Tracy Petrucci: How Pinterest Is Helping The Green Movement

Friday, March 2, 2012

How Pinterest Is Helping The Green Movement

This is my latest article for Care 2:

Anyone who is online these days has probably heard of Pinterest. The social media site has become one of the fastest growing sharing platforms this year, allowing Internet surfers to “pin” and organize photos of things they like online.

You’ll find the usual inspirational quotes and phrases, women’s dream wedding ideas, new recipes, art, and trendy style, just to name a few. But what I really like about the site is the way it’s helping green and sustainable ideas become more accepted.

The users mainly pin photos of beautiful things, designs, or ideas they want to replicate.n And you better believe a huge percentage of these inspiring photos floating around are recycled products. In fact, users are creating more and more boards for their pins with titles such as “Eco-Friendly Design” or “Making a Difference.”

Marie Kinnaman, a designer who specializes in re-purposing and thrifting for parties, recently blogged about putting out vintage hankies at a wedding. “I have been collecting hankies for years. Many of them came from my husband’s grandmother and many were found in thrift stores, flea markets, and at garage sales,” explains Kinnaman. No more than a few hours after she had posted the blog about the hankies, were people already pinning the photo as a possible future idea.
Other things from the same Kinnaman-designed wedding that show how to be green at a wedding included buying a variety of different white coffee cups from thrift stores and using some old vintage wallpaper found in “grandma’s attic” as a table runner. Even the bowl the hankies were held in was a thrift store find.

My thought is this: if people were not circulating attractive photos of these eco-friendly ideas, your average person would not think too fondly of the idea of buying used coffee cups for their wedding, or using old hankies for guests. However, Pinterest is showing the aesthetically pleasing side to “green” that many would not have been open to before. Stack up a bunch of mixed n’ matched white cups and take a great picture of them, and it’s similar to something you might see at the trendy store Anthropologie or even Crate and Barrel.

If you read the comments under many of these photos being circulated, you can instantly see how users are absolutely charmed by the cleverness of reusing everyday items in a new way. I’ve been victim of this giddiness myself, realizing, “Wow, I’d never have thought of doing that!”
Simply search “wood pallet” and hundreds of beautiful photos will come up with all the things you can do with an old wooden pallet. Interestingly, in real life I’m a small business marketer. My blog is mostly made up of “boring” business tips. However, when I went outside of the box once to blog about my favorite wood pallet idea from Pinterest, the post got more views than anything on my blog ever has, and that remains the same to this day!

Are people who are on Pinterest more green minded? I don’t really think so. But I think this website is aiding in a more widespread acceptance of upcycling, recycling, thrifting and reselling. People are sharing and viewing new content in ways that were not possible before.

But with that being said, there are definitely some pros and cons to Pinterest’s sharing overload, as many photo owners are worried their work will get lost over time and nobody will know where it came from, or in other words, copyright issues.

And since Pinterest has grown so much this year (a 429% increase from September to December 2011), so has the demand for a way to opt out of allowing your photos to be pinned. The option is available in the help section of Pinterest and provides a code for website owners to embed on their site. When users try to pin a photo it simply says, “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

From a marketing perspective, the opportunity your idea or product could become viral is nothing to be scoffed at. Small, indie and sustainable designers are finally realizing they have the potential to become as widely known as some of their biggest competitors. When the sharing of content is organic and natural, you can’t stop the trends of human behavior. And this trend of seeing more and more popular green ideas spreading around the Internet like wildfire is one I am definitely standing behind!

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