What Does Green Mean?
Perhaps you’ve seen it…the section on our website called “Eco-Awareness”? In essence, it is our interpretation of what it means for Acrilex to be a “Green” or greener supplier of plastics.
If you’re like me, you might be a little confused about what it means to be green, and I’m one of the people involved in the actual “greening” of our company. So if I’m confused, what hope is there for everyone out there? On second thought, it’s not such a challenge to confuse me.
In our Eco-Awareness section, we talk about the energy-saving methods in place at our factory, and recycling initiatives for our waste products. Now with the introduction of our Acriglas Minerals series and Ecoglas Environmental Acrylic sheets, we also have several product offerings which take advantage of the ability to incorporate post-industrial scrap materials into our decorative acrylic sheets. I feel satisfied that we have joined the ranks of responsible companies in the green-stream. But is that what it means to be Green?
I’ve been asked, “Is Acriglas bio-degradable?” The answer is no. I’ve also been asked, “Is Acriglas recyclable?”, and the answer to that question is yes…but by processors overseas who recycle post industrial acrylic scrap. This raises the shipping issue, which gets into “carbon footprint”. These are the questions asked in regard to the products we manufacture, the other questions are related to the products we distribute. Suddenly, where our suppliers are located in geographic distance from our warehouses, and whether a bio-plastic product like Natureworks PLA needs to ship in a refrigerated truck and be stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse become “issues” for discussion in the world of Green. Whether a product has 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent or more recycled content is now relevent, but what answer is the right answer to be Green enough?
My head starts to spin, from the marketing pitches that tout the environmental advantages of particular products, and the backlash from manufacturers who are quick to point out that their competitors “Green products” don’t fit nicely in the Green world because they aren’t this, that, or the other thing.
Is ‘Greenguard” or “Leeds” certification the best way to determine whether or not something is Green?? Maybe in our rush to save the planet, we have completely lost the real meaning of environmental responsibility, and Green manufacturing. Products are submitted for certification (a process that a manufacturer has to be willing to pay for, and the certification is the marketing tool to be purchased), and often times it is only the information relevant for achieving a “Green” stamp of approval that is volunteered. The arguments against the benefit of a particular product are often left ignored, or even squashed. So can a certification really be trusted? Should specifiers just use products that have a certification to cover their behinds on the issue, even if the designations lack real teeth?
I don’t know…I may be a cynic, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Personally, I really believe the Green Movement has lost it’s way, and is busy being distracted by the over-selling of virtually everything as environmentally responsible. So now there are “Green Police”, who decide whether a product is really green, or just said to be green. If you make the claim to be environmentally responsible, you better be able to back it up…or at least have really, really good green marketing tools to make it look that way, or the “Green Police” will bust you.
So again I ask you…what does Green mean? I want your opinions! Is it:
a) Reduced carbon footprint in manufacturing?
b) Close proximity from production to end-user?
c) Products manufactured with whatever percentage of recycled content is deemed green enough?
d) Products which are recycleable?
e) Products which are bio-degradable?
f) Products which are blessed with a “Greenguard” seal of approval?
g) Products made from bio resources rather than petroleum?
h) Products made from other “renewable” resources?
i) Non-green products which are made by companies that use green principles of manufacturing like wind, solar, etc.?
My last question to you all is … does affordability factor into this equation? Is the world really ready to pay the higher prices associated with “Green products” and “Green technologies”? As an environmentalist, I really hope so, but as a pragmatist, the lagging sales of the products bearing the eco-friendly banners, and lack-luster response from customers when they hear the price tags for the new designer greens, suggests not. It seems to me one of the benefits of a good economy is also the ability to take the righteous path, or moral high ground, but when times are tough and competition is fierce, paying more green to be Green is not such a priority.