Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vindication, Baby

Look, I know when I'm right about something. Even if someone else is screaming at me and telling me I'm wrong, while I may take that into consideration, I know when I'm right. And there's a word for it when I run across something that, at the very least, backs up my point to where I can then proclaim something else as well. And I call it 'vindication'.

I had a discussion a while back with an individual about the whole "going green" concept. I am not a fan of the green in general. Things that are green, it has been my experience, are not good. Broccoli? Too furry, blah. Spinach? Pile of slime, blah. Brussel sprouts? The grossest, most disgusting, never-meant-to-be-eaten, all condensed down into one little ball of wretchedness. Blah. So when I continue to hear over and over the term(s) "green" and "going green" along with "environmentally friendly", "natural", and my new non-favorite "sustainable", it just irritates me beyond all irritation. It's not because I have an aversion to saving the planet (which, I will say, I believe is increasing in temperature that is mostly caused by humans. It's not that I don't believe that. I do.). It's because people are morons. And they're going to make it worse before they make it better if it keeps going like it is.

People are, as a semi-blanketing general rule, also greedy bastards who will pounce on any opportunity that they see to make a quick buck. Note the term "quick". It has to be a "quick buck" and not just a "buck". That's because people, as a semi-blanketing general rule, are also lazy asses. Money for nothing and your chicks for free is the unrealized motto of several hundreds of thousands of individuals out there. (And it doesn't sound all that bad if you think about it.) And the whole "green" thing has just brought the "quick buck" people out of the woodwork. (I have no idea where that phrase comes from. 'Out of the woodwork'. It sounds kind of scary if you think about it. People just popping out of wood all of a sudden. That's enough to give you a heart attack, not to mention unexpected company.)

I have said many times that just because something says it's "green", that doesn't mean crap. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, who's to know because there is no set standard for what is or is not green. (The only semi-exception to that statement is in the building industry where they do have standards for what constitutes a "green" structure. It's questionable as to whether the end result has to be "green" or whether just the products used have to be "green".) It seems as if any moron out there (and there are a bunch to choose from) can slap a "green" label on something and that's good enough. NO! No, it's not!

And today, my pessimistic and somewhat negative attitude toward all of the "green" movements, products, talk, movies, crap, etc. was vindicated by a one Susan Lewicki, the senior environmental educator for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission's new Environmental Center. :::gasp!:::: (Geez, you couldn't come up with a shorter title, ma'am? Good Lord, I'm out of breath.) She said, "The word 'green' doesn't mean anything." That right there? That's vindication, baby.

She continued, "A lot of products that claim to be green really have no benefit on the environment. It's just a way to get your attention." That's vindication again, baby. She cited a study by an eco-marketing firm called Terrachoice which tested a thousand products which had all claimed that they were 'green'. The study found that all of the products except for ONE made some sort of claim which was deceiving, vague, irrelevant, unproven or just a flat out, big, fat lie.

Take when a product comes in a aerosol can, for example. That can could be labeled that it is CFC-free. Well, CFCs are bad for the environment! It makes that unseen, theoretical hole in the ozone layer (which IS there, I know that!) just get bigger and bigger if we keep pumping products with CFCs into the air! So an aerosol product that is CFC-free must be good for the environment, right?! Right! So you should buy the aerosol product that claims to be CFC-free, right? Not so fast. Oh, don't get me wrong, you should buy aerosol products that are CFC-free. And you will. As ALL aerosol products have been CFC-free since 1978. Ah-HA!

See, that's just weaselly. And people are what? Right, lazy morons. Because they're lazy, they are highly unlikely to do any sort of research on this stuff. AND because they also want to feel good about doing something while, at the same time, doing absolutely nothing they will look for ridiculous things like that. And then what happens? The part that makes me crazy, of course. The company makes money, the person feels happy and absolutely nothing gets done and nothing changes. What a great way to save the environment! Fool ourselves into thinking something is being done when actually nothing is. Brav-o, morons. Brav-o.

It's a money thing. This saving the environment gig means huge bucks for people and companies. Without some sort of standard or regulation, it's going to become a bigger mess than it already is. The thing is, most people don't realize that it's already a big mess. But that's for two reasons. Either they don't want to realize it because they're making too much money the way things are, or they feel like they're helping the environment by buying something that says it's green and it's really the "feel good" aspect that they're after, so why change that? We're doomed, I tell you. Doomed.

And if money and profit are going to be driving this 'green' movement, it's all the more reason for a universal standard and some sort of regulation. (By the way, I am not one to be in favor of more laws, believe me. I really wish things could regulate themselves most of the time. But there are instances where that is going to be impossible and this is one of them.) But really, the best direction to go with the 'green' thing is a direction that companies won't want to go in.

Rather than make products that are 'green' in nature or that are manufactured through a 'green' process, what if companies made products that lasted longer? Products that could be upgraded instead of replaced? Products that you wouldn't have to keep buying over and over and over again? You can have a ton of stuff that's manufactured in a 'green' process, but is that really going to matter in the end when you have the ton of stuff that you just made and sold discarded within a year? Now you have a really large 'green' ass landfill, full of crap that was obsolete before you got it home from the store. Nice. How much sense does that make? None. But are companies going to want to make things that you don't have to continually keep buying from them repeatedly? Um, no.

So, fool yourself all you want. Buy anything you want that says 'green' if all you're looking to do is to make yourself feel better and not looking to really do something that matters. But if you would like to feel like you're doing something that is better than nothing (or at least something that isn't making something worse), you can always check things out for yourself. :::gasp:::: I know! The horror! Yes, it will require some effort on your part, but the worst thing that can happen (I think) is that you might learn something and you might actually start doing something that is actually doing something.

There are even handy sites online to help you out with all of your 'green' fact checking quests. Sites such as:

The Global Ecolabeling Network and Green Seal both help you identify which types of labeling are deceptive. They also have info on things that are legitimately 'green.' I can hear the soft-heads saying, "Well, they could be lying also!" Sure, they could, but they're not. So put on your helmet and do something instead of nothing.

Vindication is a pretty good feeling.

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