Do small donations to green charities really make a difference? It's a case of yes and no, argues Lawrence Gosling
I obviously look like a man who wants to save the planet. On the way from the tube station to the office to write this column I was stopped FOUR times by chuggers – the charity 'muggers' – who try and get you to sign for regular donations.
Today's chuggers – no where near as annoying as the 'fuggers', the free newspaper muggers who accost you in the afternoons – were representing Friends of the Earth.
I felt some kind of sense of satisfaction that I stopped four times in what must be about 500 metres – then I realised it wasn't because I had a green halo over my head – it was the suit and brief case, they obviously thought I had some money.
Then I realised I was the same kind of person HSBC is after by offering a £5 donation to a green charity if I open or move my back account to them – but only for a limited period.
I certainly use my credit card, and I have a bank account but I'm not sure I'd move it for a £5 donation to anyone.
I'm sure marketers would tell me that these kind of 'green' initiatives do appeal to consumers – but on what level.
I don't seriously think a donation for opening a bank account or half the profit from my credit card each year is going to save the planet. Do the product providers?
I guess they don't and there are two ways at looking at it. They are either being cynical and exploiting the current debate or they have recognised a need for the individual to want to do something and they are offering them an option.
Because the weather's improved, I'll be charitable and take the latter view. But are we really going to save the planet by doing things like this?
There is a debate to be had about whether being 'green' is a lifestyle decision or a product or a hybrid of the both, but that's for a future column.
Can you save the planet by signing up for a direct debit to Friends of the Earth – no you can't. But like turning off you PC when you go home from work or turning off the standby button on your TV at bedtime – it's something. And lots of little 'somethings' are going to make the difference.
PS – I didn't sign up for Friends of the Earth. Nothing personal, I make my charitable donations to the British Heart Foundation, but that's another story
Lawrence Gosling is the group editorial director of Incisive Media
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