Companies’ obsession with carbon footprint is obscuring the real savings

Friday, June 4th, 2010 | Global Cool

Sky TV leads the way in helping consumers save carbon

The satellite broadcaster Sky introduced auto-power-down for set-top boxes in consumers’ homes in 2007. That single action saves twice as much carbon as Sky itself emits in its own operations.

It is often the case that companies can save much more carbon through influencing their customers than they control directly. But examples of companies actively using that influence are very rare.

Why is that?

Many companies seem not to have realised that this influence exists. Part of the reason may be that there is no commonly used term for this kind of activity. ‘Footprint’ is a known term for an organisation’s and it therefore dominates companies’ thinking in this area.

The Guardian recently used the word ‘brainprint’ for this – the broader influence that companies have on saving carbon. Global Cool Foundation has noticed that brainprint usually dwarfs footprint. Jo Kenrick, Chair of the Marketing Society, is on to it too. In a recent talk, she called for much more innovation around products and services that enable consumers to save carbon.

We have also noticed that companies often think they don’t have the right to talk to their customers about saving carbon. Lots of companies think that someone should be talking to consumers about saving carbon, just not them.

But you do not have to talk to consumers about carbon itself. For example, the Global Cool campaign works with many brands (including Eurostar, Mr & Mrs Smith, ASOS, Live Nation, and London Fashion Week) to inspire and enable consumers to make green choices – just by making them attractive and easy.

You can see examples of some of Global Cool’s activities here

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We run Global Cool, the only online magazine in the UK truly inspiring the mainstream to live greener

We create content about music, fashion, celebrity and lifestyle trends. We use this content to inspire people normally turned off by climate change to lead greener lives. We reached more than 200,000 people in 2011 and we don't preach to the converted. In fact, 93% of our audience say we are the only green organisation they engage with.

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