Friday, November 2, 2012

This ‘Green’ thing


I must admit that I really do not understand this Green thing. It may seem like one small item in the vast sea of my ignorance and I would have been content to live without knowing about it but for the fact that it keeps intruding in my daily life.
Time was when I used to go to the mall pick up what I wanted and when I checked out they used to silently pack it in plastic bags and send me on my way. Now, all of a sudden, they ask me if I want carry bags and charge me for it. Seek the reasons and they claim that they have gone Green. Can anyone tell me why packing each type of vegetable and fruit in separate plastic bags is more green than getting carry-bags to take them home? Or why paying a couple of bucks for the carry bag makes their usage Greener than taking them away for free? Is it that they seriously think that someone paying a couple of thousand bucks for his purchases will balk at paying a couple of bucks for the carry-bag and, thus, bring along his own bag?
If there was any serious intent to go green, they would put in place a system where they weigh vegetables and fruits without needing them packed in plastic – and would sell jute bags at the counter instead of plastic carry-bags. But, then, since when has any business failed to use any and every interest of Society to add to its own revenues? Like that mobile manufacturer who wanted you to dump your old mobiles in their showrooms for free  in order to, what else, go Green when your local shop was willing to pay a hundred bucks in order to be able to scavenge the phone for parts.
Why do we feel that we are being Green when we eschew plastic bags while we can, without qualm, dump a six month old serviceable mobile for the latest model with a few more features which we will seldom, if ever, use? Do we think mobiles are made of bio-degradable substances and no energy goes into making them? And, of course, when we gorge on packed potato chips and aerated drinks the only problem is with people who talk of empty calories – the plastic in which the one is packed and the other is bottled just cannot to be talked of in the same breath as plastic carry-bags!
The previous generation, of course, were totally uncaring about the environment! We can feel superior about how Green we are while taking the elevator down to the ground floor, driving our SUV a couple of kilometers to the gym in order to exercise on the stepper and the treadmill while those non-environmentally minded folks go walking. How little they cared about the environment when they bought those marbles and wooden tops for their children while we raise our own on plastic toys to video games.
Looks to me like all that Green means is to follow what you think is the fashion of today. As long as it does not affect my day-to-day life and comforts I shall be Green. Not much different from the past and shall not be too different in the future. The only thing that has been added is a ‘Holier than thou’ attitude!

46 comments:

  1. Very good points made sir, I think this is just another way of making money.. my personal thought that is.

    Here too in uk they stopped giving plastic bags for probably a month or two but they are back again.. the only difference is Now the guy on the counter asks , do you want bags .. earlier they were just laying on the side ..

    Something to think about for sure , this post ..

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Business is business the world over, isn't it, Bikramjit!

      Delete
    2. It indeed is sir, after all money is a necessity and it makes the world go round .. :)

      Delete
    3. Mmm! I love to think of a world where people take pride in making money only to the extent they provide value to Society - no matter how unrealistic that thought is :)

      Delete
  2. Exactly me feelings Suresh. Those are truly annoying moments. Cloth/jute bags are the answer to the various forms of plastic bags. Thanks for speaking out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I had good company in this, Uma, now I know it!

      Delete
  3. Maybe next could be a green lift, if you want to use it you will have to pay for it and our contribution to greenery would be excused if we pay for the lift :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why not? We already have Green A/cs :)

      Delete
  4. I agree with your sentiment. But I also feel the some action has to start somewhere. And plastic bags do find their way more easily onto our roads and into our gutters. The person at the counter of the shopping mall might not really care about the environment at all. But someone somewhere has begun to and that is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My problem is not that it started there but that it seems to have stopped there and gone no further!

      Delete
    2. I am definitely with you on that. I think of plastics in every thing I use. I have an agreement with my raddi guy and save scraps of even biscuit wrappers and send it for recylcling. Refuse individual carry bags for veggies from the supermarket. All jars in my kitchen are glass.Use cloth nappies instead of diapers... But it is a lot of hard work and sometimes really frustrating. And no matter how much you try, there will still be a hundred things you do in the day which damages the environment. Sometimes I just take it easy for peace of mind. :-)

      Delete
    3. Don't I know it! Close to no municipality seems to care about segregation of waste and it is left to the individual to make arrangements. It is indeed too much work :)

      My point about malls was also that they have chosen the easiest and most lucrative way to go 'Green'. If they were really serious they would cut out that 95% plastic that they load on to you by asking you to have your fruits and vegetables packed in plastic and provide cloth/jute bags rather than concentrating on making you pay for plastic carry bags.

      Delete
  5. Thats like hitting the nail rt on the head CS....I remember times when we went to the market and the shopkeeper would weigh the required quantity of any veg that we want and would put it into a jute bag that we carried...Not one but all of the vegetables together...Then on getting back home we would dump all of it in the center of the hall/kitchen and go about with a segregating and sorting process...That used to be fun! Gone are those days! Sigh!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm very much for the Green Movement but the supermarkets doing it in a ridiculous way is really irritating. Very well pointed out that they're happy to use 200gms of plastic sheets for individual packing but 'go green' for the carry bag!
    If annoyance had a color it would be green at such moments of this movement:):)
    Your write came as a fresh green breath of relief and solace that the aware fellow beings are bugged too by the pointless(but stinging) green bug:):D Thank you Suresh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sort of tokenism gets my goat, Amit! Out of all the plastic you carry out of a mall, the carry-bag is less than 5%. Out of all the plastic that you carry out of a mall, the carry-bag is the only one where they can do something to boost their profits. So, guess where they go green? :)

      Delete
  7. very nice post sir....Although, i can't agree that previous generations were more eco friendly.They didn't have sufficient means to pollute as we have..but i cant say they were what they were, by choice.
    Plastic bags are another trouble..and the way they keep floating everywhere separates them from solid plastic which is still remains a bit "pick-able and drop-able"..but the heart of the post is something i feel fully connected..i don't see why they cant give paper bag for packaging just like they used to give plastic and how come this comes on consumer, enabling them generating more money out of junk...And finally they can't put surcharges on moral issues..Whats the difference between moral and legal obligations??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read my last paragraph, Shubham! I am not saying that the previous generation was more eco-friendly by choice - I am saying that the current generation is as bad in choosing their own comfort over eco-friendliness as the previous generation, that is all!

