In his Autobiography, Ben Franklin has much to say about the importance of status and reputation when one is trying to “make it” in America. Consider this classic passage:
If green products are too cheap, they might undermine the buyer’s ability to signal her status — a desire built into our evolutionary psychology. Griskevicius and his colleagues recommend that companies find a way to publicize the fact that celebrities buy green products. They might also consider keeping those products at a higher price, since penniless people can’t afford to indulge in status-seeking and others will pay a premium for it. We may all be selfish and petty, but there’s no reason the planet can’t benefit from those shortcomings.
Arts and Letters Daily has described it all as “conspicuous environmentalism.”