J500 Media and the Environment

The Color of Money by jasonmer
New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

Do you want to save your environment or do you want to save your money?

Depending on your answer to this question you will find the answer to your shade of green.  Like many concepts in life we operate on a linear continuum of advocacy or disparagement.  Intersecting at the middle of the “green continuum” you will find two competing points of influence—they are green and green value.  Movement either direction from this fulcrum demonstrates the influence of money on your green identity.  Beliefs, sacrifice, and the ability to stand alone are variables as well.

Green is a belief system not rooted in financial gain or loss.  Our modern foundation for green was born in the early 1960’s with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.  Man’s coexistence with nature versus man’s disdains for the costly nuisances and need to control nature were at odds.  Money mattered then.

Green is an ideal built on sacrifice.  If being green was simultaneously undemanding, straightforward, and relevant more people would be inclined to engage themselves with green ideals.  Ironically we are culturally adept at sacrifice.  Failure to adopt green strategies has allowed climate change and loss of biodiversity to be sacrificed for future generations – they are the inconsequential pawns in a catatonic chess game with the planet.  Money mattered then.

Green is lonely.  Dialogue around environmental responsibility is analogous to a politician running an election campaign.  Corporate leadership on the environment takes a profit first and beliefs later strategy.  Environmentalist in the dell…the green stands alone.  Money mattered then.

Green isn’t the color of money.

 I am not green.  I respect and admire the self discipline required to be green — over the last two weeks my perspective on green has changed and it is a title worth having and pursuing in its purest form. 

Jason Merckling


4 Comments so far
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Jason, I enjoyed your post. I am compelled to respond to your provocative opening question and your positioning of the green continuum. Saving the environment and saving money are not mutually exclusive.

Simple consumer examples:
-baking soda and vinegar are elements of great home remedies and home cleaners
-a salt water gargle will help a sore throat as much as an over-the-counter pharmacy solution
-weatherstripping and hot water heater blankets are inexpensive and provide real savings on energy costs

I agree that straightforward “green” will lead to a greater level of engagement. I assert that a key issue is confusion or green noise. The political posturing in government contributes to the noise. Without clear, compelling data and thoughtful personal analysis we won’t see progress.

My call to action – We vote with our dollars as consumers and investors. We vote with our actions. We vote at the polls. Let’s vote.

Check out the links below to see what happened on the Hill today (first link) and to get an overview of the Bill.


Comment by Margaretec

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the response. I also don’t believe saving money and saving the environment are mutually exclusive. I believe that you can operate on a continuum and still have examples that you share in common with the opposite end of the continuum (all though they should be few). You can find examples everywhere for this argument. You see it in our own political system along the conservative and liberal continuum. For example, in the House approved legislation you referenced there were Democrats that actually voted against the energy bill. Interestingly their reason was to protect their constituent interests. Those interests…coal.


In a November 2007 article from BBC News they interviewed 22,000 people in 21 countries. 70% of those polled said they were ready make personal sacrifices and change their lifestyle style to combat climate change. A key finding showed that respondents were split when it came to a tax increase on oil and coal. Sounds like money influenced their “greenness”. It is important to note that if the extra tax dollars were pushed towards increasing efficiency and exploring new energy sources more would be in acceptance of the tax. The article failed to state how many more though, and that makes me skeptical.


Thus, my point was simply that if you are on the green end of the continuum money is a very unlikely influence on your green ideals. Not to say that examples don’t exist where you use green products that actually cost less. Ultimately the reason for using them was likely not due to cost but for environmental reasons. The cost savings was icing on the cake.

I would not consider myself green but I am working towards this goal. My current examples include:

1) Hormone free milk. It comes in glass bottles that I lug back to the store during our weekly grocery runs. The milk comes in half gallon bottles. It costs nearly double a conventional gallon of milk.

2) I have purchased the more costly bulbs for my house. I am hoping for cost savings in the long run but I didn’t think of that when I bought them. The light is yellow and dimmer. It isn’t as good as what I had been used to in the past. That’s O.K. though.

3) We purchase organic locally grown produce. It is more expensive and time consuming to acquire. We go to the farmers market. They are only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

4) I planted herbs (perennial), blueberry bushes (perennial), grapes (perennial), and vegetables (some perennial) in my yard. I targeted hearty and low water usage plants. They cost more. They were more difficult to find. In addition, I used organic food and plant starter materials. They cost more as well.

I hope that I made the case for money as an influence on a person’s green identity. I truly believe that saving money is not the ultimate goal for someone that is green but rather the icing on the cake.

Jason Merckling

Comment by jasonmer

Your post is what worries me about the “green” movement. Everyone needs to see opportunities to do what they can and call it what they want. For example, giving unused toys away at a garage sale or to charity is green. It is also just nice. Using a drink mug instead of a paper or syrofoam cup is green and cost-saving.

I hope the green movement finds a way to have room for everyone because it will take everyone to implement change.
–Holly Eitel

Comment by hollyee

I know for me, the issue of sacrifice is personal, not global. It’s selfish, but when I am the one feeling the pain of sacrifice (rather than the polar bears) is when it becomes more real to me.

Comment by Cindy Olsen

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