      As for your pickable and dropable business that is at the heart of all this problem. Drop where? Into an asteroid? And the carbon footprint of the energy consumption that goes into producing those pickable and dropable waste? Or do you think eco-friendliness is only about plastic clogging gutters and choking cattle - and not about atmospheric pollution as well?

      Delete
    2. my mistake...I missed out in understanding last paragraph...
      Though you might agree that we are at least more aware of the problem..Perhaps due to the sole reason that problem is more visible..
      I fully agree to your point regarding energy consumption but somewhere i find that unavoidable..Even recycling needs energy..and that's where i feel more troubled when i see a beautiful piece of plastic bag on a lonely mountain ...for it shall never be collected..or across the country on the side of rail track..That will never be collected..even if we could recycle and even if in future we succeed in developing a technology to cope up with plastic..
      as far as Pollution as a whole is concerned, It might be pretty much unavoidable..perhaps we are naturally designed to change the course of nature..this post and your reply is quite though provoking.....I think i am thinking quite prematurely so far....

      Delete
    3. The problem is very seldom with awareness but in what you do with it - and you cannot blame a generation for not possessing information that was not yet discovered.

      Quite right that recycling also requires energy - and burning it off adds to atmospheric pollution. The point I am making is that one can control consumption but will not because it cuts into comfort levels.

      I am a trekker and a witness to the horrors that plastic wreaks on nature and its beings. And, believe me, most of that plastic is that which packages your food-stuffs and not carry-bags! And that is a menace that no-one is even talking of controlling!

      Delete
    4. that is very true sir....that is a menace that on is talking about...

      Delete
  8. So aptly put, Suresh!
    Go Green; We see red, they see grey ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I so relate to this post and echo your angst.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have really pointed out the issues well. Unfortunately, our people know too well how to find out loopholes even if the legislation is by miracle is not mindless.

    Most of the times these days we engage in impulse purchase. That means the person would not have a carry bag. It is good to have a carry bag in the car though. I agree that instead of plastics, the shops should have a jute carry bag.

    There are too many things that we don't do. How many lights keep on glowing even when it is not required. How many taps keep on running in houses because people dont bother to call the plumber as he may charge a few hundred rupees. To feed the crores of people of our metros, a number of rivers are damed (damned) with its attendant problems...

    We need drastic steps rather than some silly things which satisfy our conscience that we are taking some action. Unfortunately, we don't care too hoots for the environment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite true! I, too, was thinking of all those wasteful usages of power and water - did not fit in the flow of this narrative in my mind!

      Delete
  11. It's the most ignored word in-front of our comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice post-this whole culture of use & throw adds to the piles of garbage in cities.The business class couldn't care less.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do any of us really Indu? If it comes to sacrificing our own comforts :)

      Delete
    2. OH yes, i save even the smallest bit of paper & put it inside old newspapers.We take home stitched bags for shopping & tell the vegetable seller to not put them in polythene bags.Some of them do it out of force of habit or to separate the tiny items,then i return those bags to the shopkeeper.Likewise we do not waste electricity or water.I recycle whatever i can.

      Delete
    3. That's great Indu! Wish I could say as much about myself - though I try :)

      Delete
  13. you said it! The attitude sucks. And as for the earlier generation that did not think green, I remember a forward that listed out all the things that we did -- from using glass bottles for milk and aerated drinks to taking a cloth bag for shopping (remember those ghastly yellow cloth bags given by jewellery shops?) I used to hate them and preferred plain ones stitched by mother :)

    It is all about double standards with commercial concerns ruling the roost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can I forget those bags? One of the main reasons why I hated being sent to shop was having to carry those bags :)

      Delete
  14. Fully agree. But at least we are talking about 'green' and someday some sense will emerge out of this nonsense.I had one more point to this green hype. It companies have taken off tissues from washrooms in the name of green. And what the alternative? Standing in line and using the dryer consuming electricity drying the hand or walking around the office with wet hands.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Green is the flavour of the day, week, month, year, decade, century, millennium... And it's fashionable to be green too. One retail giant proudly says they use green plastic bags. Few customers have realised that the green here refers to the colour, rather than any kindness or thoughts to the environment.

    As you have rightly pointed out, charging extra for a carry bag is silly and defeats the purpose when all the packets purchased are wrapped in plastic. But then it's a step towards being "green" and assuaging their guilt, right?

    Great post, Suresh. You have actually given me an idea for a post on plastic bags. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not at all silly, Sudha! They have only used the 'Green' movement to make more money - Rs.2/= per carry bag from all the customers who do get them. They are not assuaging their guilt at all - they are shrewdly making use of the situation to augment their profits.

      Delete
    2. I meant used the words "silly" and "guilt" in a sarcastic way, Suresh. I realised that in my haste to comment I forgot to add the quote marks to "silly" and "guilt". Sorry.

      Delete
    3. Should have guessed that, Sudha! :)

      Delete
  16. On the dot! Going Green, like everything else, has become more a 'fad' , even a marketing tool, than a real, sustained commitment to the environment.

    ReplyDelete