Who Is Responsible in Green Thinking?

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Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.  Are you thinking about what you purchased in terms of packaging?  Do you think about what you buy in terms of what will happen to it once it has served its useful life?  Do you think about where you are buying it or where it was made?

Newport Beach is a convenience-driven community with the income to throw money at choices.  It is America, and we have every right to do it.  Just thought I would share some ideas and pose some questions to you.

Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP).  Wikipedia defines ERP, also known as product stewardship, as using financial incentives to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers liable for the costs of managing their products at end of life. This tactic attempts to relieve local governments of the costs of managing certain priority products by forcing manufacturers to internalize the cost of recycling within the product price. EPR promotes that producers (usually brand owners) have the greatest control over product design and marketing and therefore have the greatest ability and responsibility to reduce toxicity and waste.

Some examples of “cradle to cradle” strategies are, ReUse, “buy-back” centers (think bottles and cans), recycling programs, waste to energy, and that products be manufactured with end of life in the design phase.  Choosing materials that can easily become something else, or easily recovered and ReUsed.  Partner with a company to take back e-waste.

Instead of planned obsolescence, a strategy of the past, where products were designed so you would need a new one, ERP attempts to hold the producer accountable and have the corresponding financial impacts accounted for in the purchase price.

We can debate government’s role – preferably in an old-school way, over a cold beer – but I advocate voluntary and incentive-based tactics first, or seeking a negotiated action to achieve a desired outcome, before the “you must” and “you shall” hammer is dropped with government mandates.  I believe in people and think education can lead to informed decisions.

What is the role of the consumer?  Well, do you shop based on convenience or do you choose a proprietor that you know will make sound green and sustainable choices for you?  Do you peek at where the product was made?  (Yes, we can debate the Harley Davidson “made in USA” over a cold beer, too).  Did you observe how much packaging waste was created by celebrating your holiday alst year and did this cause for pause encourage you to think differently this time around?

Before you think I am a green saint, holier than thou, there is much “do as I say” in this environmental sermon attempting to inspire action.  I did make 12 handmade gifts with my kids to send to family and friends, using seashells and lake stones from our summer vacation. I wrapped the gifts with newspaper and paper bags from the grocery store.  I bought my wife the heavenly bamboo she has long wanted, and planted it.  I bought a real-deal Balsam Christmas tree, from a store in the neighborhood.  I gave framed pictures that last generations.  I shopped local, and shopped small.

But – and here is the “there’s always a but” –  try as I might, I still had some areas where poor planning and convenience were the key drivers of my decisions.  Some wasteful packaging and stuff made in China, or parts unknown, made it under my tree this year.  Last but: But I did make an improvement over last year, and I see opportunities to improve for next year.

I am thinking small-eco wins.  Like for heavy coffee drinkers, are you still using single-use coffee cups?  Getting a ReUsable coffee mug or travel container is but one simple behavior change that can make a difference.  You push and I will pull in the New Green Year.

Any Green Year’s resolutions?  Send to [email protected]

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