Saturday, April 5, 2008

Going green

The buzz word these days is "green," in case you didn't know. "Green" used to be the color of money or spring or leprechauns, but not any more. I'm just discovering that frugal is green. We've been doing it for years, but we thought we were just saving our money.

Not so any more. Yes, you can be frugal and green, but you can be green and be anything but frugal.

I picked up a new magazine that promised to show us how to live "more lightly on the land." In it was a couple of pages of recycled goods made from a variety of throw away things like newspaper and plastic.

There was some nice stuff and some things that I thought I would like to have... but the price! Yikes. Maybe I'm just too frugal, but I wasn't enticed any further.

Now there's nothing wrong with a rug made from recycled soft drink bottles, but what's wrong with wool? The last time I saw a sheep, I really thought that wool was a renewable product and I'm pretty sure it's cheaper than the rugs I saw made with recycled plastic!

Small baskets made of recycled newspaper for fifty bucks? I don't think so.

I have no problem paying for quality products, but just because they're made of something recycled doesn't make them quality.

This is just my rant, but doesn't recycling itself take resources? And why not go for raw, renewable materials (wool, wood, cotton) and not have to replace the product every year or so? That seems "green" to me and it puts money in the pockets of tradesmen and crafters, not in some faceless corporation's green machine.


  1. Yes it seems far too many companies are trying to "cash in" on the new green trend.

  2. Better than recycling plastics and things, wouldn't it be greener to not buy them (or products in them)?

    See, I'm still ranting! :)

  3. I do like the creativity that people have, however, I agree with you.. it isn't worth the money when you can buy the 'old standby' items for much less, that are just as green.

  4. I agree with you. I think that we should try to buy products that are renewable. This "Green" phase is just that...a money-making phase that gives people the "warm & fuzzies" but really makes little impact, if any, on the environment but does put dollars in the pockets of those feeding the phase.

    Grocery stores where I live are on a campaign to save money, but it's guised as a "green" program. They sell fabric bags, which are small, so that you have to buy many of them. You get 5 cents off your bill if you re-use them in future trips. They don't want to pay for the paper or plastic bags any more, and it will save them millions of dollars to convert people. This is not the first time that they've tried this program.

    In the early 90's I did some research on recycled paper for the corporation that I worked for. They wanted to be able to add "green" to their image. What I found was that not only was the recycled product inferior, but that it cost more and harmed the environment more to put through the recycling process. But people get "warm & fuzzies" and still buy the recycled paper products because they don't know how bad it is for the environment.

  5. Dawn, I think the "old standbys" are often greener, but of course, it depends on how they're handled.

    Cornwoman, I think an educational program is in order for the general public. I wish people would think before they plunk down their money, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place.

  6. Because these items (plastic bottles, etc.) are going to waste if they don't get used. But definitely it is better to reduce our use of plastic bottles in the first place.

    cornwoman - Grocery stores where I live are also doing the same thing. Many of the bags are quite large though. However, you can just bring your own bags instead of buying theirs -- you still get the discount. I am in favour of these programs. Reusable is better for the planet than disposable. I bring my own homemade bags every time I go shopping. I also use them in drugstores, bakeries, the farmer's market, etc.

  7. "Because these items (plastic bottles, etc.) are going to waste if they don't get used. But definitely it is better to reduce our use of plastic bottles in the first place."

    Just because they're already there doesn't necessarily mean it's better to reuse them. Creating carpeting from plastic bottles creates a whole new set of problems, not the least of which is pollution, electricity and water use in the remanufacturing. Then what do you do with the rug when it eventually wears out? Most of them will go to the landfill anyway. Far better to spend the money involved in education and in creating/providing better packaging materials in the first place.

    Just my opinion. :)

  8. hi, i had some comments on your statements of natural items.

    cotton is extremely damaging to the planet through the heavy use of pesticides used by the factory farms growing most of the cotton we wear (sadly, no farmer Joe any longer). organic cotton is a great fabric but the cost is still too high to be comparable to pesticide grown cotton. hemp is a wonderful solution for our pesticide dependent cotton, but due to an errounous connection with cannabis, it is illegal to grow in the US.

    wool I love and would love to buy lots of. however, wool is very expensive and any affordable "wool" sweater usually has a lot of man-made material mixed with it.

    and with wood, I agree, I like wood products. but unless it comes from a quick growing tree, wood products are actually damaging to the environment as once the tree is cut down, it takes decades (even centuries) for the tree to grow back. bamboo is a totally environmentally safe natural material that is perfect for furniture and even fabric.

    now with recycled materials, if the bottles are recycled, that actually takes less energy and heat to melt down already produced plastic than to create the stuff brand new. and while yes, it uses energy and fossil fuels to melt down the plastic and make something out of it, if you were to make your rug out of cotton instead, that cotton has to use the same electricity, fossil fuels in transportation and other costs to be made into a product. so why not buy something made from a recycled product that would never decompose in the landfill otherwise?

    i know recycled items made into new things are pricey, but along with renewed interest in recycled items comes cheaper productions modes and therefore cheaper costs.

    (a side note, if you saw baskets made out of recycled newspapers, they may have been Fair Trade goods made in developing countries so the high costs were to help those workers in their home countries)

  9. anonymous, organic anything is high in comparison to pesticide, herbicide ridden products. I haven't found organic cotton to be any more so. As far as wood goes, at least it grows back, which is more than oil, which plastic is made from, can do.

    The way to deal with plastic bottles is not to recreate something from them, thus pouring yet more poisons into our world, but to eliminate them as much as possible. How many plastic containers do you buy in a month's time?

    Just one more thing about a cotton rug... when you're through with it, you can compost it. Try that with a plastic one. :)

    I appreciate your comments, all of you.