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This article was published 12/2/2016 (1800 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


It’s not easy being green these days.

If this sounds like a duet between Kermit the Frog and Elizabeth May, you would not be far from the point.

There is a new colour barrier where there shouldn’t be one at all. Listen to the Internet trolls and you might think green is the new colour of privilege. Green this, green that, lots of good money wasted on greenwash to the benefit of a few who are just in it for what they can squeeze from the public purse. More green foolishness again, they trumpet at every chance.

Listen to the people working in the "green sector" and you will hear frustration over the lack of desperately needed funds. You will hear many examples of the deliberate obstructionism of people in government, business and society who are quite happy making money for themselves or keeping cushy jobs at the expense of the planet and our children’s future. For them, "green" is the colour of poverty and powerlessness.

For a sustainable future for everyone, we need to become colour-blind — at least to the colour green.

Everywhere you go, there is talk about the green economy, green jobs and green business. Go home, and there are green products, green lifestyles and green activities.

Green your workplace, green your home. Green your pets and holidays.

Concern about our common future has been taken over by a pack of demented leprechauns, scattering green everywhere and promising some pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. Want an idea for a book title that captures all of this? I am waiting for someone to publish Fifty Shades of Green!

It’s the wrong argument, undertaken for the wrong reasons and leading nowhere fast.

What would happen to the debate, the antagonism, the polarities between the two sides, if we replaced the word green with smart?

Smart really is the point. Smart businesses understand all of their costs and opportunities and work for something more than a quick dividend this quarter. Smart businesses are concerned about their employees, their communities and their customers, treating them as stakeholders rather than ignoring what is best for everyone.

A smart economy does not create a few jobs in the short term, at whatever human and environmental cost, to make the bottom line look good this year at the expense of the health of future generations. Smart politics is not just about being elected or re-elected, but about fulfilling responsibilities to all of the people, voters of today and tomorrow.

Smart workplaces create a space where people want to work, where perhaps they go home at the end of the day healthier than when they started, rather than tired, frustrated and sick.

Smart commuting means spending time wisely — perhaps just relaxing or taking a nap — rather than being stuck in foul-smelling traffic for several wasted hours a day.

Smart products do what they need to do without poisoning you or your home in the process.

Smart policies consider all the costs of not doing something, instead of just the short-term dollar figure offered for what it would cost to do something smart.

You get my point. People could still argue against being smart, that they do not want to be smart, that it costs too much money to be smart, that it is only the politically correct smart lobby forcing smart decisions down everyone’s throats.

But for once we would have a word to use for the alternative. What is the opposite of being green? Anti-green?

I’ll let you pick your own word for the opposite of smart. Feel free to translate the next anti-green comments offered by the people in your life by using that word and see how that changes the argument.

No, it’s not easy being green these days. It would be much easier if we could all just be smart.

For a change.


Peter Denton is an independent sustainability consultant. He heads the policy committee of the (Smart) Action Centre.