Happy Earth Day! Can you hear me now?

Happy Earth Day

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mykl Roventine

And I didn’t get you anything.

 Admittedly, I’m still a little wiped out from the Earth Hour which we celebrated just a few weeks ago. My daughter, only recently of voting age and going through that period I call the “Mother Jones Stage,” decided we should embrace this sixty-minute prime time slot as a family. So our little tribute to the environment involved a 20-minute preparation period wherein we turned on virtually every light in the house in order to find the 28 random candles which would allow us to live comfortably during our time of sacrifice. Then, we huddled around the computer and squealed with delight at Google’s front page, which had gone “dark” for the event. In this case, “dark” meant they were temporarily employing a black background with white lettering. One quick search for “Earth Hour,” and I had the whole screen lighting up like a runway.

I must say that Earth Hour was a phenomenal success. It was a little eerie watching television in the dark, and navigating our way to the microwave to make popcorn presented its own challenges, but at least no one got hurt. Isn’t it ironic.

The point is that radical change is not an event; we need to first take our baby steps. And before attempting to walk, we need to raise awareness that there is in fact a reason to get up off the floor.

On the personal front, we are trying to do better with our consumption and, yes, our waste, but we are taking baby steps. We still buy disposable water bottles, but we refill them more often. I drive a VW Beetle; it’s not a hybrid, but it’s not a Hummer. Steve is a one-man army which leaves the female contingent in our house feeling like they are being followed by the Verizon Wireless network, only they are moving from room to room turning out lights behind us.

Being more responsible in the way we conduct our business, more respectful of our environment, is something with which Steve and I have personally been struggling. It’s a struggle because we are just two people, and we can not change the world or even our profession by ourselves. We can not quit printing brochures overnight, because the majority of consumers still want to touch and feel a glossy property description as they pass through a neighborhood or through a home, and the sellers want to see their homes promoted in this way. And, with virtually every other agent with a marketing budget relying to some extent on mailings for listing and personal exposure, print marketing for ourselves and our listings will continue to have a place. If Ralph Nader was a licensed agent, he would still have to eat.

More agents are embracing online transaction management and electronic signings, yet still these things are not the rules but the exceptions. We tried the “shame you into it approach” with our alternatives to the paper brochure. Unfortunately, our Web Cards are not being entirely embraced… yet. We will keep trying. In the meantime, we will continue to spend more to at least ensure that our paper consumption is on recycled stock. Are other agents even paying attention?

So, it’s Earth Day. My washing machine is working overtime, and every computer in the house is engaged. We don’t have solar panels, and I use far too many paper plates. But, my awareness has been raised. If we can start creating a little social stigma where our familiar and traditional ways of doing business and living life are concerned, if we can get to the point were it is widely considered uncool to buy a bottle of water or an inkjet cartridge or to print a brochure, then we will start seeing real change.

Can you hear me now?

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