Put Your Green Where Your Mouth Is

Growing up, there were seven of us in my house, and this equated to many showers taken each day. Add in the fact that we had a pool, and this basically meant my mother was doing multiple loads of towel-only laundry on a daily basis. Obviously, she had to put her foot down and teach us that we can use towels more than once.

Growing up, there were seven of us in my house, and this equated to many showers taken each day. Add in the fact that we had a pool, and this basically meant my mother was doing multiple loads of towel-only laundry on a daily basis. Obviously, she had to put her foot down and teach us that we can use towels more than once. She clearly did this for her own sanity, but as it turns out, she could have claimed she was doing this to save the environment.

As an editor, I travel often and spend a lot of time in hotels. No hotel room is complete without the prominently displayed earth-friendly signs that clearly explain, “A towel on the rack means, 'I will use again.' A towel on the floor means, 'Please replace.'” I’ve always found this “green” campaign a little bit silly, all the while hoping that pre-towel-sign-era housekeeping had never picked my towel up off the dirty hotel floor and neatly fold it back up on the rack.

Turns out, my pondering about this “save the planet” hotel marketing plan is totally unoriginal. Environmentalist Jay Westerveld beat me to the punch back in the 80’s, in an essay discussing how the hotel industry spent more money telling people how great their environmental campaigns were, than they did on actually reducing the hotel’s environmental impact. Enter the term: Greenwashing.

Almost every company, organization and politician in America is riding the green wave—some are making legitimate environmental efforts, and some are not. So, it always makes me happy to read about what appears to be well-thought out plans for sustainability. Case in point: I recently read an article about City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn’s plan to reform the New York’s food policy.

The six-month project hopes to help rejuvenate NY’s local agricultural system by encouraging NY schools and institutions to purchase locally grown produce. This will, in turn, reduce the carbon emissions that result from shipping food from across the country. The project aims to do this by redeveloping the Hunts Point wholesale market in Bronx, NY, where huge quantities of produce are sold daily. Currently, only 2 percent of the fruits and vegetables sold at Hunts Point are grown in-state. The proposed plan will necessitate the building of more local food manufacturing plants in New York, which will also create more food industry jobs for the state.

Is every single aspect of this plan feasible? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s refreshing to see a well-thought out project being put into place. The next time you read about a new sustainable effort, ask yourself, is this company/politician really concerned about going green, or do they just hate doing laundry?

What green projects have sparked your interest? Let me know at Karen.Langhauser@advantagemedia.com.

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