Green Musings From Abroad

A central and very important part of our jobs is to understand our green clients and tell their stories in new and compelling ways.  There’s a lot of clutter to break through – various new outlets and channels, the crowded pipeline of green angles and news, and the ever-constant challenge of enticing a report to listen to you. We often remain so focused on our own problems, personally, as PR people and as Americans, that we rarely step back and consider how our green clients fit into the global picture. I recently spent two weeks on vacation in Europe and was reminded that now, as global economies are so quickly changing and affected by one another... we need to be conscious of what the rest of the world is doing.

My observations are not profound and I’m certain most foreigners take similar notes on how life works differently than in his or her respective home. But I think about my clients in “real life” and couldn’t help but see so many contrasts between the green world I know in America.  Little things, like wind farms visible out the windows of every flight, water-efficient toilets, paying for plastic bags at every grocery store and in general, the more compact size of things. You’re not able to take your preferred quantity of napkins at restaurants or cafes – you are given one or maybe two napkins, and it better be enough.

Then there are the cars. There are good-looking cars, many Americans brands, all over Europe that appear to get 75 miles to the gallon.  That may be exaggerated and I’m no expert on European emission standards and other regulations, but why aren’t we doing this at home? And the packaging.  I wouldn’t take the time to notice if I didn’t have clients tied to flexible and energy-efficient packaging, but as we talk about carbon and water footprints here, it was eye-opening to see how much is being done there.  Less waste, less pollution and smarter ways of packaging foods, beverages and consumer products were everywhere. I could go on.

Don’t get me wrong; I love our country, our people, our freedoms and all our silly ways. But I got used to the non-domestic efficiencies, shortages… differences, and began to appreciate them.  I’m not even thinking about getting on a soapbox, I just want to figure out a way to apply my observations in my work.

I took away two main things: First, America is behind on many green initiatives and as I talk about my clients, I want to know where the rest of the world is. Ahead or behind my client? That’s now a rule. Second, I think we all need to stop and think with a global perspective more often.  It’s easy to get tied up in the frenzied media pace or churning out pitches, but I hope to pause more often and think about how my story lines up with the rest of the world. Maybe take a vacation from the usual PR.

- Contributed by Jen Fauteux.  Follow her @jfauteux