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I got it! Glow-in-the-dark underwear!

I wish I had been in the offices of a certain designer underwear firm when whomever came up with their latest marketing and product idea literally had their moment – literally.

‘Guys. GUYS! I got it! Glow-in-the-dark underwear! We’ll latch on to this green movement and market them as an excuse for turning out the lights! They’ll have artsy images of those compact fluorescent bulbs on them, and they’ll glow TOO!.’

Genius! I thought, when I first noticed the ad campaign. Had to have been the swiftest move from initial idea to final product in the history of retail. If only to have been in that room to witness that excitement, feel the energy in there when the light bulb – ironically – came on.

It is only underwear. But to the optimist (read: me), it’s a small represntation of what’s happening in the bigger picture. The underwear campaign gives a distinct nod to the environment, and is very hip (pun intended) in doing so. It’s mainstream. Buying a pair of sexy underwear is suddenly good for the earth, even if you’re not conscious of it. I know I’d sure as heck turn those lights out the minute I got home, lock myself in a dark closet with a pretty girl and see what happened. Saving electricity would not exactly be the first thing on my mind. But I would be, almost by accident.

Speaking of light bulbs, those little compact fluorescents (now printed on boxer shorts) and their LED cousins are a tremendous boon to the power consumption on a boat. They’re coming into the mainstream as well. Yes, they cost a premium over incandescents. But they last forever. The decision to retrofit them on an older boat suddenly doesn’t have to be an environmental one – it can be the result of a cost-benefit analysis, where their longevity more than makes up for the initial expense. And more and more builders are using them from the factory for similar reasons.

This is where the environmental movement needs to go. It needs to be un-politicized and turned into a basic function of the free market, and needs to be appealing. Guy Harvey’s new St. Pete Outpost that we touched on last issue is a prime example. The place will be a model for environmental stewardship in the hotel business, but it will do so quietly and unobtrusively. There won’t be a stigma attached with visiting there, good or bad. It will just be, and it will be inherently better for the planet.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the World Wildlife Fund’s ‘Earth Hour’ campaign started advertising in my neck of the woods around the same time that I first saw the ‘sexy sexy, boom boom’ underwear ad. The WWF’s goal is to make us denizens of the earth acutely aware of our impact on it by shutting off the lights simultaneously for one hour on March 31, the hope being that after those minutes in darkness people might gradually learn to do it on their own, and far more often.

I’ll be participating when the lights go out. And I’ll be wearing my glow-in-the-dark briefs.

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