Looking at Green Through Rose Colored Glasses

Is there a product on the market that isn’t declaring its greenness? Is “natural” necessarily better? After all, the Black Plague was a gift from Mother Nature.

In my last blog post Shirley Bovshow and I were at the LA Go Green Expo. We found only a handful of garden-related services and products, a whole bunch of expected things like photovoltaic panels to take you off the grid, plug-in cars and hi-tech whole-house water systems, like the one Ed Begley Jr. endorses. We also saw more than a few booths that spiked the needle of my BS detector into the red zone.

More on that in a minute.

Hollywood Goes Green

Ed Begley Jr.
Mr. Begley’s keynote was the reason Shirley and I attended on Saturday. Ed is not only a respected actor in television and film, but more important for all of us, he lends his sincere and authoritative voice to raising awareness of the benefits of green living.

His Living With Ed show on the Planet Green TV network, and new book, Guide to Sustainable Living, demystify an ever-expanding range of sustainable living practices, from rainwater harvesting to gray-water systems to wind and solar technology for the home.

What was so refreshing about Begley’s funny and fact-filled talk was the total absence of the typical You’re-Not-Doing-Enough guilt trip. Ed and I agree on this: Start from where you are now and try to do everything a little smarter and gentler.
If all you can afford right now is murdering a few square feet of lawn and replace it with a fruit tree, go for it. That’s better.

Ed, motivated in the 70s by his starving actor status, took 10 years to save up for a solar water heating system and another 15 to switch to solar electricity generation. If you need a crash course in greening your life and enjoying the trip, you can’t do much better than checking out Ed’s TV and book offerings at his Living With Ed website.

What’s So Green About That?

I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to get my brain around the word green. Who’s to say if a product or service is “eco-friendly” or not?

Here’s my take...

A lot of the exhibitors were inarguably green—residential-scale solar and wind powered electricity, electric vehicles, home energy audit consultants, suburban farming systems—you get the idea. And let’s not forget the ubiquitous 100%-recycled-material, biodegradable, hi-fiber, lo-fat, geo-thermal, not-tested-on-animals grocery bag. Every bit helps.

EcoFly Toothbrush
Back to my BS detector: What do you make of the vendor selling the “rapping, recyclable, eco-friendly toothbrush for kids” or the folks promising to relieve the symptoms of “low energy and stress” with ki energy. Even if getting my ki recalibrated did something tangible, someone please explain to me how—and I’m not making this up—a palm reader “using Indian Vedic Predictive & Holistic sciences to help, heal and unlock peoples’ paths to success” will help end our dependence of fossil fuels.

Truth be told, this stuff only increases the amount of methane in the atmosphere.

We’re past the days when wearing tie-dye was your cool green credential. As with any eco-claim, a whopping dollop of cynicism is recommended as we strive for more sustainable ways of living. Don’t just buy a product because of its name:—no fewer than 50 of the 300 exhibitors at the Expo had “green”,  “eco” or “earth” in their name. Calling your product Eco-Green DDT doesn’t make it okay.

I am encouraged that the Go Green Expo, with events around the country, and similar shows bring innovative, exciting products and services to consumers. My hope is that awareness and demand increase and that good ole American capitalism continues to meet our high expectations.

In the meantime, kick the tires and scratch your head for a spell before yanking out the gold card.

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