Why does there continue to be so much resistance to go green when more than ample evidence shows that businesses are benefiting and consumers want it?

Two studies that have come across my desktop in the past week show that, contrary to the belief of many chambers of commerce across this country, if the tide isn’t at least turning, we may reach a tipping point in the near future.

The first, a very recent study just released by major US marketing and branding agency BBMG shows that consumers want more than just promises from companies when it comes to green marketing. This should come as a shock to no one. Their Conscious Consumer Report, released November 6, reveals that:

“In a world of green clutter, conscious consumers expect companies to do more than make eco-friendly claims. They demand transparency and accountability across every level of business practice. Avoiding the green trap means authentically backing your words with socially responsible actions.”
–Raphael Bemporad, founding partner of BBMG.

It’s refreshing to see what many of us who consider ourselves “conscious consumers” believe reflected in this study by a reputable firm. The bottom line, the study points out to “business leaders and marketers looking to ride the green wave:

“either back your eco-friendly words with socially responsible actions or risk backlash.”

Refreshing because so many of us feel helpless about the impact we make with our purchasing decisions. Not sure where that report is, but it’s a response I hear from so many “conscious consumers”—from friends and family to some I work with professionally, and something I know I feel when the choices to make meaningful impacts through purchasing decisions seem so slim.

The second study, released this week by the Palo Alto-based nonprofit research group Next 10, suggests just the opposite of what so many California businesses cried when the California Assembly debated global warming legislation last fall. According to a November 16 Greenwire story,

“…business groups charged that capping California’s greenhouse gases would wreck the economy,” and “Companies would flee to states and countries with less burdensome climate regulations and California’s gross domestic product would plummet, the California Chamber of Commerce warned.”

But Next 10 found that 14 months after Governor Schwarzenegger signed A.B. 32 into law, the results have been much more in line with what environmentalists would hope for and what business leaders should promote as the real reasons for greenhouse gas-reducing legislation.

California A.B. 32 is known as the Global Warming Solutions Act and it “requires California’s electric utilities and other major industries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases 25 percent by 2020,” according to the Greenwire story.

Here is some of what the Next 10 report found:

• According to federal data, California already has the second-lowest CO2 emissions per capita while generating the tenth-highest GDP per capita in the nation.

• Since 1990, “green” business establishments in the state have grown by 84 percent and employment has doubled.

• 36 percent of U.S. venture capital investments last year went to California-based companies, and the state’s VC investment share is up from 6 percent in 2001.

From my perspective, the resistance comes from fear. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. So much of our country’s id today is based on fear. It’s been bred into us by our own government and media. Fear motivates and fear sells. Sad but true.

On the flip side, we are a strong country. I’m not talking about our military might or the strength that comes from our right to bear arms. I’m talking about the strength that comes from our country’s founding on the belief of manifest destiny. (Now, I’m not saying that manifest destiny was necessarily right, but it has engendered Americans with a will to not only survive, but to thrive.) So let’s take that bull by the horns, people, and figure out how to do this thing right. Demand that businesses do the right thing for the planet, its people and themselves. Because it’s not just “for the environment,” it’s for humanity.