Defining "Green"

As a researcher, I’m a lot better at asking questions than giving answers, so if you are reading this post hoping to learn more about defining “green”, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  The only thing I know for sure about green is that you can make it by mixing yellow and blue.

Media of all kinds (traditional and online) is filled with reports and statistics related to companies and individuals making efforts to “go green” or to be more environmentally friendly, or initiatives related to sustainability.  They are impacting carbon footprints and lowering greenhouse gases.  Honestly, I try to follow and understand as much of the information as I can, but my head is spinning. 

I’ve conducted research projects over the past couple of years as more companies work to decipher the language and determine what is most meaningful to consumers.  The clear findings are that definitions and perceptions are quite blurred.  We often use the various terms associated with “green” almost interchangeably, or without knowing the actual definition in context.  This presents a challenge to companies and their marketers who are charged with communicating their efforts.

Ultimately, there is a lot to be learned and understood before anyone can determine whether one method or one material is more eco-friendly or more sustainable than another when it comes to packaging.  While one material might be “better” in one regard, it might require more resources to create, transport, or break down.  Just like the long-standing debate about paper and plastic – paper kills trees, plastic uses petroleum products, but petroleum products are used to run the tractors and trucks that transport the wood and fuel the factories that create the pulp, and so on.  Glass, you might say is a great material, totally recyclable, but it is heavy and the costs and the use of resources related to transportation would rise.

So perhaps I should have added a question mark to the title of this post.  My objective here is to ask the question, to start the conversation, and learn what we, as consumers, wonder and think about “going green”.

My questions to you…What questions do YOU have about “going green” or sustainability when it comes to packaging for the products you buy and use every day?  What terms are unclear?  What terms are more meaningful to you?  This is an open invitation to say “I don’t know…”