Greenwash Part 2

Well it has been a while but the folks over at “Our Green Year” have been busy imposing their brand of ‘bandwagon green’ again. Here are some of the choice posts of the last couple of weeks:

One of their most ‘brilliant’ solutions for going green is to eradicate the plastic button. Yes, you read correctly, the lowly button:

Throughout Our Green Year, we have tried to remove plastic from our lives. Plastic is the scorn of our planet’s existence. It seems that every area of the planet has plastic in it and when archeologists look at our layer in history when they dig down, they will see a solid layer of plastic. While that is an exaggeration, the truth is that plastic is everywhere and in everything and it takes 1,000 years for it to degrade away.

One plastic item that most of us never think of, but may use every single day, is the buttons on our shirts. I enjoy wearing plaid shirts, but all my plaid shirts have plastic buttons on them. When one breaks off, I have to go and get another one, made out of plastic.

However, as it turns out, there is an alternative and it is TreeButtons. TreeButtons are a sustainable alternative to other types of buttons. These buttons are made from Cherry, Birch, Oak and Maple tree branches, and they do not warp or crack. They are finished with sandpaper and are preserved with natural nut oil. Plus, these buttons are made from sustainable trees so that the environment is not threatened.

Now when a button comes off a shirt, we will replace it with TreeButtons.

I don’t know about you but I have never had a plastic button break in my entire life. I have had buttons come off, I have had rivets come out but I have seen a plastic button break. In fact, the reason buttons are made of plastic is because they are so durable. I am guessing that either Craig is very ‘hard’ on his plastic buttons or they are grasping at straws. Probably they saw the wood button alternative and tried to figure out a way to incorporate it into their blog and thus the scourge of the plastic button was born.

I am not sure what the problem was when Craig was writing the post about all natural glue. He states:

While there is a rumor that horses make glue, I have no way to really confirm this. Regardless, glue is full of chemicals and when we use it we are inhaling those chemicals. In addition, making glue then processes those chemicals, which pollutes the environment and not just our health.

A quick check of Wikipedia confirms that indeed horses have been used to make glue. In fact, the work ‘horse’ appears three lines in. What kind of confirmation is he looking for? Or, more importantly, did he even bother to look?

Craig wrote a post about ‘Tax Time‘ yet opened it with something truly strange:

Well, today I shaved most of my head to see how it would look, and it doesn’t look too bad. Of course, with the hair that came off, I tossed it outside so that this spring, the birds will have something extra with which they can make nests with. When I shave my head again in a few weeks, I will compost the hair this time as hair is a big source of nitrogen for compost and is good for the soil.

Seems like a very odd thing to do with one’s hair however I guess if you are going to pee outside putting your hair outside naturally follows.1
Now to carry on with the tax time post. I am sure that Craig must think his audience is stupid:

You do everything you need to online, you upload your return and it goes straight to Revenue Canada. In the days of identity theft, this is also a safe option versus sending it in the mail where it can be stolen.

Seriously folks online tax filing has been around for a very, very long time. Granted filing taxes electronically saves paper but the real reason it was started is because it was more efficient (less human labour involved). I also do not lose sleep over the fact that my tax return might be stolen in the mail! I am just not that important!

I have noticed some incongruities with their posts. In a post about dental floss they champion using nylon (vegan) floss over floss made from silk:

So, Layla and I will be using Eco-Dent Vegan Floss. This great floss is made from, as you guessed it, non-animal or chemical products. Instead, nylon is used and the wax comes from rice. Silk is not used because silk production sometimes uses child labor and it can be very painful for insects to have silk taken from them. The best part is that the packaging is recyclable and the product is completely biodegradable so that you can put it in your compost bin.

From what I can tell about nylon it is not biodegradable. So here is a conundrum – is it more green to use a synthetic product or a natural product that may have some issues? 2

Going ‘green’ is not as simple a process as the Bairds would have people believe. Every choice needs to be weighed and deliberated. Then there is the condescension factor present in most entries of this blog. Here is a great example:

So, from now on we will add a tag line to our e-mail signature that will urge people to go green and offer them a green tip as well. Something like “Do you need to print this e-mail? Save paper if you can!” or “Remember to put your computer in standby when not using it!”

Those little tips might be just enough to get someone to think a little bit greener in their day-to-day lives.

Are most people that unaware of the environment that we need little reminders in someone’s email signature? It is almost like Craig and Layla are the founders of a new religion and are exhibiting all the pomposity that goes along with the newly converted.

Just in case you thought Easter might get by unscathed we are given this pearl of wisdom from Lord Craig:

Fourth, don’t buy any of those small chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. There are dozens of these eggs per plastic bag and that means a lot of foil wrapping. Instead of buying those eggs, give gifts to your children that they can reuse.

Seriously though how are you supposed to have an Easter Egg hunt for children without the little foil wrapped eggs? He goes on to tell us that if we buy chocolate to make sure it is organic and fair-trade. I am not sure how green that will be.

Stay tuned for my next blog on this topic where I will attempt to take on the mammoth task of identifying all of the things that Craig and Layla have banned in their blog – including the province they now live in.

1Or at least it does if you are Craig Baird.
2 Organic is not necessarily green. In fact, some organic products use more fossil fuels than conventionally produced items. For more info check out “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Published in: on April 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm  Comments (3)  
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OMG – Who would have thought it?

I am listening to “On the Coast” and Stephen Quinn is talking to Simone List from the Better Business Bureau. Surprisingly, (note the sarcasm here) she says that products and services promote themselves as being green but they are not as green as they often claim.

I read a few green blogs. Most are very good. For example, A little Greener Everyday by Robin Shreeves is excellent. She brings a good mix of ideas and reality to her blog. I highly recommend it. The other thing Robin has going on her blog is critical thinking. She does not assume that just because something says it is green or organic that it is necessarily better for the environment.

In fact, some organic products use more fossil fuels and are worse for the environment than conventionally grown stuff. If you have not read it, I highly recommend the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. He chronicles how some organic growing operations (think the nice organic ‘field greens’ comes to mind) is kept at a constant 36 degrees Fahrenheit from the moment it is picked until it arrives at your grocery store. Now, this product may be organic but it is certainly not green.

The bottom line is that one must question what makes a product or service green and there needs to be a rigorous evaluation made.