“Saving the planet,” the goal of the green movement, what does this mean? The planet does not need our saving; in fact, if all of mankind came together with the reverse objective of “killing” the planet, it is highly unlikely that we would be able to do so, much less can we collectively “save” it. So what is really meant by “saving the planet?” I think the implied meaning is to preserve the planet as a favorable environment for human habitation. I say human habitation, not all species, because species come and species go, and each fare for themselves more or less, and we humans have to do the same. We may expend our effort to preserve certain other species because of their current or future importance to our own, but to subjugate our own existence or continued proliferation to another species is suicidal. The same can be said about preserving the earth, or “saving the earth” for the earth’s sake. We strive to preserve the earth for our own sake. We should be saying “save ourselves,” not to “save the earth.”

Assuming this is correct, and no doubt there are those who will disagree, some people will disagree with anything; what does it mean then to be “sustainable,” or to be “green?” It is very vague. “Green” is not “black and white.” What exactly do we need to preserve about the earth to ensure our continued existence and prosperity for the reasonably foreseeable future or perhaps eternity? I don’t know, does the USGBC know? If they do they must have a direct line to the almighty.

In the spirit of reporting and not editorializing, there seem to be five categories that define “green” products and ideas. They are: First; energy consumption, primarily energy from fossil fuels, but necessarily, any energy saving is considered “green.” Second; preservation of limited resources, land, water, fresh air, virgin forest, etc. Third; providing safe immediate circumstances for people such as alleviating toxic substances and unsafe conditions. Fourth; improving the sensual environment for human occupants, natural light, fresh clean air, etc. And fifth; commerce, marketing and promotion. The commerce category is equally important to the other four since we live in a human economic climate just as we live in a natural climate. The economics must be made to work just as the physics and science must be made to work. Unfortunately, in order to make the economics work, the physics and science are often misrepresented or even falsified, such as promoting the idea that the earth requires “saving.” In all of the spin, dreamt up to support the commerce, the other four categories have become so distorted that there is little reality left in the claims made by green proponents and product manufacturers. The fact is that wasting resources is without questions not a “sustainable,” nor a “green” concept. But when one defines “resources,” one must consider financial resources, which are also of limited supply. Wasting financial resources is no more and no less a violation of “green” and “sustainable” philosophy than wasting fossil fuel.

Consider taking a moment before purchasing or specifying your next “green” product to ask yourself exactly how this product, service or idea contributes to the goals identified in the other four categories. Compare the financial resources that must be expended to get the “green” product vs. the alternatives. Do a little research and a little analysis and you might find that the product that doesn’t say “green” on the label is actually as, or more “green” than the “green” one.