Commitment-phobes, get ready to take notes: according to the Eco-Love Survey recently conducted by Timberland, you've got a whole new category of breakup excuses at your disposal. Sure, he's tall, dark and handsome ... but he doesn't recycle? She's a high-powered blonde ... who litters? Back into the dating pool you go.
In actuality, these aren't mere excuses ... they're signs that environmental values are slowly trickling into yet another corner of our consciousness - the dating and mating corner. According to the Eco-Love Survey, green does matter when it comes to selecting a friend or partner:
* 56 percent of those surveyed wouldn't date a litter bug
* 24 percent would think twice about dating a non-recycler
* 20 percent wouldn't date the driver of a gas guzzler
The good news is, according to the 1,000 nationally representative Americans we surveyed, environmental responsibility is gaining traction as a positive character trait and something we consider when it comes to making decisions about the kind of people we want to spend time with in our personal lives. The not-so-good news is, it still doesn't matter a whole lot. When asked whether they believe environmentally-friendly women are more stylish, more sophisticated or more laid back than those who are not eco-friendly, the answer was a resounding "no" -- which leaves us with the mental image of an uptight, socially-inept and poorly dressed green girl ... the stereotypical environmentalist you'd want as your lab partner but wouldn't dream of taking to the prom.
Clearly, we've got a long way to go to bridge the gap between scorning the environmental despoilers and warmly embracing the eco-friendly.
Is it that we need a better poster child for eco-chic? When asked which environmentally-friendly celebrity would most inspire them to go green, Cameron Diaz only garnered 27 percent of votes, with Kate Hudson (26 percent) and Gwyneth Paltrow (21 percent) close behind. Is there some sort of gender bias, some kind of "guys don't make passes at girls who recycle glasses" thing going on? Sadly, no - we can't even blame men for being the insensitive ones (this time) - nearly twice as many men as women surveyed believe eco-friendly girls make better life partners (24 percent vs. 14 percent).
It could just be that we're not ready to pair the notion of environmental responsibility with the "L" word -- because when the same survey participants were asked about the importance of eco-responsibility with no romantic strings attached, the results were a lot more encouraging. When asked which of the following environmental actions Americans need to take in the next year, they said:
* Use energy efficient light bulbs (72 percent)
* Use non-toxic or non-chemical cleaners around the house (59 percent)
* Carpool, walk or ride bikes to work (57 percent)
As a company that's working hard to reduce our environmental footprint while engaging consumers who want to do the same, some of the survey results were disheartening ... but not enough to deter us from making beautiful (stylish, even!) durable, eco-conscious footwear for consumers who think that sort of thing matters (30 percent). As for the marriage between environmental values and romantic love -- we'll continue to believe that that relationship, like any other, simply needs time to grow. And when it does, we'll be the first ones to throw recycled-compostable paper confetti at the happy couple.
Margaret Morey-Reuner is the Senior Manager of Values Marketing for Timberland.