The Greenwash Brigade

Bah Humbug to green(washed) Christmas gifts

Jim Nicolow Dec 22, 2009

As we take stock of the state of greenwash this holiday season, I thought it would be interesting to look at gift giving. We’re bombarded daily with superfluous products which have somehow been recast as ‘green’. Isn’t a “green gadget” an oxymoron? And during the holidays, useless but green “makes a great gift!” I thought I would close out the year by sharing some of my most egregious green(wash) gift favorites:

  • Bamboo iPhone Case – You don’t really need a wood box for your iPhone, so how about a ‘true bamboo’ green box for your iPhone?

Solar-Powered Sunglasses – This way, when you lose your sunglasses you’re losing a solar power plant, too.
Fuel Cell Phone Charger – Talk about using a chainsaw to cut butter: how about a $275 fuel cell to charge your cell phone? Each $30 disposable cartridge of methanol provides enough juice for 6 charges. It would be greener to recharge your phone with an idling Hummer’s cigarette lighter.

Solar Insect Theatre – A lighted wood box to attract bugs? You could put it next to your porch light to provide a diversity of habitats. That seems kind of silly and wasteful. Oh, wait, it’s made with FSC-certified wood and the light is solar powered. How green.
Organic Batter Blaster – Like fluffy organic pancakes but hate to stir ingredients? Then this pancake-in-a-disposable-can is for you. It’s ORGANIC!
Solar-Powered Grass – Hey, isn’t all grass solar powered? No, THIS grass glows in the dark via energy-efficient LED’s. Man, that’s double green!

Among our consumer habits, gift giving tends to be both more public and more aspirational: we’re making purchases for someone else. Deloitte’s 2009 Annual Holiday Survey (opens PDF) found that 47% of consumers would pay more for a “green” gift:

Most telling was the fact that the younger the demographic, the higher the percentage, suggesting continued growth in the value placed on green. Manufacturers will seek to meet that demand through a combination of action (green manufacturing) and marketing (greenwash), so the forecast for 2010 looks like continued growth in greenwashing.

Bah Humbug.

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