Seen to be green
'I love Hong Kong! I love green!' was the slogan in a series of government publicity programmes promoting greener lifestyle a few years back. This idea has been continued in the recent local green tide demaning a better environment.
The word 'green' has become a fashion - green can sell. Green products and services, no matter how green they really are, help instil psychological comfort into people's minds when they buy them. Now it appears that even a small bit of green can boost a company's social profile as a fulfilment of its corporate social responsibility.
Companies are advocating simpler food packaging, using electrical appliances with greater energy efficiency and optimising air-conditioning in their offices. These are environmentally-friendly moves in terms of resources and energy saving. They are indeed doing some good, but companies should be cautiously viewed as a whole before we raise our hands in applause.
We should not hear of banks glorifying their conversion of mailing monthly bills to e-statements as a green achievement on one hand, while delivering mass circulars to all households advertising mortgage products on the other.
Such two-faced practices only raise questions about a company's pledge to go green. Consumers sooner or later recognise such hypocrisy, which only damages a company's image.
There are many cases of probable environmental damage in the name of going green. The feverish rush to buy bags tagged 'I am not a plastic bag' displayed how people can overreact to the trend of eco-luxury. This seeking of prestige, which caused unnecessary consumption of these bags, sent a message that was the opposite of the meaning of going green.
Property developers in the New Territories recently caused an outcry when they laid out plans for 'green' low-rise country villas and eco-friendly hotels.
What caused offence was the impact on ecologically sensitive bird and marine habitats during construction.
Green rural development should not be judged too quickly as a good thing before proper assessment can be made on a project's environmental impact.
While we must be careful not to be misled by the 'greenwashing' practices of some companies, it's still important to maintain our own desire to stay green in our daily lives.
If the public holds these values strongly, and is more environmentally aware, then companies will think twice before adopting misleading green policies.
It will also encourage businesses to devote more resources to developing environmentally-friendly products and services, not simply using the green theme as an advertising gimmick.