In recent years, it’s become something of a trend for consumers to buy the “greener” choice. These days, there are a whole lot of products labeled “biodegradable” and “environmentally-friendly”. Everyone from automobile companies to clothing companies to junk food companies (think Sun Chips) have jumped on board the metaphorical greenmobile (obviously, it’s an electric car. Or maybe a hydrogen-burning mobile?). After all, green is the black.
And not only is green trendy, it generates profits. Take a look at this video of Walmart Corporate Affairs EVP Leslie Dach talking about how going green was good for their bottom line because they were able to work with their manufacturers to save during the production stage and subsequently pass on some of those savings to Walmart customers. They’re not alone; many other companies, like Unilever, have discovered the same thing.(Strange though, how green products are, in many cases, more expensive than their non-green evil twins, but that’s an issue for another blog post.)
Going green may be good and well for the companies involved, but this now creates a bit of a dilemma for your average consumer: How are we to navigate through the mountains of supposedly “green” products to find the truly good?
In July of 2009, Walmart announced a green rating program initiative for the products it sells. The program was to be an extensive research and rating program, covering any and all products it has on its shelves. It is now 2012 and there has been no sign of this initiative. Why? Mainly because Walmart was a little too ambitious in creating this program. As CNN’s Paul Keegan explains, the problem lies within the fact that a product will still have an impact on the environment, no matter how little. Besides which, how do you rate how bad that impact is? Should carbon emissions be weighted more heavily than waste generated in production? Or is perhaps methane gas emission worse? Problems with the rating system aside, there is also the issue of the kind of bad publicity for the company that is unfortunately labelled as not green. Who would offer up their numbers on emissions if they knew they were going to be hit with an environmental scarlet letter? Certainly not Apple, which is why they quietly withdrew themselves from the EPEAT product registry.
While this green movement will likely have At the end of the day, there really is no way to say definitively which company is greener (or greenest) or which index is right in the way they rate products’ green-ness. Consumers will have to come to their own conclusions when buying green products.
(note: I know this post is kinda really bad, but the idea is there… and I know I really need help. Please be mean. I sometimes find that it’s the most constructive kind of criticism. Thanks!)