the latest technology; Texas has environmental laws to (sometimes very slowly, I must admit) update the technology. Either way, regulated entities must meet minimum standards of pollution efficiency at their operations.

    Anyway, I need to get going (we are all heading to D.C. this morning!) I hope you and your family have a great holiday break.

  4. Personal Finance Guide
    Personal Finance Guide says:

    Excellent post on home finance bill organizer! I really enjoyed reading it, and my site is about Personal Finance Guide so I’m not just saying is lightly. Keep up the great work!


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