428153221_536ec99906_mOnce upon a time "green" was just a colour; a way of describing grass, plants, and of course Kermit the Frog; however, these days, (annoyingly) its becoming a verb.  I suspect this is part of some sort of global conspiracy to turn the English language on it’s head, to belittle the rules of grammar that have been instilled in children for centuries, but then again, I do have a vivid imagination.

Organizations give targets to green their operations, car manufacturers are greening their models with hybrids, you can green your home with Compact Fluorescent Globes. It’s the latest thing, like hula hoops and bubble skirts, but better! Perhaps Green will be the word of 2008, not as a noun or adjective, but yes, (and why not?), a verb! Green as a verb. Marketers are wishing they’d trademarked the rights to that concept, just like blackberry was once just a humble berry, and apple, well you get the picture.

The idea has so much traction that there are even terms that have grown out of the whole green movement thing. Greenwashing is what every corporation from here to Japan is doing to improve their image to all their nouveau-vert shareholders. (I know, it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as nouveau-green, but I’m not one to mix French and English, my wife is quite particular about that!).


There is even a name for the industry that has sprung up out of this situation: green collar jobs; and surprisingly, key media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post have found ways to featured this term in the past few months.

So, does this article have a point? I think so. And its that we need to be careful.

Careful in our language, careful about the dilution of ideas through overuse of terms, careful not to get sucked into belief of an obvious marketing ploy.

We’re in for a wild ride over the next twenty years. We have snake-oil salesmen promising great environmental benefits from the latest green product that they happen to be pushing, yet the average American consumer is buying ever more junk to fill their houses and use more energy. Cars are not getting smaller or more fuel efficient at anywhere near the pace required to make a substantial dent in the use of oil and production of CO2. The cost of living is going to escalate, while food and other "essentials" will likely become difficult to procure due to rising transportation costs and climate change.

Going green is not as simple as choosing a particular brand of toilet paper or a brand new hybrid car, it is about all of the choices we make every day and looking at the net impact our lives, as individuals and communities have on the world around us, and the legacy we aim to leave for future generations.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.