But while riding those subways (which are largely, at least in NYC, responsible for why the average person's carbon footprint is so low) it struck me that green is becoming mainstream so quickly, it's becoming many things to many different people. And often, because the message isn't defined, it gets lost.
It happens in the definition of a "green building:" really, does LEED make a building green? What about a regular building that uses Energy Star appliances and PVC-free paint.... that's in the middle of nowhere?
It happens in materials: FSC wood... is it really green to use South American or European wood, ship it to Asia to be milled and ship it back to use in your Seattle home?
And in happens in advertisements. Take the subway in NYC for example. On one train, overhead signs urged riders to recycle newspapers in recycling bins. On another, overhead signs begged newspaper readers to just throw their papers away to keep the subway clean. If you're going to advocate one message, which is more important? Recycling or cleanliness?
That example represents the entire green movement. There are so many different messages out there, it's easy to get lost. Especially if you're a new "convert," it's really easy to be misled. Sometimes it's intentional "greenwashing," sometimes it's just plain confusing.
For Earth Day this year, I got a press release from Horizon Air about how flying between Portland and Seattle was more eco-friendly than driving. I got another from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Lexus Hybrid Living on eco-friendly luxury suites in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., that are "the ultimate cosmopolitan experience for environmentally aware travelers." Guests get organic towels, robes and free use of the Lexus LS 600h hybrid.
Is that really green? Who's to say. The truth is it's such a new field and word that just about anything can be spun the right way. And often, what really is "green" just gets lost in the spinning.
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