What does it all mean?
As decades upon decades have passed, and machinery and technologies have developed, so too has the impact to the environment and the desire for appropriate action to help protect the world’s natural resources. We’re already seeing this in our everyday lives – from green cleaning products to green appliances, there pretty much isn’t a household product that hasn’t donned the green moniker.
However, in industry, terms like sustainability and clean energy are used along with green. How then does one know the difference between green and clean? And does it matter if it’s all part of ‘going green’ anyway?
The answer lies in the type of energy source. Being “green” is an overarching term that is often used in American marketing. Anything can be green so long as it leaves a smaller environmental footprint than its predecessor (such as recycling). The technology itself could still be creating a pollutant, but by lessening the end pollutant, it is then green.
Clean technology is a somewhat newer term. For a technology to be “clean” it must have zero emissions, or emit a product that is not harmful to the environment. Fuel cells, a relatively new technology, produce an emission; the emission is water vapor, which is neutral and safe – and therefore clean.
Does it matter if a technology is green or clean, if they both are better for the environment? Yes, it very much does. For example, there are now more environmentally friendly car purchasing options than ever before, many utilizing the newest and most environmentally safe technologies. Electric cars powered by the national grid using fossil fuels are green. While they provide a less net pollution than a gas-powered car, they still add a pollutant because of the type of energy being harnessed, and the unsustainability of it. Solar power is a sustainable energy source, so electric cars charged on solar are a clean technology. Cars run by fuel cells, which are powered by hydrogen and natural gasses, are a clean technology as well, because the emission does not have a negative environmental impact.
Scientific data and environmental guidelines back continuing to evolve the world’s conservation efforts and helps us to produce and consume technologies that align with the core environmental responsibility of going green. The movement to ‘go green’ will continue to develop and change, progressing forward as the manufacturing and technology of daily life also changes. Perhaps it is fair to ask if going green will become more clean than green?