An Ops Executive’s Green Thoughts

My parents bought a new home in the late 1960s that was decked out in the hippest color scheme of the day, avocado green. The carpet was green, the appliances were green– even the accent wall color was green. Truly, it was like living in a wonderful jungle; albeit an artificial one. But the color scheme meant more that just being fashionable; it meant status! It meant that we were fresh, smart, cool and a part of the new suburban movement.

At first, living the green life was great. But we soon discovered that the deep, brooding color reigned over us. Green was here and it meant business! It did not like most of the other colors and therefore limited the pallet of the home. The green carpet was extremely jealous and would not allow any new furniture into the home without its approval. The green appliances held the kitchen drapes and accessories hostage, while the accent wall color ridiculed anything that attempted to clash with it. To our horror, we found that we were living in a self-imposed green prison.

And so the battle began. We fought back by removing the carpet, bringing in white appliances, and updating the paint. Although it took two years and wrecked havoc on the family budget, we escaped from the prison; weary but certainly wiser to the cult of fashion.

Without doubt, the color green is en vogue again, this time on a global scale and as individuals and companies alike, we fear being labeled as not part of the movement. Our businesses have attempted to leverage our adoption of green principles by touting to our customers how we print our catalogs on recycled paper, we don’t use polystyrene packing peanuts, we do recycle our cardboard, we utilize automated HVACs, and we’ve improved our green spaces to reduce our sooty carbon footprints.

Unfortunately, green now means more than being a good steward of our resources; it means control. It means regulation. It means power. And, it means money. As we all know, the green movement has taken a life of its own and it is labeled as a jealous and green-eyed monster. The movement has become so powerful that is transcends nations, political parties, and often, common sense. Those scientists, business and political leaders that challenge any facts or myths related to the green movement are simply and swiftly discounted as money hungry and evil ostriches.

As a nation we are quickly succumbing to a paranoia that is so intense that we are fostering an environment of hyper-regulation where it is often not feasible to manufacture, produce petroleum products, farm, or harvest our own renewable raw materials. In essence, we are laying a green carpet to abdicate these efforts to other countries. Ironically, most these countries have far less regulation than the U.S. and ultimately do more environmental harm than had we sourced our efforts domestically.

Our policies are becoming more radical and controlling daily. Today, we regulate the size of toilets and see that the incandescent light will soon be darkened. Tomorrow, it is foreseeable that our policies are controlled more by international bodies through treaties and trade organizations thus lessening our national autonomy. We will see the size and frequencies of our shipments being limited, suffer from back-breaking taxes on fuel, and increased mandates on product content.

So, as with my parents’ old home, we find ourselves in a self-imposed green prison: an unruly jungle-like quagmire of pseudo-science, conjecture, fear mongering, and celebrity endorsement. We did so by not managing our resources effectively, not having sound policies in place, and by not having sufficient sense to realize that we live on a wonderful and ever-changing planet. The challenge to us all is, how do we strike the right balance between stewardship of our home and need to serve our customers?

Randall Brough is supply chain manager for Nashville, TN-based LifeWay Christian Resources, which sells Biblical books and videos through print catalogs, online, and in more than 130 stores nationwide.