Interesting stuff. Very different underlying assumptions than I'm used to.
Most of the "educate the masses to buy green" stuff I see assumes that corporations will only act responsibly if consumers put enough pressure on them to do so. Chad's assumption is the reverse - that most consumers will only act responsibly if corporations make it so easy for them that they're not even aware they're doing so.
I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between.
You need a critical mass of consumers to push the corporations to do the right thing, and once enough corporations are on board, it'll start seeping down into the regular product lines.
I see green options for toilet paper & household cleaners from the usual suspects (Marcal, Clorox, etc.), and i think it's great. From a non-eco consumer point of view I think the eco cleaners are great too because I frequently use them around food and don't like the harsh chemicals or smells when I'm eating, so the growth will begin to happen as people find more benefits than just those stated on the packaging.
Laundry detergent is a bit harder to find - I use Ivory or Woolite because it's what my local pharmacy carries and is the least chemical-filled of the options available to me as I'm shopping at 1am getting ready to do laundry, but I'd love to use a 7th Generation product or an eco option from the companies that make Ivory & Woolite, but they haven't filtered into my local 24 hour pharmacy yet.
And then there's the fact that the chemicals in laundry detergent do something that the eco stuff can't - optical brighteners, for example, are horrible for the environment, but keep your clothes looking new... So the fashion industry will have to change too & people's perception of "new" needs to change to something more eco friendly (read: less optically brightened clothing) - you say every designer should own a copy of Cradle to Cradle? Let's get the fashion industry to read it too & make every major design on the runways in 2010 sustainable.
Fashion Designers are not the corporations that manufacture the clothes, nor are they the consumers that buy them - but they have a huge influence with both. They're outside the corporation-down or consumer-up cycle & this, I think, is where we can have the most impact. It's easier to educate a few designers than it is to change corporations or consumers, yet by changing a few designers, we can accomplish the latter. Since designers are in the business of creating demand, they don't have to worry about consumer resistance in the same way that corporations do, and the very act of them doing what they do will educate consumers.
The effort has to be made on all fronts at once. Not just grassroots up and not just top down, but as a whole, comprehensive, 360 degree program. We need to start thinking "If green were a product, how would I promote it?"
What if there was a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting green? If I can hire a PR agency to get my products on popular TV shows and in the hands of major celebs on the runway, why can't we hire a PR agency to get green on TV shows & green on the runway? (Anyone ready for the Green Carpet treatment?)