Sunday, October 26, 2008

"green" products for a consumer society

I saw some interesting products on our Plastic is Forever Google ads* today (right of the posts). And they got me thinking about eco-friendly products. First I saw the Biobag-biodegrabale waste bags made from corn. I have a friend who uses these and likes them. I stick to paper bags that I get at the store (i.e. reduce and reuse). Whenever I get low I just don't bring my own canvas bag to Whole Foods and re-stalk up on paper bags for my trash. This is the cheap option. The Biobag is a nice alternative though. Both paper and corn are biodegradable and even though they will end up in a landfill and probably won't biodegrade for a very long time they are both better than plastic that will never biodegrade. Then I saw the ad for the Plastic Bag Dryer by Greenfeet. This made me smile :). Wow, how about paying $18 for a plastic bag dryer? Don't get me wrong drying your own bags is great. I dry out my plastic bags and reuse them endlessly...and my mom has done this for over 20 years...but we have managed to do this (and do it well) without a specific device. Okay, so yes I have to admit I was tempted to buy it. It is made out of wood (!) and it is "nifty". I can see it on my counter. But I'm going to stick to what I got, which is amazingly similar (a bunch of wooden spoons in a cup) and what I've got is free. If though this little modern marvel will get more people to reuse all sorts of plastic bags I say-yeah! But keep in mind you can do this on your own like me. Lastly, I came across a product that just kind of made me was on the NPR website under 'Green Gifts' marketed as a 'gardener's gift set'! What is green about all this plastic? If you love the earth and love to garden you should be very weary of plastic. We need to start narrowing the definition of "green". Too many things are being touted as green. Green is just a catch phrase these days. One of the main criteria for green in my book is: little to no plastic is involved. There are still so few people aware of the menace of plastic and how un-green plastic is. We need to change this. Tell someone today! Spread the word.

*Let me remind you Kerry and I have no control over these ads. So some of the ads are for products that are the antithesis of what we stand for, but some aren't obviously.


Anonymous said...

This is why I decided against Google Ads on my site. You can't control them. I wanted to be able to choose ads for companies or organizations that are actually working to help the environment, not create more plastic waste.

The Green Perspective said...

I agree with your post with the caveat that we will likely not, nor should we, try to stop consumerism but instead we should focus on making the products that will almost inevitably be bought by our society better, with less plastic packaging and useless stuff. We will probably not in the near term change the consumerism that is such a part of our culture, and I am not so sure it is up to us to tell people what to do...I perceive this as one of the problems of the environmental movement (and urban planning, another scene I am very familiar with)...most environmentalists are always preaching to the already-converted. Instead, we should be trying to make the tent of environmentalists bigger and grow the number of people who self-identify as environmentalists. For better or worse I feel the way to do that is to better align the environmental movement with people's self interest. Then we make the stuff they buy better, packaged with less plastic etc. and we have a much bigger, better and greener impact. It is a dilution of the environmental ideal in the interest of growing the movement. what do you think?

In candor I own an online retail company selling green products so I have my bias obviously, but our whole concept is based on the idea of providing useful green items with no excess packaging instead of useless stuff wrapped in plastic.

Todd B

plasticfreela said...

Green perspective,
I agree completely. It is not about preaching to the choir, it is about taking the show on the road (or making the tent bigger)! Sometimes I find this really hard and discouraging (especially on an instructional level) but also it can br really rewarding (on an individual level) when I hear people I know tell me they are making different choices and changes in their lives because of things I have said and done. Example: a friend made some homemade soup she wanted to share with me the other day and she gave it to me in a reused glass container because she knows I don't use plastic. A small change but a change none-the-less. Plus she told me she is making other changes. Institutional changes will take time and a ground swell from us the consumers. So we need to make our voiced heard in a collective! Nice to hear from a like minded individual.

plasticfreenyc said...

i always think about that with Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." here's an inconvenient truth for you-- selling a dvd encased in plastic and wrapped in plastic is ng, no good!