After 9/11, every politician in America quickly donned an American flag lapel pin. Even nine years later, the patriotism of public officials who fail to wear the pin is called into question, while others are called hypocritical if they wear the pin while opposing things like legislation to give health benefits to 9/11 first responders. Could there be a pin that is unquestionably patriotic and that simultaneously makes the world a better place?

This week, CBS EcoMedia will unveil a lapel pin for advertising, a small leaf on something they call “eco-ads”. It works like this – – a typical ad on TV, radio, a billboard, or any other media, sports the eco-ad logo because a percentage of the ad revenue is used to install a solar panel on a local school or community center. The advertiser gets the green halo and America reduces its addiction to polluting fossil fuels.

After a war in Iraq over oil, with thousands of lives lost and a trillion dollars squandered, I call the eco-ad “lapel pin” patriotic. It’s also a testament to American ingenuity – – take dollars that would otherwise evaporate in an ether of quickly forgotten images and apply them instead to a tangible asset that saves money on a community’s energy bill, makes the air cleaner, and helps the country become more energy independent.

Why wouldn’t every advertiser do this? Perhaps because media companies and advertisers don’t know if the eco-ad logo will motivate consumers any more than we know if a flag pin on a politician’s lapel makes him/her more likely to do things that actually benefit the USA. But in today’s world of social media, consumers could use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for that matter, to spread the word that we can help the nation and the planet by supporting companies that use eco-ads to invest in our communities. More consumer response might result in more eco-ads and more funding of these smart, patriotic projects.

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Solving global energy and climate change challenges demands that everyone make a contribution, not just wait for a new miracle technology or for the UN to replace the Kyoto Protocol with something more effective. The simple act of responding to an eco-ad may be a good start and a good way to endorse a lapel pin with a purpose.

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