I recently listened to a Freakonomics podcast that draws attention to the relatively new issue of "bad environmentalism." They refer to the practice of companies and individuals that frequently use phrases like "eco-friendly" and "green" as a means to sell a product. The big example used in the piece is that of bamboo flooring, which has recently received the approval of the LEED building program as a green material. The fact of the matter is that the only thing green about bamboo is that it has a rapid renewal time. Many of the same issues with traditional timber still apply to it, such as land clearing, pesticide use, and impacts from shipping the material. There are plenty of sustainably produced timber products that have less of an impact on our environment than the bamboo operations.
As a consumer it is very difficult to be fully informed on the life-cycle footprint of a product so we should all be wary when we hear a sales pitch from someone that has an obvious personal interest in the matter. In defense of the people selling "green" products, they themselves are probably not informed on the entire life-cycle analysis of their product either.
On a positive note, it's great that a product's environmental rating has become a selling point for consumers in our country. I don't think that would have been the case a few decades ago.
Scientist, photographer, and outdoor athlete based in Denver, Colorado. This blog is a place to share science-related news and ideas that I find interesting.