As I was taking a shower after working out today, my shampoo bottle inspired me to think about Jenn Tobler’s blog about “natural shampoo” and how being “green” and/or “natural” doesn’t always mean “better”. In regards to the specific instance of shampoo, I would like to point out that “conventional” shampoo (and other hygiene products) companies spend millions of dollars a year on research and development into what works best. Obviously they do this so that they can say “we have the best product” with the goal that by being “the best” they will sell more of their product. Using logic one would come to the conclusion that if in fact “natural recipe” shampoos, like the baking soda – vinegar method, are better than “conventional” shampoos, at least one company would have bottled it up and placed it on the shelf for you purchasing pleasure as “the best shampoo for your hair”. Since I don’t know of any company that has, my conclusion is that it is not. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re buying the cheapest shampoo you can buy at the store, this may be better, because companies like Suave don’t have the goal of being the best, their goal is to be the cheapest, but Redken, and other “salon” lines want to be the best.
Too many people get sucked in to doing something because they think it is the natural or green thing to do (which is the in thing now, remember when we called these people crunchy, or granola heads?), but in many case they are wrong. Case in point, Leonardo DeCaprio and other Hollywood stars (as well as many average citizens) that drive a Toyota Prius. These people buy this car not for fuel economy, but because they believe that by doing so, they are helping to protect the environment, and they are dead wrong. The carbon footprint of a Toyota Prius is huge. One has to drive the Prius over 46,000 miles to “pay off the carbon debt” created by the manufacture off the car. This “carbon debt” is created by the fact that the nickel used to make the batteries is mined in Canada (the process itself is energy heavy and creates a “dead zone”), the nickel is then sent off to a refinery in Europe and then off to China and finally it ends up in finished form in Japan. Then if you buy the car in the USA, it is shipped once again around to us. Not to mention when the batteries and/or the car itself reach then end of their usefulness they have to be disposed of, creating even more environmental problems.
Then you have to account for driving style, as it accounts to actual fuel economy. The British car show Top Gear did a test where they drove a Prius as fast as it could go on their test track, and had another driver following in the 420 hp V8 BMW M3 whose job was to simply keep up with the Prius. The results were that the Prius garnered a whopping 17.2 mpg, and the M3 19.4. Granted, if you drove the Prius gently it would smoke the M3 in mileage, but I personally haven’t seen a ton of Prius drivers that actually do that, many of them drive their cars harder than I drive mine (which is saying something). If you really want to be green in your car purchase there are many cars that fit that bill that do not include “Hybrid” in their names. Many get close to the same mileage, without the negative environmental effect of the batteries. You could purchase a Smart Car, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla, VW Jetta TDI (diesel), Chevy Aveo, and many more. If you want to go really green, you should buy a used cars as suggested in this article in Wired.