Words making the headlines – green

Trees - photo by Barney BarrettWhen is a colour not a colour? Well, when the word green appears in a new headline, it’s rarely referring to the hue of something. It that case, green means a set of beliefs or a political movement or a lifestyle.

Green, of course, is shorthand for anything to do with the natural environment and protecting that environment from damage by human activity.

Many countries have a Green Party. The members of those parties are often referred to as Greens. However, they are not the only ones who are concerned with green issues such as reducing pollution or protecting biodiversity. People who fight for these things outside traditional political systems are called green campaigners or green activists.

All of these groups campaign for the wider use of green technology which uses renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun to generate green electricity. These kinds of projects are often paid for with green investment from green banks.

Other campaigns are for people to adopt green living. There is disagreement about what this means. For some people it’s about sorting their recycling and buying local produce. For others it extends to giving up flying and becoming vegetarian or even vegan.

"Green" carMany companies are now competing for the green dollar. They do this by marketing consumer products that they claim are better for the environment that other, similar products. However, these companies are also accused of greenwashing: making exaggerated claims that their products are more environmentally-friendly than they really are.

All of this doesn’t answer the big question of whether a consumer culture can be truly green. At the end of the day, given the choice of several “environmentally-friendly”, luxury products, the greenest option is to buy none of them.


Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.


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