Saving the Earth on someone else’s dime

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone talks about “saving the Earth” and “going green”, but all too often their actions entail obligations or expense for everyone else. They take the bows while you pay the bills.

Case in point: Many businesses crow about how they are “going paperless” to save the planet. Well, that’s nice, but it often means that they will no longer send you a statement of your account or your transactions except by email. So if you need a paper copy for your records, you have to use your paper and your printer to do so. They get the credit for “going green” and you get the extra expense and trouble. Of course, you don’t have to have a paper record. You can trust your vital information to their electronic files and hope that a hard drive crash, hacker, or power failure doesn’t destroy then, but not everyone’s level of trust is that high.

Or how about this: My wife recently bought several shirts as an early Christmas present at a well-known retail chain store. Since it was a present, she asked for a box, a practice that has been routine for years.

“We don’t provide boxes anymore,” she was told. “We’re 100% green.”

So unless people start giving gifts in paper bags, they will have to provide their own boxes. The customer gets the expense, the store gets to crow and feel self-righteous about saving the Earth, and the total number of cardboard boxes in the world remains unchanged.

By the way, each shirt was packaged in plastic with cardboard backing, tissue paper and steel pins. That seems like a bit less than 100% green.

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