Concentration, Alliteration, It’s Still Not Green

Photo Credit Latente

Photo Credit: Latente

One of the things that I mention in Green Washed is that our emphasis on individual actions ignores the larger environmental picture and gets us to focus our attention on the wrong things.

Case in point.

The past few months the New York Times, the online journal Green Biz, and the blog Tree Hugger, have all run stories promoting the use of concentrated refills as a green leap forward.

Sure, while Windex is relatively ecologically harmless, most cleaning products are not. In fact most are downright toxic. It seems odd then to focus on putting poison in a smaller package, when our focus should be on reducing the use of poisons in the first place.

Further, while the ideal scenario would be to have people purchase their own bottles (if you pay for it, you tend to hold onto it for longer hence why an increasing number of places are starting to charge for plastic bags at the supermarket). The bottles would be stronger than the cheap leaky ones that currently grace cleaning aisle shelves and in theory infinitely refillable.

Except you can’t do that.

Our fairly toxic cleansers  can’t be mixed.

Nobody wants to die of fumes because they put bleach in a bottle that once held ammonia in the same bottle.

Because of this toxicity issue, unless you’re extremely well versed in chemistry the reality is then that whatever product you choose to use you’re going to have to keep using.

In other words, buying a concentrated form of Windex pretty much obliges you to keep using windex, which explains why companies are pushing concentrates on us. They get the benefit of lower costs, higher profits, forced customer loyalty and the veneer of sustainability.

I’m just not sure why the rest of us should care.