Giving the Wrong Green: What Not to Buy this Holiday Season

Giving the Wrong Green: What Not to Buy this Holiday Season

Sometimes we become so embedded in our green movement that it is easy to be ‘blinded by the light’. Take a step back this holiday season and really examine your latest research when it comes to purchasing green products. It may have been a while since you looked at the many items that tout their green status but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. Certain companies will do, say or advertise in any green, eco-friendly, environmentally concerned way just to get you to drop your hard earned coin on something that may not be what it says it is. Here’s a look at a few examples.

Carbon Offset

Many well intentioned organizations appeal to the eco-friendly consumer by offering carbon offset packages. This is paying a company to invest your money in emission reducing projects to shrink greenhouse gases you are creating yourself (or giving it as a gift for someone else’s eco-irresponsibility). Basically it is a lazy man’s approach to going green. What most people do not realize is that there is no government oversight to these carbon offset companies and you may be paying for something that would have been done anyway or creates no impact whatsoever. Instead of giving the gift of carbon offset, give the gift of eco-knowledge with a book, DVD, tickets to a lecture, etc. Better to teach someone to fish rather than give them a fish.

Organic Wine

It sounds good and it may even taste good but the façade of organic wine or spirits could very well be a marketing ruse. According to Jerald O’Kennard, director of Chicago-based reviewing group the Beverage Testing Institute, most processing techniques such as fermentation, distillation and filtering wines and spirits eliminate pesticide residue anyway. In addition, organic wine has a very short shelf life so there’s the potential to sour much faster than traditional wine. Also, do not be fooled by ‘organically grown grapes’ as winemakers are allowed and often use upwards of 500 additives within the production process.

Gift Baskets

Sending a gift basket is wildly popular during the holidays as it enables a hodgepodge of a variety of food or other items that will hopefully ‘wow’ the giftee. This year be mindful of the gift basket you choose as its green status may very well be compromised. Avoid baskets that contain tropical fruits and nuts as these must be harvested and shipped from across the globe to get to their destination. This, in turn, creates a huge, unnecessary, carbon footprint. Instead, seek out local companies that use seasonal, locally farmed fruits and vegetables to create a basket that supports nearby business.

These are only a few of the many alleged green products out there. Slow down this holiday season and give some extra thought to how you choose your green gifts. Keep an eye out for red flags such as words like ‘all-natural’, ‘green’ and ‘organic’. All it takes is a little digging and common sense to see through these untoward practices.


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