IT'S NOT THAT EASY BEING GREEN
T’S NOT THAT easy being green. When Icelandic musician, Bragi Thor Valsson penned this lyric decades ago—which later became famous in the 1970’s by everybody’s favorite frog, Kermit—he couldn’t have known how prophetic the words would one day prove to be.
Aside from providing a lovable children’s puppet with a cathartic means by which to come to terms with his self image, the lyric has, for this writer, come to epitomize the largely unspoken sentiment felt by much of the industry—What exactly does it mean to “go green?”
For many suppliers, such as Fenton, Missouri-based QuickPoint, going green has to do with the incorporation, either in whole or in part, of environmentally responsible materials and/or practices in the makeup of their products and/or services. According to Joe Keely, director of sales at QuickPoint, a green product is one “made from a renewable source ... and it should be biodegradable.”
Thus, in an effort to do its part to be less harmful to the environment, this year QuickPoint rolled out its Nature-Ad line, which includes a selection of plastic products made from U.S.-grown corn. Items in the line—drinkware, writing instruments, tools, travel accessories and others—are said to be “compostable and biodegradable.” In addition, the company has introduced an Eco-Ad line, comprising of products made from a blend of natural plant starches, including potatoes, corn, wheat, tapioca, beets and soybeans. According to marketing collateral, Eco-Ad products are “reinforced with less than five percent synthetic polymers, [making the plastics] 100 percent biodegradable.”
While Keely’s explanation of what a green product could be might satisfy some, there are other industry professionals who are wary of ‘green washing’—a term used to describe the labeling of products as eco-friendly when they may not be, according to Jeff Lederer, executive vice president at Prime Line, Bridgeport, Conn. In fact, he sharply condemned the entire notion of
assigning the “green” label to any product. “There is no one true definition of what green means, so we will never say that we’re a ‘green’ company or have ‘green’ products,” he said. Keely, too, admitted to the widespread uncertaintity of what being green means.