published Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

A lot of ‘green’ to ‘go green’

Environmental activists claim that all manner of “green” practices and products are not only good for the environment but are financially smart, too. They imply there are only benefits and no costs to “going green.”

Of course, many conservation efforts are sensible, and some are economical as well. But many other environmental initiatives are expensive and impractical.

Solar and wind power, as well as ethanol, would not need massive taxpayer subsidies if they were truly cost-competitive. Consumers would flock to them as a way to save money.

But it is only through big federal subsidies that those types of energy can be made to seem cost-effective.

Many other “environmentally friendly” products are not economical, either, The New York Times reported recently.

Sales of some “green” household cleaners, for instance, have plunged by tens of millions of dollars a few years after they were introduced to much fanfare. The trouble is, many of those products are far more costly than the less environmentally oriented products they were supposed to replace.

A bottle of one environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner, for instance, costs 40 cents more than a bottle of regular cleaner.

As if that were not disincentive enough, consumers have found that some “green” cleaning products — such as detergents for automatic dishwashers — just don’t work as well as ordinary cleaners do. Well over a dozen states forced makers of those detergents to change their formulas so the detergents would be better for the environment. But ironically, because the new detergents don’t work as well, some consumers wash their dishes by hand as well as in the dishwasher — using more water and soap. That certainly doesn’t help the environment.

Conservation is a worthy goal. But it does no good to impose environmental policies with no regard for costs and common sense.

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ldhan said...

Your regard for "costs and common sense" is rather limited and short sighted. One needs to take into consideration the cost accounting of full life cycle of many of these green and not so green products while comparing them. You cannot choose to ignore the many other costs, which ultimately are directly borne by the public anyway, and only focus on the "green" out of your pocket at the very last step. Your well being and those of others should be in your consideration, among many other factors. Until you can manage to think more broadly and bring more substance to the table, your piece remains mediocre words play at best, worthy opinion, definitely not, and it does not take an "activist" to recognize that.

May 24, 2011 at 8:38 a.m.
ldhan said...

This atrocity is a direct result of only focusing on the "green" mentality. A "go green" effort should also include environmental policies which insures responsible production process. It cannot be left to the market alone which is obviously not working. This problem spans across our entire economy and it is not unique to the production of alternative energy. It must be considered while making any policies at the government level, and we should all be aware of it as individuals when we carry on with our day to day activities. How we can better the process would be a much worthy discussion. Thanks Sailorman.

May 24, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
nucanuck said...

I continue to be impressed with the breadth and depth of "green" efforts in my new city/home. Somehow, the broad consensus is toward cooperation in everything possible at the individual green level.

Very little goes into the household garbage. Packaging, even foam products, gets separated...light bulbs, batteries, electronic gear, plastic bags...all have depositories. Food composting seems to be the norm. Yard waste is either composted or segregated for community composting.

Most people seem to try hard to find a secondary use, or user, for things they wish to discard. Otherwise they will have to pay to get rid of things.

The overall process seems to slow down consumption to some degree.

Probably the biggest immediate benefit is the positive feeling of a community working together toward common goals. That helps set a tone that permeates throughout the life of the community.

Prety cool, really.

May 24, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.
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