The Color of Sustainability

Is blue the new green? Can green design, ie environmentally-responsible products and design decisions, be defined by any color -other- than green? Heck, do we even Need to have a specific color define this movement at all? Can't we just do away with the marketing tag lines and color coding?
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When this first went mainstream, I predicted we would be 'over-greened' with companies taking the eco-friendly spin. No longer a specialty niche market, or a passing trend, consumers now expect to find environmentally-sensitive products in every category. Sustainability is now a cultural shift.
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"Reduce, reuse, recycle" was where it all started. But environmental responsibility is evolving, and the new mantra requires one step further: adding back to our world. For the design profession, this means "clients will hire design consultants with the ability to both envision a design solution and quantify some sort of value on a ‘green to blue’ spectrum," explains Janice Barnes from the architecture firm Perkins+Will (source).

Some examples of blue design, include:
  • fitness clubs where energy used is generated by treadmill and exercise bike usage
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  • Alice Waters's Edible Schoolyard program in Berkeley; a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom where students learn about, grow, and harvest healthy produce. (source)
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But it goes further than just blue. A recent report, called The SHIFT Report: Defining Sustainability and Selling it to Consumers, report identifies four colors of consumer perception about sustainability:

Orange - Personal (balanced life, feeling connected, personal well-being)
Yellow - Spiritual (higher purpose and meaning to life beyond material possessions)
Green - Environmental (eco-fashion, global warming, pollution, recycling, etc)
Blue - Social (fair trade, treatment of employees, community involvement, etc)
A review of the report determined that the top 5 sustainability issues that consumers associated with sustainability were orange, yellow and blue. Nope, green was not in the top.  (source)

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The cultural shift in consumerism has brought to the surface some interesting ideas.
I like how this article puts it: "the solution is not a congratulatory pat on the back of consumers communicated by images of clear blue skies and lush green vegetation. Rather, designers must challenge the status quo and rethink the very core of consumption." (source)

What about this for a theory: “Sustainability is transparent, void of obscuring color. It is clear, open, and visible. Sustainability is naked.” Do you agree? If we need a broader platform than green, where do we go from here?