Mark Parker, Nike’s president and chief executive, said the company had
“ﬁnally ﬁgured out” it could use its knack for design and innovation to
bring about environmental, labor and social change.
THE ROLE OF NGOs & ACTIVISTS IN BRINGING
ABOUT A POSITIVE FUTURE
_Brief history of US environmental movement
WEEK 1: Creators of products and services have
a responsibility to know what’s in the stuff that
WEEK 2: Often, the greatest environmental
impact is in the hands of the end consumer – use
and disposal of products and services. To
improve environmental impact, give consumers
the tools to be better owners/operators of their
A BRIEF HISTORY OF
USDA Mascot Woodsy Owl, September 1971.
1845: THOREAU WALDEN; OR LIFE IN THE
1886: AUDUBON SOCIETY
1892: SIERRA CLUB – JOHN MUIR
1910: LAKEVIEW GUSHER SAN JOAQUIN, CA
1916: NAT’L PARK SERVICE
1948: DONORA, PA ZINC
1962: SILENT SPRING RACHEL CARSON
These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally
to farms, gardens, forests, and homes — nonselective chemicals
that have the power to kill every insect, the “good” and the “bad,” to
still the song of birds and the leaping of ﬁsh in the streams, to coat
the leaves with a deadly ﬁlm, and to linger on in soil — all this though
the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone
believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the
surface of the earth without making it unﬁt for all life? They should
not be called “insecticides,” but “biocides.”
There is still very limited awareness of the nature of the threat. This
is an era of specialists, each of whom sees his own problem and is
unaware of or intolerant of the larger frame into which it ﬁts. It is also
an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at
whatever cost is seldom challenged. When the public protests,
confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of
pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.
We urgently need an end to these false assurances, to the sugar
coating of unpalatable facts. It is the public that is being asked to
assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public
must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it
can do so only when in full possession of the facts. In the words of
Jean Rostand, “The obligation to endure gives us the right to know.”
Environmental Defense Fund (1967)
Clean Air Act (1970)
DDT Ban (1972)
Deep Ecology (1972) Arne Naess.
Naess saw two different forms of environmentalism:
Long-range deep ecology movement: deep questioning, down to
fundamental root causes. Involves redesigning our whole systems
based on values and methods that truly preserve the ecological and
cultural diversity of natural systems. Without changes in basic values
and practices, we will destroy the diversity and beauty of the world,
and its ability to support diverse human cultures.
Shallow ecology movement: stops before the ultimate level of
fundamental change, often promoting technological ﬁxes (e.g.
recycling, increased automotive efﬁciency, export-driven
monocultural organic agriculture) based on the same consumption-
oriented values and methods of the industrial economy.
1969: CUYAHOGA RIVER ON FIRE
1970: EARTH DAY
1970: NRDC FOUNDED
1971: GREENPEACE FOUNDED CANADA
1978: LOVE CANAL
1979: THREE MILE ISLAND
1981: PETA FOUNDED
1984: BHOPAL UNION CARBIDE
1985: VIENNA CONVENTION: OZONE
1989: EXXON VALDEZ
1992: EARTH SUMMIT RIO
1996: KATHIE LEE SWEATSHOP SCANDAL
1997: NIKE SWEATSHOP SCANDAL
2006: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
“REGULATION WILL SAVE US”
The environmental debate by NGOs had been
framed as an issue that could only be dealt with
through regulation, and public embarrassment of
NGOs USE CAMPAIGNS TO GET RESULTS
Not unlike a brand going through a process of advertising, NGOs pick
speciﬁc issues to focus on, and they develop campaigns to get
volunteers, the media, and constituents to become aware.
The history of the environmental movement, the early years, relied
on regulation as an end result. Business could not be trusted.
Today, the changing of a business practice is often the aim.
What NGO-based environmental campaigns can you recall?
THE DEATH OF ENVIRONMENTALISM
Today's environmental leaders are addressing tomorrow's problems
with yesterday's tools: regulatory and policy ﬁxes.
And because serious global problems like climate change and the
looming water crisis have been narrowly deﬁned as "environmental,"
their equally narrow solutions are easy to marginalize and dismiss by
conservatives, cynics, and other nonbelievers.
Environmental leaders need to "take a collective step back to rethink
everything." Speciﬁcally: how to reframe issues and build coalitions
around big ideas and values, not speciﬁc programs, much as the
conservative movement has done over the past 40 years.
_2004. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus.
The “green” consumer. What did you ﬁnd out?
SHOPPING OUR WAY TO SAFETY
Environmentalism strives to ﬁre citizens up, get them to act
collectively, politically; to organize and force real change.
Environmental awareness does push many people toward activism,
for sure, but we now see that environmental awareness can also lead
to this other response, in which people act not as political subjects,
not as citizens, but as consumers who seem interested only in
individual acts of self-protection, in trying to keep contaminants out
of their bodies.
Traditional quarantine — diseased individual/healthy
Inverted quarantine —diseased conditions/healthy individuals.
The environment is toxic, illness inducing. Danger is
everywhere. How are healthy individuals to protect
themselves? They can do so only by isolating themselves from
their disease-inducing surroundings, by erecting some sort of
barrier or enclosure and withdrawing behind it or inside it.
Inverted-quarantine products do not work nearly well enough
to actually protect those who put their faith in them. But
consumers believe they work. That belief, in turn, tends to
decrease our collective will to truly confront serious
Feeling that one has successfully insulated oneself from an
environmental threat, one feels no pain, no fear, no anxiety (maybe I
should have called it "political anxiety relief"). It follows that one
feels less urgency to do something about that particular threat.
Just as consumption and production were separated for the ﬁrst era
of the industrial revolution, so were consumption and political action.
Is it utopian to think that product manufacturing, marketing and
communications will incorporate the political into the process of
consumption, and reveal the commercial in the realm of the political.
Places within a complex system where a small shift in one thing can
produce a big change in everything.
Systems thinkers note that complex organizations focuse on
leverage points counter-intuitively, pushing them in the wrong
PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM
12 Constants, parameters, numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards)
11 The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their ﬂows
10 The structure of material stocks and ﬂows (transport networks, population age structures)
9 The length of delays, relative to the rate of system change
8 The strength of negative feedback loops
7 The gain around driving positive feedback loops
6 The structure of information ﬂows (who does/does not have access to info)
5 The rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints)
4 The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure
3 The goals of the system
2 The mindset or paradigm out of which the system aries
1 The power to transcend paradigms
VIRTUAL POLAR BEAR STUDY
The polar bear is a powerful iconic symbol for many
individuals, and its fate can be simply and directly
connected to environmentally responsible
behavior. Just as Tamagotchis evoked a powerful
response from their owners, we hoped to use
attachment to a virtual polar bear as a motivator
for energy conservation. We ran a study exploring
the impact of attachment on real-world actions.
The results of our study suggest that an interactive
virtual polar bear may increase environmentally
responsible behaviors, especially when emotional
attachment takes place.
Motivating Environmentally Sustainable Behavior Changes with a
Virtual Polar Bear
Tawanna Dillahunt, Geof Becker, Jennifer Mankoff and Robert Kraut
HCII, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
DigitalICS is a mobile phone
application to fill out surveys, record
audio and take pictures to monitor
smallholder coffee farmers'
compliance with organic, fair trade
certifications and quality
Readings: Shopping Our Way to Safety. Part III:
Consequences of Inverted Quarantine.
Chapters 6, 7, and Conclusion, pp. 169-238.
Assignment: Start doing deep dive research
into your chosen product to review, focused on
product origin, and share your ﬁndings on your
blog. Where is this product made? What were
you not able to discover?