Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green Scamming

By Alan Caruba

Let’s say you’re planning to contract with a lawn service to tend to your property this spring. To put it simply, you want to hire a firm to mow the lawn. Time was, you could hire a neighborhood kid to do it, but now none of them will consider this or shoveling snow as a means to put some extra change in their pocket.

So consider the news release I just received. “Clean Air Lawn Care is Eliminating its Carbon Footprint by Measuring, Reducing, and Offsetting Emissions.”

I submit to you that anyone who hires this firm because they are spending time maintaining an “emissions inventory” or purchasing “renewable energy credits and emissions offsets” might well consider hiring Al Gore to mow their lawn.

There is an impolite term for what this “environmentally friendly lawn service” is offering. Hiring them means you are going to be paying more for the privilege of knowing they are using “clean electric mowers, edgers and blowers” as well as “biodiesel powered trucks and mobile solar panels used to charge equipment in the field.”

Anyone who seriously thinks that the act of having one’s lawn mowed or hedges clipped has anything to do with saving the world from global warming deserves to pay as much as these guys can get.

This is a classic green scam, a marketing ploy to differentiate this lawn service firm from its competitors.

“The majority of Clean Air’s footprint results from the electricity used in lawn care equipment,” said the release. Assuming they are getting it from solar power, you are still paying for the solar gadgetry needed to accomplish this magic. If, on the other hand, they are just plugging the machinery into a socket at their headquarters at night, the odds are that the electricity was generated by coal, gas or nuclear power. On overcast days, filled with clouds, their solar power will not be worth spit.

And what does it matter where the electricity comes from so long as they come on time, mow your lawn, and move onto the next sucker? Do you really care that they are “purchasing green power in the form of Green-e certified renewable energy credits”? Does it matter that the cost of these “credits” is going to be factored into your bill along with the time and labor required to mow your lawn? It should.

I’m not saying don’t hire these guys. They probably can do as good a job as the next five lawn care service providers in their market area, but please spare me the greener-than-thou pitch.

Apply this standard to anyone else that comes along promising to save the planet while painting your house, resurfacing your driveway, putting in a new toilet, or any one of the myriad other household needs that will lighten your wallet.

Do not, under any circumstances, spend thousands installing solar panels on your roof. You will be long dead and your home sold several times before that little investment begins to pay off.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"You will be long dead and your home sold several times before that little investment begins to pay off."

... If it ever begins.