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I think the London company LiveWork is stumbled upon something with their concept of creating service envy:

"Products help us identify ourselves through a complex product and brand language. If we want to make people desire services more than products, then services will also have to communicate these values.

If we want to make people desire services more then products, we have to create services that help people tell each other who they are. Our major challenge is to enable people to express who they are through the use of services instead of through ownership of things. We must create "service envy".

It's leaning toward "More ideas, less stuff", in this case, "more services less stuff".


On the Maslowian point, it's worth investigating how neuroscience shows that we inevitably move toward self-actualisation as we reach middle age. The movement of the boomer bulge into this age-range may help JG's prediction come to light - though, of course, in developing nations the demography is very different (as capitalism will notice).

Package Design magazine has an annual supplement of editorial this month on sustainable packaging, which may be of interest: http://www.packagedesignmag.com/

i keep thinking about how people do business - green or sustainable products and brands are great, but what about how we all do what we do. 5 years ago, as a planner, i had to rely on phone calls and my friends and acquaintances and ability to network around the world to find out what was happening in tokyo, because no one was going to pay for me to get there. we learned great stuff.

now, as a qual researcher and brand consultant, i'm on a plane all the time. my colleagues have to print tabs to read them. there's nowhere to park a bike one might theoretically ride to work. we don't even recycle soda cans.

we're dispersed, disconnected and developing a serious addiction to carbon. how can a business built on talking to people, thinking and generating iMovies and .ppt presentations create such a huge carbon footprint?

anyway - change starts at home, right?

World Changing is a fantastic book; i just bought it as a gift for someone, and wound up reading it myself before i gave it to them - shh.

Futureproof/ed -- http://www.futureproofed.com/ -- provides a good way to explore sustainable products , and how design and technology can reduce future waste.

The comments about a swing to simple living were partly based on what really happened in China several millennia ago. Mary Dougles quoted a study showing that people swung between ostentation and a kind of puritan simplicity throughout most of Chinese history every few generations or so. Our last puritan generation were the postwar cohort ("never buy on the never never"). But of course you cant argue this WILL happen, and what the f*** do any of us know about great sweeps of world social history so it's just speculation.

When I last gave a speech on consumerism to a bunch of environmentalists my argument was that it is a mixed bag. There are bad trends (eg 4 wheel drives) and good ones (mountain bikes). Things like eBay and retro (reviving a second hand market in the US) are arguably more influential in the mainstream than eco warriors.

Do check out the Green awards too. there were lots of surprising examples and clever ideas.


ps on books check 'design for the real world' by victor papanek from the 70s. It's the daddy. This is the guy who - when US motor manafacturers said that car bumpers would take millions and many years to implement - strapped a load of beer cans and a plank to his car and drove at speed into the wall outside a congressional hearing.

Hi Russell,
here are a couple of links which may be of interest:
Hope it helps

We've got three kids under four and following a recent visit to Costco the sheer enormity of our nappy land-fill mountain was plain for all see. We don't get any satisfaction from these purchases, but they serve a purpose. Its expensive and wasteful but in the real world pretty unavoidable for most families.

check out StopGlabalWarming.org

'There is no more important cause than the call to action to save our planet. This is a movement about change, as individuals, as a country, and as a global community. We are all contributors to global warming and we all need to be part of the solution. Join the 605,237 supporters of the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand solutions to global warming now.'

Disel is involved in this
then click on 'Global warming ready'

'Hello, D&AD'
'Hi, I'd like to book two tickets for the talk on the 28/3'
'Sure. May I ask how you heard about it?'
'Err... a blog post by one of the speakers'
'Ah. Would that be russel davies? We've had lots of people call in response to that' (she sounded a little bemused)
Thinking aloud is good. see you at RIBA in March.

Hey Mayo & Russell.

I wasn't bemused at all: more a-mused.

Enjoy the forum - and Russell, I'm sure whatever you say will be well-received.

Hi Claire,
I did wonder if the person who was at the end of the phone would read what I wrote here; hello :)

Maybe it's not a "woo"-point but I think Apple is a quite good example here. Nearly everybody today has an iPod or one of its clones. Mainly you own one because it's a cool gadget to have and you got all your favourite music with you. But here is the point: Thanks to iTunes Store you can buy and store all your music and all your films digitally. No need to buy and produce CDs and DVDs anymore. Sure it's not the main point about it but a quite ecological side effect.
And maybe that's a good point to start: Make others aspects be the main reason and letting the ecological thing just be a good side effect.

