Green. That’s the color of the dollar

Al Gore & Earth
Image by kendrick via Flickr

Recently, I’ve been on vacation in the northern Israel, staying at an “ecological lodge”. A sample of principles the ecological lodge adheres to:

  • The water from the bathtub waters the garden, so you’re not allowed to use soap (there is a shower for that)
  • Your dishes are recycled, which is the eco-friendly term for “old and half-broken”
  • No bleach is used for laundry, so all bedclothes are stained

(Top this with an annoying landlord, bake for 4 days and go crazy.)

One thing that caught my attention, regarding the linen, was that the lodge owners chose to clean their sheets with an industrial laundry service, and yet the use of bleach was what troubled them. It seemed phony, as if it was being done to create a (false) impression, or perhaps to be excused of having dirty bedclothes. I couldn’t find any “real” green technology at the lodge, such as sustainable energy generation or recycled building materials.

If you look at trend predictions for 2010, you’ll see there is a “green” item on every list. Along the decade the green movement has grown in numbers, with proponents such as Al Gore preaching against global warming, water contamination and other hazardous prospects for mankind –  some of which are probably true.

Right behind the green movement are a whole bunch of environment-friendly corporations, ready to sell us organic food, eco-friendly soap and recycled toothbrushes. The increasing propaganda in favor of environmentalism has created a new niche market for so-called “green” products. More often than not, the green card serves as an excuse to raise the product price or lower its quality.

Take for example my parents: They’ve recently bought a new version of Acquire, which is their favorite boardgame. Instead of a convenient plastic board and pieces, the new version is made of dull cardboard. My parents were so disappointed, they decided to stick with the old version. Lucky me received a brand new Acquire.

Image representing Better Place as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase

Contrast this with Shay Agasi’s Better Place. This electric car venture is promising a tremendous change in the environment. And yet, if you listen to Shay Agasi speak, he barely mentions the green aspect. He’s not marketing his car to the small niche of people who care enough about the environment; Rather, he’s claiming everyone would benefit from the transition.

In order to truly “save” the environment (this is a partial lie; It is ourselves that we are trying to save) it won’t help for 1% of the market to go green. It should be as natural a choice as Shay Agasi’s electric car is. Manufacturers should choose to go green because it would be economically wise. That will happen when the government will tax for the environmental cost of industry. When a manufacturer is being asked to pay for the mess he is making he finds greener methods, or at the least he sets right the mess he’s created.

Stop buying green products. Stop funding this marketing fad that is doing nothing to save the planet. Instead, give your support to green legislation: The only real way I see to stop polluting the planet.

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Posted Monday, February 15th, 2010 under Life 2.0.

3 comments

  1. I totally agree with the sentiment in your penultimate sentence. The greenest thing you can do is NOT buy green.
    Remember, the first of the 3Rs is Reduce! (followed by Reuse and Recycle).
    There’s a reason they come in that order: Not using that paper is more environmentally friendly than recycling it.

  2. Hi,
    found you through Omer Gertel’s blog.
    I agree with your attitude. Many of the “green” practices are superficial and work only as a psychological soother, rather than having a real noticeable effect.

    I would argue though against “punishing” business for pollutiong the environment, but rather set-up “cap and trade” market, in which each company / industry is allowed a certain level of pollution which it can sell in the market. This way, the environmental factor becomes an economical one.
    By the way, it can be made global, with poor countries benefiting from selling their polluting rights.

  3. Welcome. I’ve been reading you through Omer for a while now. :-)

    If you allow every business a set amount of “free” pollution rights then you’re not playing for a zero-sum: The environment gets polluted more and more.

    The “punishment” I propose is actually the cost of minimizing the environmental damage or creating substitutes for depleted resources. It’s not perfect, but in theory it allows for a zero-sum game, where every product is priced not by it’s manufacturing cost, but by its life-cycle cost.

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