Saturday, April 4, 2009

Misconceptions of Cleanliness

I would like to dispel a common misconception about cleanliness which has unnecessary environmental and health impacts. We are inclined to associate the color white with cleanliness. Now, initially that seems fairly innocent. However, this misconception leads to the bleaching of nearly all paper products, from paper plates to toilet paper to diapers. And this otherwise unnecessary bleaching process produces some very harsh chemicals as by-products. Not the least of these is Dioxin, or polychlorinated dibenzodioxins to be exact, which cause birth defects, cancer (you knew that was coming) and other ailments. The worst part about these chemicals is that they build up quickly in the food chain and they aren't naturally metabolized. A large portion of the dioxin produced and released into the environment is used only to satisfy (and perpetuate?) our inaccurate misconception that white = clean.

Many of our activities cause environmental damage. Driving around in my '93 Honda releases all kinds of terrible stuff; but at least I get the clear benefit of fast, convenient travel in exchange. The "benefit" of having our paper stuff artificially colored white doesn't seem worth the environmental impact it creates.

Other misconceptions in a similar vein often lead to inaccurate judgments. For example, deformed/dark/black = evil and beautiful/proportionate = good (reality TV should have dispelled this one). There are others, I imagine.

Anyhow, all that to say maybe part of going green is going brown.

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