I've been scratching my head about the interplay of social, political, consumer, brand and other factors at play here.
I'm finding it really hard to see that the world is going to pop out of the top of maslow any time. However I wonder if stage 1 comes when purchasing decisions made by the few can force the many to accept the results.
As an example, Tesco might sell most of the Jeans in the UK. A few people start to revert to simple living. But the majority still want to consume. They pick up on some of the messages though, and demand for organic jeans pick up. A brave product manager at Tesco's see's an opportunity to force market share, so switches all of their buying to organic jeans. This forces production to switch to organic methods in China, and demand goes up. Pretty soon noone has a choice - everyone in the world ends up buying organic.
Vastly oversimplified I know, but the model of small numbers of people making a decision, which is partly followed by a larger group, and so on with ripples spreading around the world cumulatively dragging everyone up the hierarchy of needs, is interesting.

People end up taking on parts of ideas that are digestible, and the forces of consumerism drive change rather than holding it back.

I guess the trick is in developing ideas that can be broken down with each part being relevant and causing change.

I have a lot of respect for you commiting to this because you feel you should know more.

I think it's a great example to set and a really healthy approach to life. Personally, I hate people who pretend to have all the answers.

There aren't enough hopelessly niave people around.

This speech by Mark Bardon really inspired me to launch myself at the issue head first.
Maybe you'll find some stuff in there that will help you.


Here's a great interview with Amory Lovins from the Rocky Mountian Institute that might be worthwhile. Some interesting ideas on a few simple shifts in corporate thinking to make going green profitable and how to tackle the big barriers (politics, corporate bottom lines, design strategies) to change


I’ve possibly missed all the action, as I’ve been offline for a few days but I’m excited that you are going to put the Vader headgear on for this one Russell. It’s very encouraging to see the plannersphere’s heavyweights, such as here and Brandtarot begin to put some brain power into the responsibilities (and opportunities) we all face.

I’m hoping our American planning cousins will rise to the challenges of sustainable consumption. I’m particularly gob smacked that the oil man in chief aka POTUS has realised the dilemma of running a nation of users let alone growing up in a big dealing family ;) Recognition of a habit is after all the first stage towards the road to recovery. I do recall that Chris Patten said I think on a BBC World Hardtalk program that United States might be the worst offender, but that they would be the leaders in ‘greening’ in no time at all when they start to apply their formidable talent for innovation to the matter. I'm optimistic about the future on this point.

If anyone is any doubt of the forthcoming impact of consumer culture on the world there’s a brilliant Podcast on Tech Nation (I think you tipped me off on these Russell) that talks about the manufacturing capability of China being powered partly by the three gorges dam, which when filled will fractionally tilt the rotation of the earth. The dam, just one of many, is about the size of Switzerland and countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam face the Mekong River drying up with energy initiatives such as these. I highly recommend that the community listen to Dr. Moira Gunn interviewing U.C. Business school Professor Peter Navarro on http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vdtra if you can. If there is one thing I’ve learned in Asian boom marketing, it’s that the both the people and the corporate FMCG manufacturers in the main have an attitude of antipathy towards the environment. It’s our job to set a great example, and I do believe if we can sell MTV and custom kitchens, we can sell sustainable lifestyles.

The ‘cult of car’ needs some opening up to ideas of pooling and sharing through social networks. You know, proper engagement where you have to put up with someone’s questionable fragrance or dodgy politics on the way to work or weekend trips. Students and young people are an obvious social group for collective trip sharing so let’s hope that Facebook or myspace get’s their act together.

As an idea, is it just me that thinks that a car brand, particularly a luxury one should own the positioning of “walk/cycle more” and keep the mileage lower and thus the resale higher, improve personal fitness, etc etc. if they were really passionate about retaining their customers for life and had interesting buy-back schemes? Surely the car is the second most resalable purchase made by people after homes and somebody should own the positioning ‘Drive less’. The less you use it, the more you are likely to be our sort of customer. We’ll love you for it and reward you for it too.

