Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 16, 2009
Whenever we buy just about anything we have typically justified the purchase in our minds by some means or another. We buy food because we like the taste of a particular product or it was the lowest price. Marketers have long know about this fact and have often tried to be helpful in allowing us to justify buying their particular product by saying their product is helpful, cool, allow you to save time or what ever angle they can come up with. What’s been different on this front lately is the fact that everyone seems to be ‘green washing’ their products to highlight their environmentally friendly qualities.
A classic example can be found in my latest technology obsession, an ebook reader. I found this post over at the New York Times that points out a study that shows an ebook reader will likely emit less greenhouse gases than the a certain number of real books. So people are feeding my obsession and saying I could buy their product and save the world all at the same time. How convenient?
Yet at the end of the New York Times post they point out the obvious: if you use the library you would likely already cutting down on your carbon footprint from reading books. So hence buying an ebook reader is questionable again, at least for how ‘green’ it is.
Which is really the point of this post: buying something because it is ‘green’ is often misguided justification supplied by marketing people. It’s not always, but often it is. So don’t worry about how ‘green’ everything in your house is or not.
Just use your common sense after reading the product label mostly truly green products like to use numbers or specific information to prove how green the product is while ‘green washed’ products tend to use empty phrases like ‘less chemicals’ or ‘less energy’ with no information to support the claim. Use your head and you likely will be fine and then you can justify your purchase on those old methods of price and quality.