11 August 2009

green: what about the rest of the rainbow?

green (adj.)
to
green (v.)
greening (n.)

i have green up the wazoo (wherever that even is). i am greened out.

honestly, i have never seen so many references to the word "green" in my life than during this summer internship. of course, i work for the green development center - that in itself should have clued me in. however, the casual way this word is thrown around really makes me question whether people know what it means.

"green" has moved light years beyond its meaning as a mere color in a crayola box, although some people still might conceive of it as such. (just check out my classmate lara's search for green bricks for our vault project, and you'll probably laugh.) but still, what do people typically even mean when they use it?

in my work this summer at a community development non profit, i think most of the time it refers to a very amorphous collection of things that is somehow good for the environment. it's vague. it's a buzz word. and saying it means the speaker/writer is off the hook for actually being more precise. even substituting it with "sustainable" (another buzz word) or "environmental (my word of choice) helps to a certain extent... but not always.

when i ask more probing questions like, "so, what exactly are these 'green features' you plan to incorporate in your project?" sometimes the response has been, "what do you think we should do? maybe energy star appliances and solar panels?" when you get to the bottom of it, most users seem to equate it with a smaller carbon footprint and energy efficiency. and solar panels - almost always. i don't mean to minimize the importance of energy savings, but what about the rest of the environment? water conservation? materials? renewables?

outside of the affordable housing scope and in the blogsphere, i've come across "green" referring to eco-friendly products made from recycled materials or from some soy-based organic material that is supposedly not harmful to the environment (note: it's "not harmful," not "good" or "friendly to"). here, there's such a pervasive "feel good" atmosphere that i've seen categorized as "rose" blogging - posts that are meant to make the reader feel warm and fuzzy inside.

ugh. i already don't like chick flicks, so let this not be another syrupy story.

i think society needs a larger vocabulary. and less clip art.