I agree and feel optimistic with John Grant about consumption mania dwindling. It certainly can if advertising lends its weight to the image of frugality being a good thing. The German wirtschaftwunder or ‘economic miracle’ of the 70’s is still the de facto Euro powerhouse economy which is arguably a frugal economy already, and got that way by being sensible about green issues. Manufacturers have always worked on a model of ever-increasing consumption as the most profitable goal or by using a bit of smoke and mirrors with packaging, sizes and concentration of product. They all know exactly where each cent is made, down to the plastic caps. However if society’s sentiment begins to drift towards the idea of using only ‘enough FMCG product, as-is necessary’, the business model can change shape and remain profitable. If we think about where the carbon footprint can be trimmed in the production to distribution cycle there’s loads of variables for manufacturers and agencies to play with, such as concentrates and new perceptions of volumetrics depending on the efficacy of the product itself.

FMCG people are very naughty at making the most profit out of the most appealing, not necessarily the smartest. If that energy is put into making a profit, out of the most effective & environmentally sensitive, it’s still a viable business model, though it requires changing peoples attitudes – something advertising is fucking brilliant at. Is it just me that sees this as remarkably fertile marketing territory? Actually as an example you could marry Beekers great work for encouraging tin packaging for drinks such as milk.


I’m guessing this was for eco reasons. If people like Innocent Drinks who I believe currently use plastic packaging can convert to a fresh smoothie in a tin would that be good too? If milk can do it, why not fruit?

One great example of how the poisonous textile dye industry in Switzerland had to bury it’s trimmings outside of the country and was tackled with the Sinatra test; the ‘if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere’ test, which establishes credibility when beating the odds. Bill McDunner (an architect) was trying to tell people that what’s good for the environment is good for business, achieved great success in this secretive business. If you have time listen on your ipod or notebook speakers, to how he achieved it for the fabric dying industry which uses hazardous dies for stuff like car seats and highlights that if the trimmings are carcinogenic than so is the material we’re sitting on. It’s a fascinating example of solving environmental problems profitably, and is a Podcast on Tech Nation again by Moira Stuart with Stanford Business professor Chip Heath. There’s lots of great urban legend building quotes and marketing inspiration like making how to make ideas concrete and thus transferable before the green topic, but if you want to get to the eco-example it’s about 30 minutes in.


Packaging is an obvious culprit for excess rampant consumerism. My suggestion is to reward people who shop at supermarkets and use reusable containers with bonus points. I see breakfast cereals, coffee and so forth in large branded dispensers while the Islington Montessori crowd (early adopters), tip up with their funky Kellogg and Nescafe green Tupperware tubs. Surely Tupperware could get in on the act. These carbon saving (for the rest of time), and packaging saving transactions are easily added and swiped up on electronic cards. Is that an embedded sales imperative? I can even see the cliché of less (packaging) results in more (produce) rewarded to the customer somewhere in the brief. I’d change countries to give that one to a hot creative team. And the containers don’t necessarily need to be plastic; there may well be creative alternatives.

Lot’s of ideas, not so much stuff is terrific; all your examples are exciting and easily transferable into social network models when celebrities and the like endorse it as a life style with proper backing and reward incentives. It’s still very profitable if it’s thought through. The T Shirt idea is almost begging to be solved. I bought a T Shirt in Delhi which was wrapped in the most elaborate origami of pasted strips of newspapers, brass eyes and a little hemp rope that made it feel really special. Recycling biodegradable products to the point where the person I gave it to felt it was cool mostly because of the packaging innovation was a good feeling.

The thing about nappies or diapers is one I’ve experienced. There is no less rewarding feeling than buying 4 cubic feet of landfill and an inch on one’s carbon footprint. As an idea, in Asia it’s very common to see agrarian economy tots (and enlightened metropolitan toddlers) running around naked. OK it’s probably only appropriate for summer in temperate climes and there are cultural phobias that have emerged over recent decades, but even if it’s saving one or two nappies/diapers a day it’s a good thing. I think it encourages potty training a little earlier too. These are just ideas and some ethnography research with mothers might be helpful.

