What is the meaning of “being green”? [This is NOT about Kermit] posted by Chris Manthos

Or for that matter, what make a particular product “green”? Well aside from the PWC Nation knowing that green is Kawasaki, the issue is much less clear. I actually had a publisher of a major boating magazine contact me the other day to discuss which salt spot remover was “green”, and what the qualifications behind an “environmentally friendly” claim might be.

Immediately the answer or answers began to be less than clear to both of us.

For example: is the product or service environmentally friendly to manufacture or for use by the ultimate consumer – two distinct differences, right?

The answer of course is whatever the various corporate marketing folks hype as green or environmentally friendly.

One of my favorite examples of the hype involved is a newly designed bottle being introduced by one of the major West Coast bottled water companies. Their claim is that the new design uses 30% less plastic so the landfills will not be so overburdened with the discarded bottles. Oh please! Isn’t it far more likely that

the company engineers finally figured out a design that saves 30% material cost and probably a fair amount of shipping costs? And who benefits the most, the hundreds of landfills across the West where maybe a few hundred of the one brand of empty bottle might show up or the manufacturer saving 30% on their packaging of tens of thousands of bottles?

My point here is that there are a number of issues to consider when you go out and spend your hard earned dollars on PWC products and services, and encounter a product labeled “green” or environmentally friendly.

Those issues may include: is there a price advantage or price premium, is there a clear opportunity to recycle the product or its packaging in your own trash, is there a clear description of why this product or service is “green”, and when you compare the product to other comparable products can you see a benefit for you – especially if there is a price premium.

The bottom line for me here is that there is absolutely no hard and fast set of standards or regulations as to what is environmentally friendly – it is up to you as a consumer to make that judgment. You can count on one thing however, and that is that manufacturers and retailers will try to convince you to purchase a specific product or service by labeling it as “green” or environmentally friendly. It strikes me very much as leaning heavily on political correctness to sell an otherwise regular product. Use your good judgment to decide for yourself.

Another fine example of what I think is over hyped “being green” begins to get a little closer to home for all of you in the PWC Nation – ethanol/gasoline fuel blends. I will take on this issue in my next blog.