Green products – marketing or real change in values and attitude?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Numerous “green” products, claiming to have but a small environmental footprint in comparison to their conventional counterparts, give us the feeling to think and live more sustainable. But, has really enough been done and are the products really as environmentally friendly as their claims suggest? The answer here must be an emphatic NO.

greenwashThe potential as far as consumer products to become “greener” is immense. According to German research consumers in that country in 2011 spent around 36 Billion Euros worth of “sustainable” products, around 14 Billion of that on products in the energy savings and energy efficient living sector. I do not, I have to admit, any figures for Britain or the USA but that is neither her nor there in the discussion.

The problem is that many of those so-called “green” products are not actually as green as they make out to be and greenwash still rules the roost supreme, and this in almost each and every sector of the sustainability market, so to speak.

While it may be eco-friendly to buy this or that product made from recycled materials in many cases people have to look no further that their trash can or recycling bin where to find the raw materials from which to make the very things themselves. In fact, those things should not even end up in those bins and be reused as much as possible.

That is, however, but one area. When it comes to energy efficiency and saving of energy and water it would be much better rather than buying and using special devices to reduce consumption and use in the same was as reuse, reduction is better than the other options.

In the EU, including Britain, we have had the supposedly energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) forced upon us which, in themselves, in their manufacture and disposal, present an environmental problem, rather than having worked on more efficient use of the old style of light bulbs, that is to say the incandescent ones.

The latter ones, while being a little more juicy as to the consumption of energy is concerned, do not pose a health risk or one to the environment, unlike strip lights and CFLs and the latter are but a compact version of the former, due to their mercury content.

We should have rather developed better lamps with mirrors and such like or, like the on shoemaker's globe, with lenses to increase the lumen output of even the lowest power incandescent bulbs rather than having gone for enforcing upon an entire population those CFLs which may do more harm than good. I doubt that it would have been difficult.

In the old days we used sconces to reflect the light of a candle or an oil lamp away from the wall and magnify it and there would have been many ways of increasing the lumen output of the incandescent light bulb by making lamps more efficient without the need for high wattage ones instead of messing about with the CFLs which are not at all safe. Greenwash this is in the same way as with so many other products.

The problem is that the consumer either is not given a choice by having something forced upon him or her or is being sold a lie or both. And I do not even want to start with the electric car.

Industry and governments alike are conning the consumer into believing that he or she is doing a good deed for the environment – and in other instances governments even force consumers to this – but the truth is often different than what we are being told.

People have also been conditioned to think recycling before anything else and hence waste reduction and the reuse of anything that can be has fallen by the wayside and the supposed recyclability of products such as computers, cell phones, etc., has led top an increase in waste rather than a reduction as people believe that everything is fine in going to get new even if the old one works fin as the old one can be entirely recycled. Somewhere along the way the point is being missed, namely the one that we must reduce and not just waste products but consumption.

However, the mere advocating of this can now be construed as an act of domestic terrorism as it could slow down the economic growth, this word that keeps popping up time and again. Growth on a finite Planet, and the Earth is finite, it cannot grow, is a misnomer and a recipe for disaster.

In order to grow the economy, under the guise of reducing the effects of a changing climate, it has been mentioned that people might be forced to replace their white goods, that is to say refrigerators, cookers, washing machines, etc., with energy efficient models even if their old ones are still working perfectly. This does not help the Planet, it just helps industry and creates a mountain of waste. A present people are just being “encouraged” to buy those, supposedly, energy-efficient white goods but, as said, it could come to people being forced to replace and the new “smart meters” could possibly be used to do just that. The latter are also being forced upon the people whether they want them or not. And those can, in fact, cut people off the grid if the powers-that-be decide that the householders use too much energy.

Total people control all in the name of combating climate change. But I digressed a little.

When it comes to green products and such like one can but wonder whether industry just manages to blind both the consumers and governments alike with the claims often attached and even scientists seem to be involved in this scam, such as with reducing paper use and going paperless saving the tropical rainforests. The wood from those trees is actually not suitable for the making of paper pulp.

Going paperless, especially in governments, has nothing whatsoever too do with saving trees, regardless of the claims, but with saving money as far as printed materials are concerned. And the paper industry, in fact, keeps many forests in existence that would not be there would it not be for the paper industry. So, going paperless could cost us forests as the industry owns those and if there is no benefit in keeping them they might sell the land off to developers.

There is more to many things than meet the eye but the public is often being blinded by the powers-that-be on purpose as to the truth of things. A proper book is more than likely more environmentally-friendly than is an e-book reader and electronic books and, in addition to that, you actually own the book unlike the electronic ones (unless they are PDFs on your PC) which, in the case of Amazon on Kindle, the company, despite the fact that you have paid for it, still maintains to be its property. You cannot legally and technically pass them on to someone else and neither can you print them out.

The public has to learn to be much more discerning if we, as a whole, really every are going to make an impact as far as reducing our impact on the Planet is concerned for there is so much greenwash around from industry and government that cutting through this fog of war requires more than night vision goggles and infrared equipment.

© 2013