Don’t Be Green Just to Be Cool

“Plug in a light bulb and save a life! Upload this Facebook application and help preserve a forest in Botswana!”

Sound familiar? It should, because every time you turn on your television, computer or cell phone, the screens blaze with ne and popular ways to “go green.”

And although the world has excitedly hopped on this “green train,” no one has succeeded to find a legitimate reason as to why exactly they have hopped.

Being environmentally friendly has become a fad, and people are making decisions based on publicity stunts rather than their morals and values. But although our intentions are good, and some of our ploys are in fact beneficial, most of the green scene is nothing but a green scheme.

The idea of global warming is horrible and everyone is instinctively afraid of such a disaster. Therefore, when a company offers to reduce the looming climate change, only an idiot could possibly object. But motives seem to prove otherwise.

Whole Foods, a popular Los Altos lunch spot, is one of the leading providers of organic goods. Their mission statement states that they “believe in a virtuous circle entwining the food chain, human beings and Mother Earth: Each is reliant upon the others through a beautiful and delicate symbiosis.”

On the surface, Whole Foods’ mission and product quality seem to be excellent compared to your ordinary Safeway. But organically grown foods may not always be the environmentally smart choice.

A student living in Los Altos can choose between ordinary, farm-grown tomatoes or organic ones grown in Chile. Of course, the California tomatoes will be cheaper and fresher, having traveled a fraction of the distance.

But we still believe that organic foods are better for the world, because they are pesticide free. But in terms of wasted energy, there’s no contest. Those organic Chilean tomatoes are shipped via plane across 5,000 miles, burning jet fuel along the way. And that’s not including the shipping materials.

After knowing this, would a Los Altan still choose the organic tomato?

It’s not a tough decision. You would be smart to choose Californian, especially if you prefer driving by fields of tomatoes instead of fields of apartments when you tour our state. And many producers that promise the same “green” safety are giving the same “brown” results as the Chilean tomatoes.

In a study done recently by TerraChoice, an Environmental Marketing research group, out of 1,018 common consumer products that were tested, from toothpaste to shampoo to printer, 99 percent were guilty of at least one environment-related advertising flaw.

TerraChoice concluded that 30 percent of “organic” guarantee stickers are uncertified. They additionally observed the use of hazardous substances, such as pesticides and other chemical poisons, in the creation of goods that were advertised as 100 percent natural.

And an astonishing 57 percent of “energy efficient” electronics were found to contain hazardous materials. And if that’s not enough of a turn-off, they’re more expensive. According to Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group, organic products are sometimes 70 to 100 times more expensive than conventional goods.

“Most companies are taking advantage of the celebrity support to make a profit—not because they are contributing to some greater good or feel a responsibility to do so,” Cohen told ABC News.

In essence, “organic” and “green” are successful advertising catchphrases, gathering more business for places like Whole Foods. After all, what makes easier money than putting a price on morals?

But are we, as consumers, protecting our future, or are we buying into another fad that is less real than Cher’s nose? And if so, then how soon will it go out of style?

Sooner or later, we might have the ability to see through their schemes, but until then, there is money to be made from our green-tinted lifestyles. So before you go green, reconsider your motives and hold onto your green a little tighter.