From the New York Times article on Home Depot’s Eco Options Marketing campaign:
…Plastic-handled paint brushes were touted as nature-friendly because they were not made of wood. Wood-handled paint brushes were promoted as better for the planet because they were not made of plastic.
An electric chainsaw? Green, because it was not gas-powered. A bug zapper? Ditto, because it was not a poisonous spray. Manufacturers of paint thinners, electrical screwdrivers and interior overhead lights claimed similar bragging rights simply because their plastic or cardboard packaging was recyclable…
… “Everybody is in a mad scramble to say how green they are,” said Jim O’Donnell, manager of the Sierra Club Stock Fund, which handles $50 million in a portfolio of companies it considers environmentally friendly. He added that he was hopeful the product greening would become more meaningful over time.
One reason for the scramble is that there are few verifiable or certified standards to substantiate claims. Crest has introduced a toothpaste containing green tea extract and natural mint, sold under the “Nature’s Expressions” label, even though it contains artificial ingredients like most toothpastes. Raid sells a wasp and hornet killer in a green can marked “Green Options” with “Natural Clove Scent.”
“You almost have to be a scientist with a lab to decipher the dizzying array of claims,” said Robyn Griggs Lawrence, editor in chief for Natural Home magazine. “It’s hard to get information on what makes a product green…”
And that’s why, for the purposes of the No Impact experiment, rather than being overwhelmed with consumer decisions, we made just one: don’t buy anything new (though we can buy new underwear and socks and other things second hand). We follow, as closely as we can, the rules of the original San Francisco Compact group. It's not a perfect solution, and it may sound like deprivation, but it actually makes life easier than driving myself nuts trying to sort the enviro from the enviro-spin.
Image courtesy of Chicken Smith.