"Green" Products?

There is no such thing as a green product. Much of what the retailers and manufacturers say about their supposed eco friendly products is just so much  bull. Think about it. It’s impossible to produce anything that is truly green because every stage of the product’s life is detrimental to the environment in some way and often exploitative towards people in developing countries as well.

The product will be made from basic materials like, for example, tin… there right from the start of a products existence you have a problem, tin mining is done largely in Bolivia and Indonesia, some of the poorest countries in the world where the standard of living for the average miner is unbelievably low and their working conditions are appalling. Miners are killed in cave ins on average one a week as they have to dig deeper and deeper to reach the ores – on off shore mining, coral reefs are decimated by the sediments and waste materials coming from these mining activities and entire forests are destroyed for mining. Yet companies like Apple claim that their laptops and I Pads are the most environmentally friendly in the world.

Come on, Puh-lease. Tin is needed in solder and the thousands of solder joints in an I Pad means it contains an average of 3 grams of tin per unit. Let’s face it, an environmentally friendly computer is a total contradiction in terms because of the environmental and social damage that their mass production cause in every stage of their production. And don’t forget about when they become obsolete, which these days is very fast – then they are discarded, especially when they become damaged or stop working. Then they all get shipped off to the same or similar third world poor countries where they are dumped in massive piles and picked through by the local people to salvage gold and copper from, often burning off the plastics which release dangerously toxic chemicals into the air and leach into the water tables.

This is the state of industry at the moment and sadly there is not much chance of it changing drastically in the future. Companies make these bold outlandish claims about being eco friendly simply as a sales ploy to give them a competitive edge, it is rare that any company offers anything out of the ordinary when it comes to sustainability or environmental or social consideration because it is fundamentally incompatible with making a profit. It simply costs far too much to ensure that these considerations are taken on board.

In order for products to be in the least bit environmentally “friendly” we have to look at every stage of their design, production, distribution and ultimate disposal and recycling and this is currently beyond the scope of any one agency or government. Products are manufactured with a predetermined life expectancy and they have been designed specifically to fail or break down as close to their warranty expiration as possible. This practice has been going on since the late 1960s and it is called planned obsolescence. It was realized in the 60s that mass production of sturdy long lasting products can only result in the company’s demise as their sales fall drastically due to the demand becoming satisfied. There is a boom of sales and then it slumps, causing the company to go out of business.

So now we can see that our profit- based economy itself is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of environmental and social concern or sustainable products. In order to remain profitable and in business all companies have to include planned obsolescence into their product designs. This is a depressing state of affairs and nothing is likely to be done to stop our deteriorating environment, our dependence on oil and our exploitation of third world countries both for mining minerals cheaply and for dumping our old technology on. Those that feel that this is truly unacceptable have formed pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth and they do a great job of educating and informing people on these issues and another group that have formulated a design for a sustainable society founded on the concept of a resource based economy is The Venus Project.

Energy efficient lighting is one of the best ways to be green

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Published on  31.10.2013