Can Consumption Do Something Good for the Planet?


Image via: Be True to Blue
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It's easy to harp on the big guys for creating massive big-box stores that sell massive piles of cheap products that ultimately end up in landfills. But let's be honest, from time to time we're still going to need to buy stuff and like it or not, sometimes those items come from chain or department stores. Action sports items in particular wear out just by virtue of the activity they are used for. When I spoke with Vipe Desai, founder of project BLUE this time last year, project BLUE was just getting started and there were big hopes that encouraging people to choose better products could ultimately raise money for conservation. Turns out, it worked!Just last week, project BLUE announced that since they started in 2007 until December 2008, they raised and donated $141,150.90 USD to the Surfrider Foundation. The project brings together competing surf and action sport companies to each make one product (oftentimes a recycled material or other eco-friendly product) and donate $2 of the sale to project BLUE. This is the first time in any industry that competing brands have come together and sold their products together for a common cause.

Sure, but this program just encourages people to consume more, right? Not exactly. Desai is very explicit when explaining the program that project BLUE doesn't want people to just go out and buy stuff just to have more stuff. But, sometimes you're going to need a new pair of flip flops or a new backpack, and if so, why not purchase a project BLUE item from a label or company you were already planning on purchasing from anyways. It's more of a replacement idea, rather than a consumption idea. Or rather, this is conscious consumption, where consumers are aware and carefully consider their purchases. In this multi-billion dollar industry, that might seem like a small drop in the bucket, but if those companies then add other green products, either to project BLUE or even just to their general line, then that's saying something.

According to Graham Stapelberg, Billabong's Vice President of Marketing, and member company in project BLUE:

"Becoming a founding partner in project BLUE was a natural addition to Billabong's existing passion to create eco-friendly alternatives for our team and surfers around the world. By being a part of project BLUE, we're building greater awareness for our Recycler series of boardshorts and helping Surfrider at the same time."

Steve Ward, O'Neill's Vice President of Marketing agrees:

"O'Neill was founded with the goal of keeping surfers in the ocean longer. When Jack O'Neill first started the company, cold water was one of the biggest challenges facing surfers. Today, preserving the health of our oceans must be our priority! By being a part of project BLUE, we can educate consumers about preserving our playground and support the incredible efforts being put forth by the Surfrider Foundation."

Billabong, Dakine, Electric, Famous Wax, Nixon, O'Neill and Reef are all supporters and member companies of project BLUE. The Surfrider Foundation supports ocean protection through volunteer beach cleanups, petitioning the local government and other fundraising events. You can find out more about the program and replace your old projects online at BeTruetoBlue.com
More on Consumption
15 Easy Ways to Really Cut Your Consumption
Daniel Akst on Conspicuous Green Consumption
Learn More About US Waste and Consumption
Conspicuous Consumption, Conscious Consumption and the Fulfillment Curve

Tags: Accessories | Activism | Beaches | Clothing | Footwear | Oceans

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