Products hyped as 'green' often fall short
When green isn't green
The differing definitions of green
can sometimes cause green advocates to battle
over what is really green or what is greener.
One case in study is ethanol, which has recently
been touted as a cleaner and greener fuel
that cannot only help save the environment
but can help wean the United States off foreign
oil. But Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility
programs director for Co-op America, says
ethanol isn't really a green solution. Millions
of acres of land, argues Larsen, would need
to be cleared to plant more corn, more environmental
damage would occur from the run-off from fields
and a food crop would be diverted to energy.
It would ultimately raise the price of corn,
he adds, putting pressure on the world's poor
that won't be able to afford a major staple
of their diet.
|If each of the 1.7 million rental cars in the U.S. were a hybrid, more than 9 million gallons of gasoline would be saved -- every time the tanks are filled.
"A true green solution
(or greener solution) would be to increase
the fuel efficiency of the cars and create
more hybrids and plug-in vehicles," says
The demand for more fuel-efficient
cars has significantly increased in the past
couple of years but may be due more to the
increased price of gas than consumers' desires
to leave a smaller "footprint."
Nevertheless, automakers have been eager to
respond by promoting and advertising more
fuel efficient vehicles. Green advocates all
agree that as demand for green products and
services increases, so will the supply.
But at times, there appears
to be greenwashing even within the green community
itself. Al Gore, one of the leaders of the
environmental movement, has been criticized
for his nongreen policies when he pushed through
the North American Free Trade Agreement while
serving as vice president. The agreement opened
the door to some of the unfair trade practices
which many green organizations are speaking
out against today. People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, or PETA, for example,
cards on greenwashing organizations that
try to mask testing products on animals. Meanwhile,
PETA also has its critics, who say that the
organization kills more animals (through euthanasia)
than it helps.
“Ethanol isn't a 'green' solution -- it would mean clearing millions of acres of land, create pollution from run-off and deprive the world's hungry. ”
It might also be a fair observation
to say that nothing in the civilized world
is truly green. Those that live the hardcore
green lifestyle note that no matter how green
a product may be, chances are it is shipped
to stores on smoke-belching trucks and handled
by underpaid workers at some point in the
supply chain. Within the green realm are certain
levels of greenness that range from buying
a compact fluorescent light bulb to living
strictly off solar power, boycotting big chain
retailers and riding a bicycle.
Using 'green' to make green
Oil companies are far from being the
only greenwashers. Everyone from big-box retailers
to small service providers and corner stores
use the tactic to cater to a greener market.
Large corporations may be reluctant to change
their ways because of the costs involved,
but as more consumers demand green products,
going green can also be good for profits.
Shepp says green values can coexist with the
pursuit of profit.