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Scuppie Tales: It's Not Just Smart To Be Green, It's Fashionable, Too
You may not realize it, but you probably have been noticing the growing ranks of an interesting and increasingly influential segment of our society.
You see them at Whole Foods, where they pick out the choicest and most expensive microgreens for their organic salads while sipping a coffee made from free-trade beans. You bump into them in the mall, where they're shopping for bamboo bath towels and soy-fiber undies that they pay for using a credit card that donates to fighting AIDS in Africa. You notice them installing solar panels on the roofs of their homes, where they tend to have a Toyota Prius comfortably parked in the driveway.
Sound familiar? It should; these good do-bees with comfortable incomes have emerged from their wasteful '80s cocoons as socially conscious citizens of a newly green planet. They are making their presence known in almost every segment of pop culture with their altruistic (yet stylish) lifestyles.
Sure you recognize them. You might even be one of them.
But what to call them? Charles Failla knows: They're Scuppies.
Scuppie — Socially Conscious Upwardly-mobile Person — is the moniker Failla, a financial planner who lives in Stamford, has coined for a person who enjoys the good life but also wants to make life good for others on this thirsty planet (in other words, the Scuppie's love of money does not preclude his love of nature). Failla has long recognized the growing Scuppie movement and intends to market the idea of people who have the environmental values of a Hippie and the economic drive of a Yuppie.
Failla, president of Sovereign Financial Group in Stamford, owns the trademark to Scuppie (see www.scuppie.com) and has written a book, "The Scuppie Handbook," he hopes to publish soon. Like "The Official Preppie Handbook" and "The Yuppie Handbook" before it, "The Scuppie Handbook" seeks to define the ethos while casting an informative and humorous light on the subject.
"I'm not promoting that people should be Scuppies. I'm just saying there are Scuppies," said the 39-year-old Failla, who readily admits he's a Yuppie-turned-Scuppie. "The overall theme is that this is a positive thing. I think most of us who fall into this category realize that, hey, I know I'm not doing everything I can for the environment, but at least I'm doing something.
"The real force here is that the buying power of these collective consumers is forcing corporations to be more green."
Growth In Green ProductsIndeed. According to Mintel Global New Products Database, almost 200 million Americans buy green products and the number of those green products on the marketplace in 2007 has grown 200 percent from the year before.
"We're seeing rapid growth in new products with environmentally friendly traits," Chris Haack, senior research analyst at Mintel, stated in a release, adding that "more than ever, shoppers want to purchase goods that help protect and preserve the world around them. Manufacturers have responded with everything from recyclable packaging to products that maintain the body's health to entire brands that support environmental causes."
In this growing free-range world where more and more are working toward reducing their carbon footprint, a Scuppie manifesto isn't just prescient, it's validating. Failla said he recalls the day, about 10 years ago, when the Scuppie lightbulb (hopefully, CFL) went on over his head.
A stockbroker at the time, he had all the trappings of a Yuppie: the Armani suit and the Rolex. A co-worker, who heard him on the phone arranging some volunteer work, said, half joking, something like, "I can't believe a Yuppie scum like you would do anything for free," Failla recalls.
"My instantaneous gut reaction was that it's entirely possible for me to be socially conscious and upwardly mobile at the same time," he said.
He doodled with "Yuppie" and "socially conscious" and thus was born Scuppie.
While his Scuppie handbook is still negotiating a publisher (he may publish himself), Failla said he continues to see the growing Scuppie force around him. It's that well-to-do, well-meaning segment of the green movement he hopes will see themselves in his handbook, which, like the preppy handbook, is a good-natured, informative and self-validating look at a pop cultural trend.
He also recognizes that Scuppies may not appreciate seeing themselves in any type of humorous light and that full-fledged environmentalists probably don't consider Scuppies part of the green movement.
"Greener-than-thous say Scuppies aren't pure environmentalists. I say you're right; they're not," he said. "The way I see it, a Scuppie is someone who wants to do something for the environment but they don't want to get too crazy about it. They're certainly going to do more than a Yuppie would."
'You Don't Have To Choose'Scuppies might find they resemble Failla's own arc from conspicuous consumer to environmentally conscious consumer.
"I still love nice things. I love a nice house, nice things and good food, but I'm trying to get a greener alternative from all those," he said. "You don't have to choose one or the other. You can have both."
The arc from hippie to yuppie to Scuppie is something that Fabian DeGarbo, director of sustainable packaging for Whole Foods Market, talked about at the recent International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago, where the green flag waved mightily. Today's new eco-status bragging rights will be, "my carbon footprint is smaller than yours," DeGarbo said.
For a Scuppie, that could be recycling the single-malt scotch bottles, Failla joked.
What Failla isn't joking about is the potential for Scuppie marketing. His handbook certainly fits right into the attention generated by the green movement that will enjoy the spotlight on Earth Day on Tuesday.
"It's becoming not only important to be green, but it's downright fashionable," Failla said.
Ah, spoken like a true Scuppie.
Contact Greg Morago at email@example.com