Harry Potter mania is once again sweeping the globe in preparation for the final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, being released July 15. Legions of fans have dusted off their Potter books and breathlessly await the fate of He Who Must Not be Named, even though they know the books by heart. They can’t get enough, and after 10 years of the movies there’s a sense of wistfulness at the passing of an age. All of which makes me a little envious, I guess, wondering how sustainable businesses can harness some of this Potter Power to save the muggle world.
Like Harry Potter, sustainable businesses face an epic struggle to save the planet, to change the world for the better. While these businesses enjoy a great deal of support from those committed to the environmental cause, we need an upswell of Potter-like energy if we are to bring awareness of these issues to more people.
While we are all ordinary people, we are called–like Harry–to take on exceptional challenges, although we might not have noticed. Our challenge threatens our planet in profound ways that we scarcely understand. The oceans are under siege, our climate is changing rapidly, and rising global populations strain resources like food, water, and energy.
The environmental challenges we face are seldom as stark and obvious as Voldemort. Risks like climate change are generally diffuse, spread around the globe, and slowly growing over time, which makes them more difficult for us to respond to. If they waved a wand in our face and lacked a nose, we might respond more strongly. Failing this though, environmental challenges and businesses providing solutions need a human face to engage the public.
The popularity of Harry Potter shows how hungry people are to make a difference in the world, to have a sense of purpose in their lives. And there are opportunities everywhere to do this. Every day in a variety of non-magical ways, we can do our part to thwart the creeping evil of environmental degradation that threatens our planet, helping people near and far in the process.
One example of the power of ordinary people to make a difference can be found at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, which teaches regular workshops on Backyard Skills, helping more of us to see how we have the power to take on our dark challenges with our own hands, in our own lives with simple steps like planting a shade tree, building a rain barrel, or making a solar oven. Their Backyard Skills book brings the message to even more people, allowing them to create their own eco-magic, even if they don’t own wands.
The key for green marketing is to tell stories about people, stories that we can relate to.
People love Harry Potter because they can relate to him, because he is so human. We need marketing for sustainable businesses that connects to stories like this, that shows people how green business efforts are not just about wolves and polar bears, but about helping people. If businesses ensure that their marketing talks about making a difference in the lives of people, they can invite us to be part of something greater than ourselves, to join the cause in our everyday lives.
Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Starting Green”, helping businesses to start green and grow greener with communications and consulting at www.startingupgreen.com.