Green Statistics Deliver Half the Story?

This isn’t about whether the green arguments are correct. It’s a look behind some recent statistics which only deliver half the payload of relevant information.

Statistic 1 – Energy Saving Lightbulbs will Reduce Energy Consumption

Seems pretty incontrovertible on the surface but it just takes a little thought to identify some of the weaknesses in the statement.

  • The lightbulbs give out less light so people will want several bulbs to get adequate light levels. As well as increasing the running energy, there’s an increase in manufacturing energy for more bulbs and multi-bulb fitments.
  • The bulbs don’t fit many existing units so these will be scrapped. Landfill disposal requirement and manufacturing and logistics energy costs for new fitments.
  • There are no arrangements in place for safe disposal of dead bulbs, although they pose a greater risk than traditional bulbs.
  • Light levels reduce with bulb age, creating increased energy demand for replacements.
  • Low light levels at switch-on. Think of increasing numbers of elderly tripping in badly lit passages. And the DeliveryDemon encountered a low energy bulb on a timer in a dark-painted loo. Not conducive to a hygienic environment, and resulting in increased use of cleaning products.
  • Bulbs cannot be dimmed, resulting in a potential increased fire risk as those seeking romantic light levels choose candles.

Statistic 2 – There’s a Reduction in the Number of Plastic Bags

There’s less to challenge here than in the case of lightbulbs, as far as the DeliveryDemon knows 🙂 but there’s still more to the story than meets the eye.

  • Not much publicity has been given to the production volumes and environmental costs of the ‘bags for life’ which retailers are selling us to replace plastic bags.
  • How many shoppers buy bags for life because they forget to bring one of the heap of bags building up in the house or the car?
  • How many shoppers wouldn’t have bought a new bag for life when they already had one, if the supermarkets had big reminder notices in their car parks?
  • How many wouldn’t request plastic bags if they had the opportunity to remember bags for life before they get to the checkout?
  • How many special-purpose bags and containers are being manufactured because there’s no longer a supply of free plastic bags for things like poop-scooping, storing muddy boots and trainers…..

While the headline statistics may have a degree of validity, they only deliver half the story. The above statistics put an overly positive spin on what’s happening. And the DeliveryDemon knows that delivering the sugar without the medicine is more likely to result in an attack of toothache than a cure.

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