The Most Absurd (and Expensive) Eco-Gadgets
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Gadgets like these abound on green products Web sites. For treehuggers who are too cold, there’s the eco portable space heater, sold for $53.50 at Greenhome.com. A more sustainable option? A sweater and a hot beverage. Or there’s an electric air purifier one can buy for $599. A cheaper, more sustainable option is actually a potted plant. And for those interested in the ice and snow melting mat for $173, just wipe your feet.
It’s true that there may be places, times and situations when each of these gadgets is absolutely necessary. Perhaps a person with massive allergies truly needs an expensive electric air purifier. And a potted plant alone might not do the trick in a hospital. Sometimes, these fancy eco-gadgets are more convenient than the greener solutions. No doubt using a dryer is more convenient than hanging one’s clothes out to dry. But they are being marketed as green on sites that claim to offer green products, and for most everyday situations, they simply do not live up to that label.
Products like these drive home a question: can we consume ourselves to sustainability? And is it possible to buy sustainability without any additional effort or knowledge on our part? It’s slightly inconvenient to postpone doing laundry on rainy days if you plan to hang it to dry outside, or to manually turn a compost pile with a pitchfork. And you don’t have to remember to water your expensive electric air purifier like you do for potted plants. But the little bit of extra effort you make to hang your clothes or water your plants can save energy and ultimately keep old, broken electric gadgets out of landfills.
Being green might require a bit more knowledge too. It’s easy to simply buy an air purifier and plug it in, but using a potted plant for that purpose requires figuring out which plants purify the air and can survive in the amount of light you can provide them. You might also need to find a plant that is non-toxic to pets. And while compost piles don’t stink when you toss the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen in them, they do stink if they have too much nitrogen and too little oxygen. It’s not terribly difficult to learn how to keep your compost from stinking, but it does require more effort than plugging in an appliance.
In some cases, going green might require one to get a little more comfortable coexisting with nature. A natural setting like a garden often involves soil, bacteria, fungi, worms, bugs, and more. While some are unpleasant or even harmful, others are beneficial. If you are truly concerned about having a pile of rotting food waste in your yard, you can buy or build a compost bin that keeps rodents (and other critters) out. And if you can get over the “yuck” factor of compost, dirt, and bugs, getting your hands dirty can be fun and educational.
Each person has different circumstances, and sometimes it’s just too difficult to make one sacrifice or another in order to go green. Some people cannot get to work without a car or cannot use energy efficient fluorescent lights without getting migraines. Some people lack the space for a garden or lack access to affordable, organic food. But for those who do have the resources and the desire to go green in a big way, it appears impossible to do so without a minimum amount of knowledge and effort. Some items marketed as green might be less green than their obvious alternatives, and they might even not be green at all.