We got a late start on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, so this is a few days old. But hey, it’s the doldrums, right?

Rob Walker, who writes the ‘Consumed’ column, has a piece titled ‘Silent Green,’ which makes the case that manufacturers and retailers of ecofriendly products are leery of pushing too hard “on the whole save-the-planet thing” for fear of alienating mainstream consumers.


He cites a product called gDiapers, flushable nappies invented in Australia (and sold there as Baby Weenees Eco Nappy Products) now making their way into American markets via Whole Foods. Jason and Kimberly Graham-Nye, an American couple who own the U.S. rights to the product, decided to give it a vague name rather than emphasize the ecofactor, an approach they thought would restrict the market to what they call ‘dark green’ consumers. (The company’s website, by contrast, doesn’t skimp on the ‘happy planet’ talk.)

In the piece, Walker reports also on a recent article in the journal Environment titled ‘Avoiding Green Marketing Myopia,’ which makes the point that a number of ecofriendly products have failed as a result of save-the-planet marketing strategies. That article cites a light bulb that bombed when it was marketed as Earth-friendly but succeeded when reintroduced merely as a money-saver.

For the record, and because a number of our readers have asked: the ‘green’ in redbankgreen is first and foremost an allusion to the idea of a village green or town square. But we’re happy to be associated with ecofriendliness, and hope to be at least a small voice in discussions about how we grow our food, make our products and dispose of waste. But ‘redbankdarkgreen?’ Nah…

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