Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't get greenwashed

What is greenwashing you ask? Greenwashing is a way of marketing or advertising a product or service as "green" or environmentally sound. If you hear the words "sustainable" or "eco-friendly" or the phrase "good for the environment" as much as I do you're probably as annoyed as I am.

Greenwashing is a large part of the gardening industry and I face it almost every day. It makes me long for an era when people grew tomatoes in their back yard because they liked to eat tomatoes. Now it's often a political statement if you grow your own vegetables. And God help you if you don't buy organic starts or the right kinds of seeds else you be banished to the politically incorrect line. But that's a different rant for a different day.

Here's the thing. When you stand at the nursery and you're pouring over all those bottles and bags of stuff that advertise themselves as "safe" and "friendly" and "good for you," take a step back and look at the shelves. Is that poison that you're about to buy actually "friendly" or are you being suckered by a bunch of sassy marketers who profit from your lack of common sense? Is that snake oil I'm buying or miracle water from the fountain of youth? Is that candy bar really going to reduce global warming and save the lemurs of Madagascar? While you're probably not buying 2 gallons of DDT you are still buying a pre-packaged product wrapped in a lot of plastic that has been placed in a truck and shipped to you using gas and labor from some warehouse in Peoria. Your Prius by the way, is still a car, and it still requires a crap load of resources to make it, ship it, sell it, and maintain it.

You can still support the economy while not being suckered or greenwashed. Buy local (I know that's an annoyingly overused term too but it actually is a good thing), use your own products when you can-(bleach, ammonia, vinegar, baking soda can go a long way), buy things in bulk, and avoid impulse purchases. You probably need that insect spray as much as you need yet another brand of shampoo promising ravishing, frizz free hair.

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