Green? I don't think so.

I'm not green. Sure, I eat seasonal local food. We barely produce trash. I take the bus and we are hard pressed to turn on the heater. But I still go to the dry cleaners. I know. I'm going to hell.

But if I were a business I could call myself green on the mere fact that I buy local when possible. Once a year I could buy lettuce from Marin Roots Farm and my greeness would be qualified. You could pull up a chair in my restaurant, read the blurb on the front of the menu: locally and organically sourced when possible. And then you could turn your brain off. I have.

It won't matter that it's November and there's asparagus on the menu or an heirloom tomato salad. Peaches for dessert? Terrific. Locally sourced will be lodged securely in your brain such that you won't give the season a second thought. It won't matter if your leftover foreign and industrial food is packaged in a styrofoam container with a handy plastic bag to carry it home in. It won't matter that you are sitting outside under a propane powered heater; the front of the menu clearly states in capital gold letters that this is a green business. Everything is cool. Make that green.

I can't tell you how many times I fool myself or how many times I'm fooled by the green spin.

My corner grocery advertises their Greeness on their website. Maybe they qualify themselves by the fact that the lettuce they sell is in 25% less plastic than the roasted chickens. The webiste lists a dozen ways to reuse a paper bag. But they bag groceries in plastic. I'm missing the green.

Perhaps I should celebrate that there's great market potential for being green. Perhaps I should be optimistic that we're moving in the right direction. Some days I am. But other days it seems like brandishing about the buzz words - green, local or organic is just another way to dumb us down and make a sale.

Thank goodness you can't fool all the people all of the time though or however that saying goes.

4 comments:

Chile said...

I don't understand. You mean that one good action doesn't cancel out all the other bad choices? Man, you are not very forgiving, are you?

LOL! You're right about "green" businesses. Watch what they do, not what they say.

Green Bean said...

I know what you mean. I'm always suprised when a menu says local and then you see something completely out of season. It is a starting point but we need to keep our eyes open and our mouths moving, don't we.

kathryn said...

A local furniture business has started spruiking the green-ness of it's products. They don't talk about recycling timber. Or supporting sustainable timber industries. No, their focus is that timber is of itself "green" - because it's made of carbon.

Yes the growing tree captures carbon, holding it in the trunk and branches, a natural carbon sink. And yes if you cut down the tree and don't burn the wood that carbon stays in there.

But to claim green-ness based on this fact alone, without looking at where the wood comes from, the sustainability of the resource, what happens to the native landscape when it's cut down - well that strikes me as being quite dishonest and misleading.

kale for sale said...

chile - Thank you for summing up so succinctly in your last sentence what I was trying to say in a full post. Yeah. What she said!

green bean - ... keep our mouths moving, as you said, and our blogs posting too.

kathryn - That's it exactly. A very small piece of the whole is being blown out of proportion to appear green or sustainable or whatever and like you're doing we've got to keep looking at the whole picture. And what a big beautiful whole picture it is. And there are challenges. It's nice to hear from you.