Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Should some products just not even bother trying to go green?

By Lorne Craig on August 15, 2008

Call me a hypocrite, but I’m a green guy who owns a chainsaw. Not an electric hedge-hacker. A big, gas-powered two-stroke Stihl – the Mercedes-Benz of chainsaws, if you will. I use a handsaw for some of the cutting around our cabin, but for bucking up a few cords of firewood, there really is no replacement. It is big, noisy, scary to use and effective as hell.

The other day I received Stihl’s new customer newsletter, the Outdoor Buzz. To my surprise, jammed in between the ‘Spring Savings’ box and the ‘Ignite Your Soul’ Harley Davidson contest, was a feature called Discover the Greener Side of Stihl. Was there hope for my guilt-ridden tree-massacring darker side? Clicking the link leads to an unnecessarily complicated bit of flash brochureware that opens to a picture of the BR500 Backpack Leaf Blower. Hmmm.

This marvel of green technology is touted to be more fuel efficient, and not as loud, “so landscape professionals can work faster, longer and quieter.”
I’m sorry, but leaf blowers rate right up there with the Hummer as poster children for everything that is wrong with unnecessary, polluting gadgetry. No amount of green features will convince me that the moron outside my window blowing cigarette butts onto the street shouldn’t just get off his fat ass and grab a rake.

Delving a little further into the copy of this on-line brochure, I discovered this feeble tidbit: “Stihl partners with agencies and organizations that encourage the responsible use of natural resources, promote sustainable woodlands and support the continuing education of our future farmers and agribusiness professionals.”

Here, at least is the kernel of an idea: an organization that makes its money selling tools for working in the bush, corporately supporting the land. That I can buy. Too bad they don’t offer any details as to the names of these mystery organizations, or the nature of their corporate support. Which leaves the impression (right or wrong) that they are token amounts given to unimportant causes.

Let’s face it. There will always be environmentally unfriendly products out there that people will choose to use. The companies that make these products, be they efficient chainsaws or useless dust-blowers, would be well advised to leave the greenwash off them, and concentrate instead on meaningful corporate environmental action. Then tell people about it. Humbly, honestly and transparently.

But enough of that mushy green mumbo jumbo. I’ve got trees to kill.

Image Montage: Lorne Craig
Image Credit: Photography ©istockphoto/Don Nichols/Ekspansio