‘Green’ is green

Nearly every hotel I stay at these days has a notice– inevitably blue or green – in the bath urging me to “Help Save the Environment” by putting only those items on the floor that need to be replaced, keeping the rest for another day’s use.  The request appeals to your guilt over the environmental costs in terms of energy and water in all this towel washing and sheet drying, etc. Of course I am glad to help, but the motivation of the hotel is much more direct and less socially motivated: they want to save money.

Also ubiquitous are those requests in the mail saying “We’re Going Green!” urging you to stop getting this or that information on paper, and to sign up for email alerts or consult the web.  Our local NPR affiliate just did this, to my mother’s chagrin, as she is not wired in.  Again, the appeal is to save paper and energy, and again the reality is that it is a money-saving maneuver.

We are going to do the same thing in our own operation very soon, and we will probably make the same appeal, but our motivation is the same: postal mailings are very expensive of both administrative time, postal money, and printing money – and 95% of the paper probably goes pretty directly into the recycling system (more energy) or worse.  Compared to an email blast that goes to thousands of people at the click of a button – it’s a no-brainer example of positive ephemeralization – doing more with less.

So what puzzles me is why more supposedly ‘conservative’ politicians don’t see the value in this form of conservation.  Spending 17% of our GDP on health care is not only monstrous, it is economically inefficient, and will slow down our recovery and make us less competitive in the 21st century world market. (And Americas does not have anything like “the best health care in the world” by nearly any objective measure.)

Going green is not only the right thing to do, not only the Christian thing to do (all those shepherd images evoking good stewardship), it is also the most economically advantageous thing to do.  Dragging our feet on environmental standards and cleaning up our act is one of the greatest threats to our economic recovery.

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