Is “Green” So Last Year?


Does it drive you insane when a company says they are “going green?” Do you even believe most companies when they make these claims? If you answer yes to the first and no to the second question, you aren’t alone. Each year, Lake Superior State University accepts nominations for words people  want to banish in the new year. Submissions are accepted on their website. On the top of 2009’s list? The word “green.” 

Maybe Kermit was right – being green really isn’t easy.

So how are we to grapple with this situation? Do we remove the word entirely from our vernacular when speaking of our environmentally responsible actions? Is that even really possible? Can we really not use such catch phrases as “going green,” “green your life,” or dare I say it… “Be Green Minded?” Those of us who are aiming to change our lives (slowly or overnight!) want our actions to speak as loud as our words but we also want our words to be heard by the not yet eco-converted. But if terms like “green” will no longer be heard by the public because of its gross overuse, what else can we say?

Not to be outdone however, other eco-chic words like carbon footprint and carbon offsetting are on the 2009 list of words to banish as well. Overuse and likely the lack of understanding lead the rally to move away from terms like carbon footprint and carbon offsetting.  These words, however, really help quantify the impact we have on the environment as well as how much we reduce our impact through changes in our actions. Most of the public needs clear results in order to be compelled to act and these phrases help with just that.

BeGreenMinded wants to hear from you. What do you think about these results and the language used to describe environmentally responsible actions. Have you too grown tired of words like “green” and “carbon footprint?” Let us know in the comments below.

Image by Flickr user kevygee used under a Creative Commons License.

2 comments on “Is “Green” So Last Year?

  1. Gina M
    January 6, 2009

    We still need these words even if they are over used. They are very effective at communicating alot of information quickly, and I’m thankful they are mainstream.

    A good example is that ten years ago if I said “I’m going to green my home” friends thought I was painting.

    Without using the words green, eco, footprint, or environment, the alternative is long-winded and equally annoying, “I’m going to clean out my house and get rid of all the bleach, non-biodegradable soaps and cleaners, replace my lightbulbs with compact flourescent lights, install aerators on all the sinks, get a low-flow showerhead and toilet, gradually buy new energy star appliances, plant grass on my roof, only buy local or organic food, get a natural latex and organic cotton mattress next year, put my tv and dvd player on a power strip, seal the cracks in my house, add insulation and get an energy audit, and start a composting worm farm for all my kitchen scraps.”

    It’s great these words have become so mainstream!

  2. Jennae @ Green Your Decor
    January 19, 2009

    I have to agree with Gina. Everyone might say the words are overused, but the idea of “green” now has a universal meaning that wasn’t possible before the word became mainstream. It emcompasses all the things that the eco-conscious are doing to make our own homes and lives, and this world, a cleaner, safer place to live. And the term carbon footprint also sums up an idea that would be hard to explain without it. Overused or not, these words are necessary, and I think that with education, the general public will begin to understand that they are more than just trends — they are words that reflect a complete lifestyle choice.

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