Economy over environment

The purveyors of green recognized the their eco-conscious consumer also happens to be more affluent than average and willing to pay the price to differentiate herself…
~“Green as luxury?”

So Congress approved a plan to provide a “cash for clunkers” program for household appliances. The idea is to stimulate the economy by encouraging people to replace their “old” appliances with new “Energy Star” appliances.

Superficially, this sounds good. Newer models tend to be more energy-efficient. So, yeah, help out the economy and the environment, all in one fell swoop, right?

Unfortunately, these rebates tend to favor middle- and upper-class Americans. The people who, most likely, don’t need to be replacing their appliances.

The energy and materials that go into creating our new theoretical refrigerator may very well exceed the energy savings that one would gain by replacing it. Unfortunately, this is not a cost many people pay attention to, and certainly not one that gets passed on to the consumer. This is especially true when one is replacing a fairly recent model. Even recycling the appliance isn’t going to make it eco-friendly…I’m willing to bet that a good portion of the appliance still ends up being trashed at the end of the day.

The people who generally do need to be replacing their appliances are the ones who are still using appliances crafted in the Stone Age. The ones that were never as efficient in the first place and have since then become even more inefficient due to age and rough treatment.

It’s possible that some of these people will use the program and replace their theoretical refrigerator, but I doubt many of the people who need programs like these the most will be in a position to replace appliances during the excruciatingly small ten-day window. Not to mention the fact that it’s a mail-in rebate (so you need the full amount up front, or the ability to finance the full amount), and that these types of programs often run out of money before everyone gets the rebates. Worthwhile to those that have money, yes, but not those that actually need it.

So I’m calling the “Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program” a big load of greenwashing.

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2 Responses to “Economy over environment”

  1. Dargon Says:

    From the economic point of view, I figure it will end up doing just as much nothing as the original cash for clunkers program. All that managed to do was move people’s already planned car purchases up a few months, leaving the market completely dry after the deal was over. And because it junked many of the clunkers, it reduced used car inventory, overall having a negative effect on the car industry. While the appliance industry is much simpler, I anticipate a similar non-existent to negative effect on the economy, and very negative effect on the tax-payers.

  2. There is a possibility for changes to be made if people upgrade thier appliances and their home while intercontecting their efforts with a product like @microsofthohm.

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