The Beige Report: Greenwashing Makes Us Feel Dirty

ColumnGreen marketers want us to believe in their products while hiding their dirty laundry.

To listen to the marketers, it’s a brave new green world of products out there. But greenwash is greenwash and Burmese teak is bad news no matter how you slice it. A gas hog SUV is still a planetary parasite even with a hybrid emblem. And some of the so-called sustainable successes are merely bad ideas passed off as alternative chic.

We pulled a handful of products for you to take a closer look at.

Curtain Call

Many are pondering the utility of the Energy Curtain,the solar-powered alternative to the window blind. It is designed to store energy all day to switch off lights at night. But since it has to be drawn all day to charge up, you have to turn on lights inside to get the electric glow when it goes dark. Maybe it’s best to use natural light during the day, and as little power as possible at night.

Less Packaging, Higher Price

Touted for 24% less packaging and more concentrated powder for smaller scoops, the new Ultra Tide simply doesn’t do the trick, according to users who say it’s the same chemically enhanced powder as the old one except they shrunk the box and raised the price. Boxes that are bite-sized are great, but it’s still the same harsh formula for fighting stains. In other words, it gets under your skin in a bad way.

Green Thumbs Down

For those desperately in need of seeing green in their cubicle, the USB powered Mini Greenhouse from DreamCheeky has arrived, letting you grow your own marigolds with the artificial soil and seeds provided. Fresh, faux or freaky? As Mainstreet points out, the so-called good green system calls for a PC with Intel Pentium 4 operating at 2.4 gigahertz or faster, at least 128 megabytes of RAM, a Windows compatible soundcard, a CD-ROM drive, plus a specific type of display adapter capable of Microsoft Windows XP. Yes, installed on your Windows PC, you can monitor nature at work (sans the sunlight). Really?



It’s A Wash

The Swiffer Vac mopping system may appeal to us slobs who are looking for a quick clean-up in our dirty nests, but the non biodegradable, plastic cleaning mop isn’t actually greener than the old tools, despite claims of saving gallons of hot water. Instead of the precious water, this nifty gadget uses single-use chemically-soaked cleaning wipes destined for the landfill heap. We love all the green (color) branding that tries to distract you into thinking Swiffer is really eco-friendly.


Teaked Off

You hear the floor or trays are teak and you are certain that means eco-friendly – from certified plantations, right? But when it comes to Burmese teak, logs yielding as much as $25,000 are stolen from ravaged forests and shipped to Japan, the U.S and Europe and turned into nice patio furniture. Over 24.7 million cubic feet of teak is taken from the Myanmar’s forests by Thai companies helping to finance the Burmese military government’s long border war against ethnic insurgents. While many floor companies are shunning the teak, you can still harvest it online through many sources.

Images: Torely; Cushnie et Ochs‘; DreamCheeky; Procter &  Gamble; Chevrolet; Procter & Gamble; Perpetual Kid; Teakworks4U, redwood1

Editor’s note: The Beige Report is an open EcoSalon team column showcasing the most ridiculous in green design and marketing greenwash. Buyer beware.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.