Caring for the environment used to be tough duty. However, during the last couple of decades, it’s become a marketing opportunity.
Manufacturers are churning out more and more environmentally friendly products and retailers are finding in many cases they can be sold at a premium. But beware – not everything sold in the green garden is all roses. Over the long haul, selling “green” may be a lot more difficult than selling soap flakes.
Phosphate-free detergent, lead-free gas, aerosol sprays minus the chlorofluorocarbons and other green garden goodies have been available in some form or another since the early ‘80s. Today, they are nearly as common, or in some cases, more so than farm-fresh eggs, free-range chickens, hogs and cattle, fresh vegetables – you name it.
During this nearly 30-year growing period, consumers embraced the notion of buying green with a zeal that was almost patriotic. As they become more environmentally tuned in day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year, greenies bought beyond what was even required by law in a religious frenzy.
Some companies have launched their own label green brands. Many of these companies have grown their green products by the hundreds.
Many of these items are simply repackaged old ideas, you know, what’s old becomes new when introduced to a new generation of consumers especially those who choose to paint themselves green.
One such item is baking soda, which has been marketed as a more environmentally friendly way to scour pots and pans.
Can you believe it?
My mother and her mother before her used and understood that baking soda was the only real way to keep their kitchens clean or green nearly a century ago.
Another green product that has rocketed off the supermarket shelves are biodegradable garbage bags made from corn extract.
One item that’s become green is dishwasher detergent and it’s worthless. The only way to clean your dishes, knives and forks and pots and pans with today’s detergent is to run your machine half full or a couple times. I know this is the truth, because I’ve had to do so.
I’ve even visited with appliance dealers that have told me today’s dishwasher detergents no longer have phosphates (banned as unsafe for our environment) which cleaned our tableware and did it right. Today’s dishwasher detergents are not formulated to remove hard water minerals during the main wash cycle.
Lemi Shine promises to solve this problem.
Combined with your auto dish detergent, Lemi Shine removes tough hard water spots, stains and film during the main wash cycle, so says the product commercial. You will be pleased to know that Lemi Shine is comprised of 100 percent all natural fruit acids and oils. That’s right, Lemi Shine contains no phosphates or fillers.
Now don’t you feel better?
Even that revered group that I now belong to, the aging Baby Boomers, is boarding the green train.
Just the other day I read U.S. residents older than 55 are opting for unbleached bathroom paper. Not only is it the correct way to help Mother Earth, it’s also softer and easier on the ole’ bottom. I swear to God I didn’t make this up, although I kinda’ wish I had.
When will the pendulum swing the other way – toward a common-sense compromise?
Maybe it already is. Some companies who have wrapped themselves in green are finding doing so has not seemed to raise their credibility with consumers. Some in the public who walk among us are skeptical of any large organization that board the green bandwagon, particularly those that have little direct contact with the environment.
Although consumers, myself included, may want to accept social responsibility, few want to forgo quality in the products they buy.
To green or not to green?
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion