Is "Green" Losing its Gleam?

As a sign of how environmental issues have gained foothold in the public conscious (for better or for worse), "green" is a word that tops Lake Superior State University's 34th annual list of words or phrases that should be banished due to their overuse.

According to the university, "'Green' and all of its variables, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions', drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year." Also doing its bit to pollute the environment of overused phrases is "carbon footprint" (or "carbon offsetting").

Perhaps "green" like "Maverick" (which also made this year's list) has become one of those words overused to the point that its meaning has been diluted. Everywhere, companies are proclaiming to be "green," but what does that mean? Sometimes, I'm confused by "green" claims, but I guess as Kermit would say, "It isn't easy being green."

Concerning carbon footprint, one submitter to the list asked, "How can we not, in one way or another, affect our natural environment?" Another submitter, Ginger Hunt of London, stated: "It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to 'offset' their own 'carbon footprint.' What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!"

If anything, what can be learned from this year's list? I think that one should be cautious in using the latest buzzword or phrase, and that those spreading the good news about their environmental accomplishments may have to be more direct in their messages.

Can you think of any words that should make the list?

Posted by Angela Nelson on Jan 15, 2009