Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clean City: Selling the Clean Brand.

 Selling the Clean Brand. 


 ... identifying the problem and promoting remediation are necessary to bring clean up into the daily fabric of the business community. Businesses need to earn the Vermont Green and Clean Brand.     

     It is the first week of March, and I am walking along the business district surveying the landscape seeking signs of improvement, of encouragement. Though I find more litter along the sidewalks, roadsides and store fronts than the previous week at most establishments, I put a smile on my face and enter the first retail business- a pizza parlor. My 30-second commercial has me introducing myself, advising that I write a column called Green and Clean and am out promoting cleanup of our retail shopping areas for a healthier and more pleasant community.
     I encourage the business manager and owner to walk around the establishment grounds, parking lot, as well as the adjoining sidewalk and public green space on regular intervals, whereupon maintaining a litter free welcoming mat into their business. I suggest to them that it seems an oversight to spend dollars on advertising and building face-lifts only to neglect simple maintenance like grounds (litter) clean up.  I suggest their patrons would appreciate and welcome renewed focus on community beautification by keeping their storefronts clean. If I am lucky, by this time the face looking back at me is also smiling, though this is not always the case.

      I gauge my options. Sometimes I simply say Thank You for your time and consideration. Other times I ask what barriers may be preventing or inhibiting a more diligent and effective clean up regimen. Controversy is not within my comfort zone. Nor do I wish to place blame or chastise. I do not even consider myself much of a salesperson, though I have researched a multitude of harmful effects litter has on nature and people. By identifying the problem, humanizing it, and expressing concern, I hope to provide fertile ground for a change of attitude towards intolerance of litter.

Litter Picking is an All Season Sport.
Short version:
     Engaging business owners requires persistence and patience.

For a few years now, I have visited businesses on Williston rd. with a 2-minute appeal and informational awareness campaign about maintaining a litter free storefront.

The two minute appeal covers

·         Litter awareness and the opportunity to remove the site blemish

·         Inordinate cost benefit ratio compared to infrastructure embellishments

·         Ending with a question-what are the barriers preventing you from maintaining a litter free site?

     Community is not static. Community needs to be sought, developed, and nourished. Invite people to and encourage communally beneficial and non-exclusive activity like litter picking, clean up; that in turn develops community. I wish to connect with others who also yearn to eradicate litter in our communities year round.

      Litter picking each week as I walk with our two dogs in our neighborhood is much easier to do than canvassing busy proprietors who have a multitude of challenges beyond litter on their lots. Yet voicing the message, identifying the problem and promoting remediation are necessary to bring clean up into the daily fabric of the business community.

     Vermont carries a brand image of Green and Clean. Sustaining the cleanup effort and focusing on litter prevention year round can make our businesses representative of a Green and Clean Vermont-branding worth earning.

     As I leave the last business, my smile is genuine as I remember that I have reached out and connected with business owners on a personal level. I recall that the answer to ‘no’ is that you have not asked enough times yet-or not enough of you have asked.

     I encourage readers to log onto my website
 to copy and print my clean up coupon  then drop it off at any retailer that you feel needs a gentle reminder of the opportunity they have to establish a healthy clean environment around their storefront.  
SEE CLEAN UP COUPON LINK on the column on the right or click on the address above.

CSR; Corporate Social Responsibility. People want companies to help solve social problems.
Litter is an issue of potential harm and of potential opportunity for business and people. Clean communities represent a Social Value. Collaboration between consumers (People who purchase goods) and the businesses who provide those goods or services can help eradicate litter-solve a social problem important to both parties.

WANTED: Branding to Stigmatize littering behavior, de-stigmatize litter picking year round actions.

Other Commercial/Retail and city government postings:
     Ø  Will businesses cultivate Clean Branding?:

Ø  Trash and cigarette receptacle proposal to city council: