Words can make or break our messaging, so getting it right when trying to turn the tide towards a greener and more prosperous future is one of the most important skills we can have.
My vocabulary is far from Shakespearian and I use my fair share of colourful language at times [I use other people’s shares too]… but I’d like to critique some of our more popular ‘green’ words used in the property industry:
- Eco – maybe this was once short for ‘ecological’? Often pronounced ‘echo’ [at which point I stop and listen for one]. Now used as a prefix to almost anything that is being flogged under the guise of being ‘environmentally friendly’. Even our Trade Practices Act isn’t doing very well in controlling this one. My vote? Drop it.
- Environmentally Friendly – big in the 90s and noughties, now out of favour and generally viewed as embarrassingly unsophisticated… at least by anyone who doesn’t work for the mainstream media. My vote? Use only when trying to get people to stop saying ‘echo’.
- Green – well I’m not going to sledge this one because I’ve used it to name my blog. My vote; let’s put the Grrr back into Green.
- Sustainability – Originating from economics, well accepted as implying something to do with improving our relationship with the environment, and still broad enough that it’s starting to be used to address issues around people, health, community and society. My vote? Keep it, and don’t let the green-washers tarnish it.
- Resilience – an emerging favourite. Like a good red from Cape Town or McClaren Vale, this word has been suitably aged, has built on a history of sustainability language, and is classy enough to put ‘sustainability’ into a human and time-based context. In my mind resilience simultaneously suggests ‘urgency, strength and hope’. It’s edgy. My vote? Use it, but use it wisely. Get to understand it first.
- Prosperity – let’s be frank; the only way the sustainability agenda is ever going to succeed is when we realise that it is leading us to a healthier, wealthier and more prosperous future. For everyone. Prosperity is a big feel-good word and maybe we’re a bit scared to use it. So get some grrr and believe in it. Who wouldn’t want to think of themselves as a ‘prosperity planner’? My vote? Learn it, use it, bank it.
So there are a few words to play with. From zero to hero. The real fun starts when you try to mix’n’match.
You can also have a bit of fun using this Wordcount web site; it ranks the popularity of 86,800 English words based on usage. See where the above words rank. It even includes swear words [apparently], but clearly they didn’t survey me.