Greenwashing the Green Spot

A nearby gas station called the Green Spot recently opened. The prior owners (when it was a Mobil) had gas prices well above market, so I appreciate that the new owners charge the same for gas as everyone else.

But I had to suspend my gag reflex after reading greenwashing in my local community magazine (pages 24 and 25 of this 19MB PDF–yikes!). According to a quote they got from co-owner Alvaro Garza, “our mission is to reduce our carbon footprint by offering an alternative lifestyle…”

Specific examples of where carbon footprints aren’t being lowered:

  • They sell biodiesel gas, which has several flaws. Even if you could argue that these flaws could someday be resolved, the fact remains that current consumption of biofuels almost certainly causes more harm than good. For example:
    • Several studies show that production and use of biofuels produces more carbon emissions than just burning plain gas. (link)
    • It takes more energy to produce biofuels than they save, which in turn increases carbon emissions, oil importation, and our trade deficit. (link)
    • Biofuel production increases prices of food, starving the poor. (link)
  • They sell organic goods, production of which require more energy (carbon!) and land than conventional foods. (link)
  • The article’s feature picture depicts a Jeep Liberty SUV. In addition to being an iconic member of a gas guzzling class of vehicles, it has the worst or 2nd worst fuel economy in recent Consumer Reports small SUV comparisons. (The diesel raised it from worst to 2nd worst; several gas-engined SUVs with higher overall ratings got better mileage.)

    (This image stolen from Advocate Publishing.)

And it sounds like a lot of what they sell are carb-loaded snacky foods. Ladies and gentlemen, refined carbs are refined carbs. The refined carbs from organic sugar cane and fresh fruit juices make you just as fat and unhealthy (and ultimately requiring more carbon-intensive health care services) as the corn syrup in Coke.

You may think I hate the Green Spot. I don’t. It’s convenient, gas prices are finally fair at that location, and they have neat stuff inside. I want them to succeed.

However, I was brought up in a home where the breadwinner toiled for and was employed by a nonprofit. I work with a couple of nonprofits. I value nonprofits. They deserve our charity; supporting them achieves a higher moral purpose.

I resent when for-profits steal altruism for their own personal gain, and that’s what’s going on with greenwashing the Green Spot. Support the Green Spot where they provide a value to you, but don’t do it because you think you’re fulfilling some higher purpose. You’re not.

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