Are Most Businesses Going Green Just to Save Some Green?
I heard an interesting story the other day. A radio DJ was annoyed because when he went to pick up his boarding passes from the check in counter, he was handed them without any kind of ticket wallet to keep them together. The reason: “It’s our effort to save the environment sir.” But was it really just an effort to save money?
When you think about it, airlines are hardly the greenest of companies. When you get to you gate, you are presented with your jet plane complete with thousands of gallons of fuel. The haze of fumes rising from the fuel is enough to make you think you’re witnessing an oasis in the desert.
But still, every little helps. And yet when the DJ was informed of the disappearing wallets for boarding passes and ticket stubs, he was more than a little cynical. “I don’t buy it. Are they being green, or just saving some green?” he asked his audience.
It’s a legitimate question. Is it fair for businesses to hide cost-cutting exercises under the guise of environmentally friendly intentions? It seems more than a little sneaky to me. After all, if they’re making these cuts for the planet, and not for profit, then shouldn’t we see some of that money coming back to us in the form of lower prices? Most likely, any cuts that are made benefit the corporations and their shareholders, not the general public.
When I started looking for other examples of “green initiatives” I did start to wonder if the planet really was the cause for the change, or was it simply done as a way to increase the health of the corporation’s bottom line.
From cheaper, recycled toilet papers, to decreased services in hotels and restaurants, I noticed the influence of the environment everywhere. On a flight recently, I was asked to re-use the same plastic cup. In a hotel, the towels were only washed if I specifcally requested it. At a New York pizzeria, napkins were limited to THREE per customer. (I only needed one by the way, but if you've ever eaten out with young children, those three napkins would have been stretched thin.) Ironically, in that same pizza place I saw that the prices had actually gone up, with makeshift stickers being placed over cheaper prices. The economy is certainly taking its toll, and yet the environment is supposedly the cause of the cutbacks.
Now I, for one, like that we’re saving the planet in any way that we can. And I love that our corporations are embracing it. But it does make me wonder what the real reason for change is.
Have you noticed these changes around you? Have you been charged MORE for green products and services that actually cost less to produce and maintain than the non-green versions? Have you ever felt a nagging doubt that profit was the real reason for change, not the environment?
At the end of the day, I suppose it shouldn’t matter too much. After all, if the business saves money and helps the environment in the process, regardless of their intention, then that’s a good thing, right? But when you see no added benefit in the form of a price reduction, or you even see a price hike for going green, well that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.