It took Earth Day for me to realize just how many companies are hopping on the green band wagon, but maybe not really meaning it.
It's called green washing. Companies say they're doing something green to make consumers buy more, but often it's a largely meaningless effort (like donated 1 cent from every huge purchase to a green group) or a move done purely to save cash (like using a little less plastic in water bottles.)
It's a bit disheartening.
But some folks are doing the real deal for the right reasons. Like the owners of Plainfield's Salazar Packaging and the owners of the LEED-certified restaurant in Joliet. Frankly, I don't think the tree-huggers are rushing into that Denny's, meaning the decision was made for the right reason. Which makes me want to go order chicken strips.
That said, don't be disheartened when you see fake green.
When your co-worker says she only eats organic because regular food is poison, but then she chain smokes, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume organic food isn't worth it.
When a show on Planet Green shows a rich homeowner patting themselves on the back for buying a $15,000 room-sized shower that uses 28 low-flow showerheads, don't say to yourself, "That's wasteful. What's the point?" Instead, realize that guy is a tool, that Planet Green shouldn't be praising what he is doing and that you can still make a difference by putting a low-flow showerhead in your two bathrooms. (Or one bathroom, if you're like me.)
So when I finally sucked it up and converted to online bill pay this month, it mattered. It saved carbon from postal vehicles and paper from trees and checks. When I signed up for e-mailed bank statements, it saved carbon and paper, and my bank sent $2 to the Conservation Foundation.
What you do matters because there are tens of thousands, if not more, people having the same doubts about the same green actions. With luck, every one of them will decide to proceed the way their heart tells them, though it's a cliche: to reduce, reuse and recycle.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."