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Consume Green

Is anyone else experiencing some painful “green” ennui? Ecoholic author Adria Vasil warns Canadian consumers not to believe every earth-friendly…

By Amy Hadley , in Blogs Consumerland , on January 18, 2008

Is anyone else experiencing some painful “green” ennui?

Ecoholic author Adria Vasil warns Canadian consumers not to believe every earth-friendly claim they see shouting at them from packaging and advertisements. Beware of corporate “greenwashing” she warns. It’s a warning that should be taken seriously.

I don’t want to completely expose myself as a self-righteous hypocrite, but I was raised in a family where composting was compulsory (“bring your banana peels home from school, kids” were my dad’s embarrassing instructions) where ancient, reusable bags made a trip to Safeway each week, and where bath water could be used by two, maybe three individuals (consecutively, people, we weren’t that weird), and why not?

During school lunch hour I tried to hide the fact that I was eating a sandwich out of a washed out, but still slightly streaky milk-bag.

I should be thrilled that Canada has a freshly painted, green collective conscience. Elated that we’re constantly bombarded by environmental messages. Milk-bag girls should be all the rage now, right? Right?

Well, I doubt it. The word “green” is every second word coming from the government (and we saw how well that government performed in Bali), but the whole phenomenon seems to be less walk and way more talk.

Companies are outdoing even government when it comes to hollow environmental rhetoric. Green is a brilliant marketing ploy. It seems that simply stamping the word “green” on a product is enough to give shoppers that warm fuzzy feeling they need to justify another purchase.

Maybe sometimes spending money is better than nothing, like in the case of carbon credits, but as is often the case, this seems like an empty attempt on the part of companies to look like they’re doing their share.

Last year the Gazette cited a survey showing that less than 25% of Canadians are willing to pay extra for carbon offset costs on air flights. I’d like to think that’s because they recognize the ploy as a cop-out and a half, but it’s probably more about the ten dollars.

In the end, the popularity of the green message may be doing more to confuse the average Canadian then actually helping or prompting them to do their part for the environment.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘what a self-righteous little hypocrite this kid is.’ Fair enough.

Now, are you going to use that empty milk bag, or can I have it?


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