Don’t Take “GO GREEN” Quite as Literally
By: Emily Chan, Grade 11
When you think of “green,” what comes to mind? Do you picture a contrast of green paint against a stark white canvas? Do you image a green frog, leaping across the ripples of a pristine lake? Or is your mind immersed into imagery of nature: green grass and trees swaying in the gentle night-time breeze?
Whatever image is conjured up in your mind, there is one term that seems to be currently sweeping the nation: ‘GO GREEN’. Despite our humorous ideas, I regret to inform you that they’re not recommending painting yourself the colour of an unripe banana. Even if that is the case, I really wouldn’t recommend it. ‘GO GREEN’ is a term used to describe the concepts of sustainability; being environmentally-friendly, and respecting the Earth.
As green is often associated as the colour of nature, the term has caught on and is used constantly when describing environmental efforts! But what if I were to tell you something that would go against all of this logic? What if I were to tell you that going “GREEN” may not be the right thing to do? What if I were to tell you…
THE COLOUR GREEN ISN’T GREEN?
That’s right, you heard it here! To make plastics, paper, and other products green, many chemicals are used to achieve this particular hue. In the words of a German chemist, Michael Braungart, “The color green can never be green, because of the way it is made. It’s impossible to dye plastic green or to print green ink on paper without contaminating them.” Ironic doesn’t even begin to describe this!
Products that have been dyed green can’t be recycled or composted in the correct way because of the chemicals. They would only end up contaminating everything else! However, the real problem is that these toxic chemicals need to be used; otherwise, the plastics would become unstable.
In fact, the colour green has a very interesting history that traces back to before the 18th century! Artists tried for years to conjure up the perfect colour of green, but it always faded. When the 19th century came around, green paints were so dangerous and strong that they burnt holes into many materials, including canvas, paper, and wood.
So when did this dangerous, unrecyclable, chemically-enhanced colour become the face of the environmental revolution? Some would argue that it happened on a brisk day in the late 1970s, when Greenpeace was founded. Since then, groups such as the Green Party and other environmental activists have flourished under this colour choice.
Another example of the use of this colour is green-washing. Green-washing is the concept of major corporations jumping on the bandwagon of being environmentally friendly, but doing it for the wrong reasons. For example, hotels that recommends using fewer towels to save on the waste of water, but failing to mention the increase to their own profits. It’s evident that no matter why or how these companies are doing these promotions, in the long run it still helps the environment. However, the companies are indulging in these schemes of advertising to follow and fit into the status quo.
With concepts such as “green-washing” entering our society, it’s getting harder and harder to get away from the chemically-enhanced green plastics and instead appreciating the pure and natural beauty of naturally-grown trees, grasses, and other greenery.
Remember this; green is NOT green. Also, be careful which bandwagons you jump onto. Even though colours may seem so universal, you don’t know whether you’ll be jumping into a wagon full of the greenest grass or a pile of deadly chemicals!