How do you make environmentalism "cool"? Support from the sexy star of HBO's "Entourage" can't hurt.
Actor Adrian Grenier and producer Peter Glatzer joined host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin on HuffPost Live this week to discuss green consumerism and how to make environmental concerns appeal to a broad audience.
"We were sick and tired of the happy green talk or the doom and gloom out there. It turned us off,” Grenier explained.
Co-founders of eco-minded SHFT.com, Grenier and Glatzer joined other guests to discuss the need for a change in mentality and behavior around sustainable lifestyles.
As Grenier described, “We decided to appeal to a larger audience and embrace small shifts, not only in people's consumer habits but also put a spotlight on businesses making those changes, really applaud them, and most importantly seek out the new businesses doing really cool things to help with the environment."
Through sustainable design and culture, the duo is promoting a change in attitude toward eco-living, recently launching with Ford Motor Company The Big SHFT, a video series highlighting environmentally-friendly businesses.
Some HuffPost Live guests expressed concerns over a limited audience for sustainable products, but Glatzer argued that the goal is to become mainstream -- to do this, they "eschew the idea of ‘eco’; you don't see the word ‘green’ on our site very often."
For Grenier, "it's not just about environmentalism, it's about this holistic approach to living, which also includes profit."
While turning garbage into products can help clean the business landscape, some critics of green consumerism argue that by labeling a product “green,” it’s letting consumers off the hook: "It's guilt-free now -- buy, buy, buy!" as HowStuffWorks' Julia Layton describes it.
In the reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchy, “reduce” is arguably the best way to help the environment. But until reductions in waste are made and a broader shift from our material-driven society occurs, green entrepreneurs turning trash into treasure may be the best start.
Grenier advocated not just for supporting small businesses, but added, "We have to really embrace and support bigger companies that do make an effort, because a lot of times when these big companies make a small change, it's going to have a big impact... We’re I guess optimists. If the alternative is, ‘we're all going to die,’ what kind of a way to live is that?"
Glatzer acknowledged it’s not a rosy picture. “We need the public sector to come in and help. It's going to take a combination of public and private… we need a comprehensive energy bill, we need a lot more.” But for now, "every little shift in your consciousness, your thinking, your consumer habits really does make a difference, and businesses listen to their consumers' demands.”
This means folding environmentalism into all aspects of everyday life. Grenier described dinner parties where they “essentially go off the grid” – no internet, boom box, lights -- "and suddenly you're in this sexy place where it's a little dark, you have to get a little closer, more intimate." Small shifts even within personal social gatherings can be both enjoyable and reduce carbon footprints.
Ultimately, for Grenier, the question comes down to: "Do you have faith in humanity or not? I do. I think there's a lot of innovation, a lot of smart ideas coming out.”