WindMade products do more than suck air

Windmade logo.


Kai Ryssdal: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today, there were panel discussions on financial reform in the Eurozone, how to control the spread of chronic diseases and what American businesses ought to be doing about climate change. The global green economy will be featured tomorrow morning as well when a new eco-label is unveiled: WindMade.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: I just moved back to the States last summer, and I'm still adjusting to two things: One, the overuse of LOL. And two, all these eco-labels: hormone-free, organic, Nature's Friend. And now, WindMade.

But Morton Albaek at Danish wind company Vestas says this one is different -- it's the first-ever clean energy seal of approval.

Morton Albaek: It could be a wind-made car, wind-made undershirts, to wind-made cellphones.

Vestas leads the WindMade campaign. Here's how it works -- you're in the shampoo aisle and spot a bottle with the blue circle logo.

Albaek: And besides that, it'll state how much wind energy has been used in producing this product. Let's say 28 percent or 56 percent. You could also have a shampoo producer who's actually chosen to go all-in -- the Full Monty -- 100 percent.

His polling suggests shampoo buyers around the world are game, but green energy tends to cost more. So WindMade products may have to compete on more than price.

Josh Saunders at the product rating group Good Guide thinks of one ecolabel that's pulled it off: Energy Star.

Saunders: There's a financial incentive to the consumer to buy an Energy Star product, because it will save them money on their home electric bills.

Appeal to people's greed, not their altruism. And, you need a good product, says Aron Cramer, co-author of "Sustainable Excellence."

Aron Cramer: All products have to succeed based on price, quality, accessibility and even the wow factor. If green is seen to get in the way of those things, it won't become mainstream.

The WindMade consortium wants 1,000 brands to commit to green energy by next year. Could be blowing smoke, but the bigger the market, the faster the innovation, says UCLA economist Matthew Kahn.

Matthew Kahn: Companies that focus on solar and wind power can be more confident of this sort of field of dreams effect. That if they come up with cheaper ways to produce wind and solar power, that they have a commitment from these firms to buy it.

WindMade logo products will appear later this year.

In Washington I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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I'm very much for clean wind energy. I wish the people of Japan would have had it in place of nuclear. Many deaths and the land they live on may not be useable for years and years. Come on people of good OL' USA. look to the future and get behind safe renewable energy.

Good idea? Yes. But are we going to see a spate of brands indicating “commitment to” other renewable energy sources (e.g., SolarMade, WaveMade)? Lining up 1,000 manufacturers to buy into a new brand is no small task, but from the point of view of the consumer it would make far more sense to launch a generic brand to identify commitment to any renewable energy source. Products qualifying to use this brand would indicate that a certain percentage of energy used to manufacture the product was derived from wind, solar, wave, geothermal, etc., or even some combination of these.

The WindMade PR is confusing: note how “renewable” is interchangeable with “wind power”. I suspect that we will witness changes in this strategy over time; perhaps WindMade will be integrated into an über-brand that will meet consumer need to support companies that are committed to using any source of green energy. In the meantime, Vestas should be lauded for its marketing savvy.

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