Green Spot: Justifying That Product

Whenever we buy just about anything we have typically justified the purchase in our minds by some means or another.  We buy food because we like the taste of a particular product or it was the lowest price.  Marketers have long know about this fact and have often tried to be helpful in allowing us to justify buying their particular product by saying their product is helpful, cool, allow you to save time or what ever angle they can come up with.  What’s been different on this front lately is the fact that everyone seems to be ‘green washing’ their products to highlight their environmentally friendly qualities.

A classic example can be found in my latest technology obsession, an ebook reader.  I found this post over at the New York Times that points out a study that shows an ebook reader will likely emit less greenhouse gases than the a certain number of real books.  So people are feeding my obsession and saying I could buy their product and save the world all at the same time.  How convenient?

Yet at the end of the New York Times post they point out the obvious: if you use the library you would likely already cutting down on your carbon footprint from reading books.  So hence buying an ebook reader is questionable again, at least for how ‘green’ it is.

Which is really the point of this post: buying something because it is ‘green’ is often misguided justification supplied by marketing people.  It’s not always, but often it is.  So don’t worry about how ‘green’ everything in your house is or not.

Just use your common sense after reading the product label mostly truly green products like to use numbers or specific information to prove how green the product is while ‘green washed’ products tend to use empty phrases like ‘less chemicals’ or ‘less energy’ with no information to support the claim.  Use your head and you likely will be fine and then you can justify your purchase on those old methods of price and quality.

5 thoughts on “Green Spot: Justifying That Product”

  1. If you’re really using your head, you’ll actually research the “green” claim to see if a product is really green (or at least “more green than an alternative”, or “more green than a comparable product”), instead of just being green-washed by Marketing, along with thinking about price and quality.

  2. I think your point about looking at the alternative methods of getting what you want, should be one of your top filters in assessing a need for a product.

    I do that when I go shopping for clothes or new products. 🙂

    I too want an e-book reader, but my hang up is I don’t want to pay $300 – $400 for something that I will have to pay $10 – $15 for each e-book subsequently.

  3. Oh and I should mention that even when you buy green products like you’ve mentioned, reading the label for known green-killers like SLS or any other chemicals that don’t bio degrade well is also a major tip off in cosmetics and cleaning products.

  4. I used to be much better at “justifying” a purchase in the past, whether it was because it was a “green” product or “more efficient” then what I currently was using.

    Now, I look for things that will last for an extended period of time. Using your example of an e-reader, I can see the appeal for this slick machine, but what will it be like in a year or 2? I have several things like that that are essentially obsolete or unused because they are not feasible after a short period of time.

    Myself, like you I use the library.

  5. FB,

    Good point an actually need for the product in question is a good place to start to determine if you will buy it.


    I’ve had similar experiences in the past with some electronics (use it and then stop after a while). So I tend to be much more careful about what I buy. I’ve accepted the risk of this with an ebook reader. My greater concern is the ebook reader on the cusp of mainstream. If so should I wait a year and get a better product for cheaper? Not to mention let Google’s lawsuits finish up.


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