The comment about the ipod is fertile territory. Why isn’t Apple telling us each time a song is downloaded about how much less the carbon footprint is in the music industry distribution chain in much the same way as this article about the burger’s carbon footprint is?


Recycling and responsible consumption actually feels good and is easily possible to reward, despite in this instance the record labels taking a disproportionate cut of downloadable royalties.

It’s my experience that young people, all over the world are naturally inclined to take up idealistic issues. They are more vocal (although possibly less behavioural) about green issues, as their spending power is less. Isn’t idealism an extension of ideas?

I think my biggest flippant example for saving the planet is to start a campaign for the Asian economies particularly India & China, to adopt the Siesta and napping. It’s often the case that wasteful productivity goes down, and rampant consumerism, and national happiness goes up. I think Europe should lead by example and surely its Spain’s duty to champion this issue ;) Russell’s post on skiving work over the Christmas shopping frenzy struck a chord with me on this point. I’m working on my technique but I’ve found the best way is to take a year off now and again to read on tropical beaches.

It’s my view that third millennium account planning has no place in forecasting or shaping markets if both the finite resources are running out, and our customers have a poorer quality of life. Pull yourselves together ladies and gentlemen there’s a tonne of work to do.

Oh and that little exchange between Mayo and Claire was just delightful, quintessential British Blogging :) ... Lovely.

Another place you might want to look at - www.longnow.org.

The assertion that as climate change gets worse, people will do more is probably true up to a point, but I worry a bit about it. If you think about it, if you believe a problem is unsurmountable, that things are getting irrevocably worse, what are you likely to do? Probably take what you can while you can. Whereas if you cautiously think things are improving, maybe you invest more in the future...

My point is this - as you work towards your contribution, it might be worth thinking about the role of optimism; of making people feel like there's something they can do, rather than just telling them how much they've f*cked everything already, which seems to be what most brands have done so far.

Ray and Charles Eames were worrying about this issue way back in the 60s. Their solution goes beyond Live/Works "service envy" to one of creating a kind of "can do envy".

"Charles talked about this idea at length in the Norton Lectures, describing a humanity that had sort of painted itself into a corner "where information and imagery- and I think it's largely through television - [the world] has gotten so completely homogenized so that, in many respects, everybody has been getting the same. [And] it has been one of the things that there is and exists today a universal expectancy in which every person feels he has the right to everything everybody else has."

Charles felt this development created a number of problems. For starters, there were so many consumer goods out there that one no longer neeeded to go through the trouble of selectivity. In fact, on the level of effort, even the most expensive product was cheapened because no real effort (beyond paying for it) was asked of the would-be owner. But Charles and Ray also saw a practical (one might even call it environmental problem): if our standard of success is onwing, say, a Mercedes, then we have doomed most of the world's population to failure because it will be phyically impossible to make enough of those cars with the Earth's limited resources.

The solution the Eameses proposed, the New Covetables, would have certain characteristics: 
"It can't be too easy to get them. 
You must be able to have them. 
You must not be able to have them without first wanting them. 
The price must really have a price. 
It must be a real price, but...the coin in which that price is listed must be available to everyone. 
Now, the question is, what kind of things would qualify?"

In other words, the "coin of the realm" is not money, but effort, hard work. There is another quality: "The point is that these things will not diminsh as they're divided. They're endless." 

So what sort of things qualify? Charles listed some examples: learning to read a map; learning to speak Chinese; learning to ride a unicycle; graphing mathematical functions; getting to know a city; or even a story like "King Lear, the model of the inevitable situation which you can apply.""

Thanks to raefried beans for the digital quote

The paper quote is on pages 125 to 126 in Eames Demetrios's "An Eames Primer"


Great comments Jon & Richard. Speaking of optimism I just had a newsflash about the State of the Union Speech. I do think Chris Patten is a clever chap.


Wow isn't this a great quote on longnow.org by Daniel Hillis

"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium."

erm.... in case anyone is still dropping by. I Just noticed that Noah has asked for something special for his birthday. It's great.


In American it's quite often the case that people shop when they don't need anything. Something like a retail fix. I quite like this idea of swapping cool junk for cool junk. It's an idea and it involves no production.


Thanks to creative review

More ideas less stuff.


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