A prime example of this is the “paperless” option that many billing companies offer. Lets be honest. Are they really offering this service because they care about the environment? My hunch is their main motive for offering this option is to save mailing costs, not really to combat resource management or global climate change.
Look, I’m all for efficiency. If it’s easier to manage your bills and statements from your computer than from your checkbook then go for it. But when these companies attempt to make you feel guilty for preferring paper statements, or try to paint themselves as stewards of the environment, then their motives are somewhat deceptive.
The fact of the matter is that paper is one of the more renewable products out there. Most paper manufacturers these days use a combination of sustainable growth forests or recycled paper stock as their main resource. And if paper recycling is done properly, nearly all of the material that goes into the paper can be reused again and again and again. That’s about as efficient as it gets.
And that “green alternative” computer? First of all, it runs on electricity, which more often than not is created by burning coal, one of the more environmentally un-friendly fuels out there. And the computer itself contains significant portions of lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium, all of which have proven to have a significant negative impact on the environment, both in the harvesting of these resources and the disposal.
Another “enviro” gimmick that is commonly being used these days is the proliferation of those re-useable shopping bags. Yes, they do replace the plastic bags which undoubtedly is a good thing. Those cheapy plastic bags are about as bad as it gets, from the fossil fuels used to create them to the omni-present littering and the clogging of our streams and rivers.
If the re-useable enviro bags are made from hemp or cotton, then great. It’s a win-win – a renewable harmless re-useable recyclable bag to replace the plastic trash. But lately I’ve seen a fair amount of those re-useable bags made from poly-blends. And they’re typically not made well, a few uses and they can start ripping and falling apart, right to the trash. If the companies that distribute these bags were really concerned about the environment they would be made out of heavier, recyclable, natural materials like cotton or hemp, built to last and be re-used for years. But they’re made cheaply out of inexpensive materials, which leads me to believe that these companies are more concerned about the appearance of being green, then actually being earth-friendly.
If you look around, you’ll see a number of campaigns that are being sold to the public in the name of the environment. Natural gas fuels to eliminate the need of oil. Electric cars to eliminate the need of fossil fuels. Computers vs. paper. Shopping bags. Plastic water bottles. The list goes on.
I’m not saying I have the answers. Nor am I saying that all or even some of the aforementioned trends are all bad. After all, I am typing this post on an electronic-powered computer that you’re most likely reading on a monitor that could contain as much as four pounds of lead. What I am trying to say is that it’s important we take a close look at all of the decisions we make. The companies that are selling us on a lot of these “green” trends all have a vested interest in making money. It’s important that we make educated decisions with the earth’s best interests in mind, not the manufacturers.
Just my two cents worth …