Let’s see: Green is the new black. Green is the new red, white, and blue. And green is the new green, or at least a new means of getting people to plunk down more of it. To some, the “green consumer” is an oxymoron (they might even drop the “oxy”). The real solution, they say, is to consume less. While there’s some truth to this, a Walden-or-bust approach seems ill-suited to our present culture. Greed and vanity are alive and well; if they can be enlisted in the fight to save the planet, who are we to turn them away? With green-hype alert levels recently upgraded to orange, skepticism is warranted; here, our fictional sparring partners examine some well-intentioned products that mainly serve the buyers’ self-esteem, and others that have unsuspected depths.
1. OIL-DRUM COFFEE TABLE
Check this out: a coffee table made from an oil drum.
The perfect home accent for an Earth lover!
Correct: an oil drum that won’t litter the landscape.
It should litter my living room instead? Better to melt it down with the other scrap metal and make it into something useful, like whistles for EPA employees. Look, there’s plenty of demand for scrap steel: In fact, 88% of all new steel products in the U.S. get recycled, which typically gives an energy savings of 74%.
Yeah, but with this table the energy savings is closer to 100%.
You’re missing a key point: Nobody needs a steel coffee table—I mean, unless they really go overboard on the Helmut Newton books.
Okay, maybe it’s not all that practical. But it’s a symbol of your commitment to...
To showing off my commitment?
VERDICT: Buy a nicer table for half the price and put the savings into carbon offsets.