Green AND Sustainable; not Green OR Sustainable

Guest blog by Stan Seelig, Seelig and Associates

To Be or Not To Be; To Be Green OR Sustainable or To Be Green AND Sustainable; which ever be cheaper or more profitable!

I am an Industrial Chemist. Over the last 30 years, I have seen relatively green chemicals come and go. Chemicals safe for you and me that destroyed the ozone layer were replaced by others that were more toxic to you and me. Chemicals that contribute to global warming are being reduced or eliminated for safer processes. The safest chemical of all kills more people than any other. More people drown, slip, crash and die from the various forms of water. The time has come to know the life cycle of all chemicals from cradle to grave.

But today we have become a global environment. Where every family in the USA could own a car, not every family in the world could afford one, whether financially or environmentally. Green Chemistry has been the buzz word for many in the Cleantech environments but green does not always imply sustainable. Green Chemistry in the USA means we can dump millions of gallons of drinking water down the drain. Hey, we can flush our human waste down the drain with drinking water. Imagine how those in the other parts of the world feel who have trouble getting clean, drinkable water!

And we complain about our wastewater streams overflowing. Laundry, dishwasher and toilets use over 50% of a home owner’s usage of clean, fresh water. What was possible in the past will not be possible in the future. Closed-looped processes must be incorporated into our way of life. This means either we recover the water from our wastes personally or we change the process. No more should we take the water from the river, treat it, use it, treat it and dump it back in for someone downstream to follow the same procedure.

We, as a people, must take advantage of rain/sleet/snow from the sky even if its just to wash our cars or water our lawns. Prices are going up. Water will be the next oil. We need to learn to be Green AND Sustainable for future generations. We pat ourselves on the back sometimes but on a global basis, we are losing the war to protect the environment. This is a nation of great ideas…we need to implement those ideas to save the world…even from itself!

3 replies
  1. Thomas Electriccar
    Thomas Electriccar says:

    Your totally right. Water is most essential to all of us but we use it (at leat in the western contries) as if there are no limitations and won´t ever be. Yet its hard to understand this issue if you just have to open the water tap to get fresh water. And its still way to cheap as well as energy for example. When you are affluent the only way is an artificial shortage by rising prices.

  2. David
    David says:

    There are always issues with campaigns such as this one. I think they are trying to say that green chemistry will prevent chemicals from being thrown down the drain and instead they will be processed into clean water.
    Ask David

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