Buried in a design article, I found a link to a report that Ogilvy and Mather (yes, that Ogilvy) wrote about how to marketing sustainable and environmentally friendly products and services.
I suggest that everyone with an interest read at least the executive summary, but here is the basics:
1. All the fear mongering of environmental destruction scares people from caring more than scaring them into action.
2. The pricing and marketing have created a small market of the rich and women into being interested in this issue. The 80% non-rich, and men in general are alienated by these products.
3. To tap into the majority, we have to go to what motivates them. Make sustainable product normal, reasonably priced, familiar and attract people to these products through positive marketing. A comparison that the report makes is imagine marketing Budweiser versus Stella Artois.
My take: Pretty damning to the whole (largely) pretentious way that the issue has been dealt with in design. All of these conferences, "accords", "design is the problem" quotes, "Massive Change" etc has been hurting the movement.
Personally, I've moved products closer to the goals of recyclability, reduction of waste, etc more through arguing that it doesn't cost more (at least to improve on what we had done) and just doing it than through any kind of other argument. If it's that way with my clients, I would imagine it would be that way with the general market.