Going Green: The Tradeoff Game

Posted by Steve Kleber on Jul 25, 2011

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There are many reasons and approaches to go green. Going green can save energy and water, reduce harmful emissions and preserve plants and wildlife. But often each green decision comes with a tradeoff. Typically the tradeoff most talked about is money. The initial investment in green technologies has historically been more expensive than their less eco-friendly counterparts. But there is another tradeoff to being green that must be considered. Oftentimes, green practices also come with green consequences.

Landfill next to a fieldLook at, for example, dishes. One option is to use ceramic or glass dishes every night and wash them while the other option is to use paper dishes every night and throw them away. Reusable dishes reduce your trash flow and landfill space, but increase your water usage. Paper dishes reduce your water usage while taking up more landfill space. Which one is greener? It truly depends on the unique user. Maybe you live in an area that has severe droughts every summer, in which case paper products would help your area conserve water during drought season. Or perhaps your local landfill is out of room; reusable plates would probably be the better option for your environment.

Green forestThere are many home building products that are made from natural materials and there are many more that are made from synthetic materials. Natural materials may conserve energy, but deplete resources like forests. Synthetic materials may preserve forests while depleting other natural resources like oil and producing harmful emissions. So which is the better choice? That is up to your customers to decide. What is important for you to know as a building product manufacturer is that your green products present different benefits to different people. Know your customers and what aspects of going green are important to them… and which they are willing to sacrifice. By correctly targeting your green products to the right audience, you can make the tradeoff decision much easier for your customer.

This entry was posted by Steve Kleber on Monday, July 25th, 2011 at 8:30 am and is filed under Green Initiatives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. I agree with the importance of acknowledging the tradeoff and always try to present the whole story when writing to consumers about green issues. I also feel that it behooves manufacturers and suppliers to be forthcoming and explain why their products are green, for two reasons: 1. the public is now more aware of the complexity of the issue, and 2. even though greenness is somewhat relative, there are differences in the net impact on the environment (although as Steve has noted, there still may be a tradeoff between local and national impacts). Great post.