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Why the Green Economy Needs a Marlboro Man

Carrying a reusable shopping bag isn't manly. Drinking out of a reusable water bottle is for chicks. Hybrid cars? Not if you have balls.

Carrying a reusable shopping bag isn't manly. Drinking out of an aluminum water bottle is for chicks. Hybrid cars? Not if you have balls. A broad study unpacking "the green gap" (the difference between our intentions and our actions around sustainable living) found that men tend to see green as girly, effete, and elitist.


This won't come as a surprise to marketers who have long crafted their messaging for the family budget controlling moms, but those messages may be holding back broader adoption of a more sustainable way of life. The authors of "Making Green More Macho" in the current issue of Solutions Journal trot out the wildly successful Don't Mess With Texas campaign as a case study in going more Hulk than Kermit the Frog in a green pitch.

You may know the Don't Mess With Texas tagline as a bumper sticker or a T-shirt, but its origins are a masterful anti-litter campaign for the lone star state. Television ads featured country music singers and pro football players talking up the values of keeping their beloved state clean. It connected sustainable values with masculinity. Guess what? Littering on Texas highways decreased by 70 percent in five years.

Now to that Marlboro Man reference. Back in the early fifties, before the dawn of the rugged cowboy as the quintessential macho smoker, Marlboros were considered mild, feminine cigarettes. That all quickly took a 180 degree turn.

The folks at Solutions Journal note that the characters of Turbine Cowboys are making some headway into the wilderness of macho sustainability. But those guys aren't pitching us anything. What if Daniel Craig signed on to shill for green baby products for Seventh Generation or Jeremy Renner became the face of a nationwide effort to ban the plastic bag? Maybe it would become a little easier for dudes to be green and proud.

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