Friday, April 29, 2011

The Green Conundrum


Last Friday we celebrated the 41st Earth Day, this year’s theme being A Billion Acts of Green. My query this morning: Why am I beginning to read articles that America’s love affair with “green” products has declined?

Read on:

An online Harris Poll (2,352 U.S. adults ages 18 and over) revealed that in 2010, 36% of the respondents were concerned about the planet they were leaving behind for future generations compared to 43% in 2009. When asked whether environmental issues were important when voting for political candidates, 28% said it was important down from 36% in 2009. Detailed below are other interesting results as it relates to the decline of “green” behavior in 2010 compared to 2009:

  • Purchasing locally grown produce (33% vs. 39%).
  • Purchasing organic products (15% vs. 17%) Note: On the other hand, while researching this post, I learned the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) reported sales of organic products reached $28.6 billion, an increase of approximately 8 percent versus 2009. Organic fruits and vegetables which represent 39.7 percent ($10.6 billion) of total organic sales exhibited the greatest growth – plus 11.8 percent. Makes me question whether those people who already buy organics are now buying more.
  • Making an effort to use less water (57% vs. 60%).
  • Purchased a hybrid or more fuel efficient car (8% vs. 13%).
  • Purchased Energy Star appliances (30% vs. 36%).

Has the recession impacted “green” consumerism as Americans look to cut spending? One category that has exhibited a major decline has been household products like cleaning supplies, especially those marketed by the major companies like Clorox and S.C. Johnson compared to niche players Method and Seventh Generation. Mintel a research firm reported that the number of household cleaners with “green” claims declined from 144 in 2009 to 105 in 2010; “green” dishwashing liquids from 85 to 58. One particular environment-friendly line of cleaning products that has exemplified the decline in “green” products was Clorox’s Sierra Club endorsed Green Works – sales peaked in 2008 at $100 million and has now leveled off to $60 million.

Is it too premature to jump to any conclusions? The Green Conundrum! The same Harris Poll indicated that 20% of those surveyed consider themselves conservationist (compared to 17% in 2009), 18% “green” (compared to 13% in 2009) and 16% environmentalist (compared to 13% in 2009). So have Americans become unpredictable when it comes to buying “green” products?

Stay tuned as my next post addresses how Fido is going green.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Section 154


I just read that on this day back in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that alcohol content could be listed on beer labels, overturning a 1935 law which had prohibited it. Makes me want to fly out to Cleveland and check out Section 154 in Progressive Field.

Read On:
Earlier in the month I addressed wine consumption in the U.S. I thought it would be a good time to check out beer consumption, since I have been reading numerous articles about the rise of brew pubs and microbreweries. No surprise, beer is America’s most popular alcoholic beverage, accounting for approximately 85% of all alcoholic beverages sold in the United States – generating annual retail sales close to $92 billion. Beer consumption statistics are all over the map, but it is estimated that on the average we consume an estimated 85 liters per year which is equivalent to a little over 22 gallons or 180 pints. Beer drinking is male dominated; men account for 80% of the volume consumed.

So why do I want to go to Progressive Field in Cleveland? Delaware North, a leading contract management company, just opened this year a new Spirits of Ohio stand after extensive testing. The stand is located in Section 154 of the lower deck behind home plate. All of the craft beers are made in the Buckeye State; they range in price from $6.75 to $29.75. That’s correct; a 22- ounce
Hoppin’ Frog Bodacious Black and Tan is $29.75. Too expensive for your tastes? You could always settle for a 22-ounce bottle of Hippie IPA for $19.75 or Brew Kettle’s 4 C’s Pale Ale for $15.75.

I will pass on a beer. I just want to check out the alcohol content on the labels, then head over to Your Dad’s Beer located in Section 119 for a 12-ounce can of Blatz for $4.50. Still an expensive beer when I factor in airfare, hotel, rental car, parking, my ticket, one hot dog and one baseball cap. Anyone care to join me?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deluxe Family Vacations

Back in February I posted about a family trip to Tuscany – Bonding Italian Style. Based on what I have been reading, it appears that pricey family vacations continue to be on the upswing.

Read On:

One company that specializes in planning luxury family travel is My Little Swans founded by Katrina Garnett. The company links families to regional tour operators to over thirty destinations, across six continents that were personally taken by Katrina, her husband and three children. You name it; the Amalfi Coast, an African safari, exploring Inca archeological treasures in Peru, a week’s stay at the Wolgan Valley Resort in the Blue Mountains of Australia, etc. Oh yes, you pay for it. Some of My Little Swans trips can cost a family of five, tens of thousands of dollars for a customized itinerary. Expensive? Not for families that can afford deluxe family vacations. They believe they are teaching their children an invaluable life lesson; a worldly experience. Smithsonian, a competitor, offers a family trip called “Voyage to the Lands of Gods and Heroes.” The cost for a family of five for a ten night, small ship Mediterranean cruise with stops at famous Greek and Italian destinations is approximately $30,000 excluding airfare. Abercombie & Kent is another upscale travel company that is capitalizing on this trend. Recently they indicated that twenty percent of their bookings are now for families compared to five years ago when it was five percent. Tour operators recognize that thanks to the hectic lifestyles associated with people climbing the economic ladders, travel is a way to spend time together, plus share a memorable experience outside the day to day norm. In the words of Abercombie & Kent’s president Scott Wiseman: “It’s not the price of the trip that creates value, but the experience. It’s not about going to China, it’s about hugging a panda bear.” I guess I will have to stick to the Discovery Channel. What about you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I was disappointed to learn last year that the United States ranked 20th out of 148 nations in happiness based on research conducted by sociologist Ruut Veenhoven, Director of the World Database of Happiness. Now that we are the world’s largest wine consuming nation, I suggest Ruut reexamine his research.

Read On:
According to Gomberg, Fredrikson, America’s oldest wine industry consultants, the United States has passed France in wine consumption for the first time. We are officially number one in the world in wine shipments. Hopefully our happiness ranking should improve as a result.

Wine shipments increased 2 percent to 329.7 million cases into U.S. trade channels last year compared to 320.6 million cases for France. This growth can be attributed to the size of our population (311 million which is five times the size of France’s), as well as the evolution of the wine and cheese culture among young Americans. However, the French still surpass Americans in per capita consumption of wine – 12 gallons/year vs. 2-1/2 gallons/year respectively.

FYI: The World Database of Happiness ranks Costa Rica as the number one happiest nation. Does anyone know what they are drinking?