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Bamboo In Green Marketing

More and more companies are cluing into the fact that we need more green and renewable alternatives for consumer goods and manufacturing.  As eco-friendliness becomes better for business and a more widely recognized social responsibility, a lot of existing products are changing to accommodate it.

Due to the ease of sourcing and growing it, as well as its incredible versatility, bamboo is high on the list of materials that are being adopted toward that end.  Depending on the way that it’s processed, the same material can replace both hard plastics and bamboo clothing.  And not only is that material practical for businesses to use, it’s one that a certain class of consumers are sure to respond to.

Framing PR in Green

Perhaps having that idea in mind, TexVisions, a maker of marketing displays, has recently begun offering bamboo versions of some of its products.  The environmentally beneficial material now serves to replace fiberglass, plastic, and aluminum that had ordinarily made up holders for signs, presentations, and informational pamphlets.

What’s good for TexVisions and good for the planet is also good for any environmentally friendly company that uses those marketing displays.  The bamboo alternatives can be attractive and eye-catching, and add to the public image created by the advertisement itself.  If your company is making a strong effort to go green and you want your customers to be aware of that fact, then you might want to pay attention not only to what advertising you display, but how you display it.

Completing the Picture

If a company is trying to model itself as a good steward of the Earth, discerning consumers might notice if their green PR campaign is framed in environmentally unfriendly plastic.  In addition to replacing that, a really conscientious company could complete the image by printing its green-themed advertisement on recycled paper or organic fabric.  Or it could even make bamboo a motif all the way through, and fill the eco-friendly display with bamboo paper signs or viscose-from-bamboo cloth.

Better yet, a public advertisement can be both eco-friendly and impervious to the elements by being made out of Eco-Leather.  Whatever choice a company makes in presenting itself to the public, there is certainly no reason to claim that its choices for environmentally sound practices are limited.  They are diverse, and they are growing.

Attention to Detail

This goes to show how far the need for renewables and green resources extends.  For individuals and organizations alike, true commitment to the environment isn’t just a matter of improving on the most visible procedures and products; it’s about paying attention to the little things.

Both the decision to offset its own carbon footprint and the decision of where to display its literature can say something about a company and its priorities.  Similarly, for the private consumer, both the car you drive to work and the sheets you sleep in at night can say something about you.

Global Warming And American Corn

We should all hope that the forecasts for today and early next week are accurate.  Parts of the Midwest are expected to finally get significant rainfall, and if they do it will be an answer to fervent prayers for some farmers.  Whatever respite from the heat the region does see, it will certainly not be sufficiently widespread, and in the areas that do acquire a little moisture it remains to be seen whether it will be enough and whether it will have come early enough to same imperiled crops.

US corn may be in serious trouble.  The Department of Agriculture’s projections for yields have already diminished by twenty bushels per acre, and prices are up a remarkable thirty-seven percent since the beginning of June.  The newly forecasted rain is so desperately needed because much of the region had virtually no precipitation for six weeks, coupled with unusually searing temperatures.  The heat is actually expected to worsen even as rain trickles into parts of the area in the coming days.

This drought is apparently the worst since 1988, and it came at a time when the corn crop was particularly vulnerable and would ordinarily be pollinating.  While many farmers are necessarily remaining hopeful of a turnaround, some growers and other observers are anticipating a tremendous shock to the agriculture market.

There’s a rather tightly woven tapestry of problems at hand here that could, in the worst case scenario, turn a feedback loop into an incredibly vicious cycle.  The threat of drought and debilitating heat is made worse by global warming, while a lack of biodiversity makes it more difficult to combat that growing problem by natural means.

Meanwhile, our lack of biodiversity means the failure of one crop could be crippling to much of the market for food.  The situation of our reliance on corn has, in the past, been compared to Ireland prior to the potato famine.  Our dependence on corn alone may be less obvious on account of how many manufactured goods we use, but corn is a base ingredient in about seventy-five percent of grocery items.  Substantially reduced corn yields mean higher prices of pretty much everything an American family needs.  In fact, if you notice a drop in meat prices in the short term, it means that a lack of corn feed has sent many animals prematurely to slaughter, so prices will rise next year when cattle is in short supply.

We need more biodiversity in the United States.  Heavily subsidized corn and soy crops help to keep food prices low, but only as long as American agriculture faces no serious difficulties.  If it does, it can be catastrophic, leaving us little to fall back on.  And the threat of catastrophe grows worse with every year that global warming goes on virtually unchecked.  We can find smarter, more forward-thinking ways of promoting food security in this country, and we can be similarly forward-thinking when it comes to the security of the global climate

I large tracts of corn fail to grow – and right now on some farms bare soil remains where the land should be covered in green growth – then not only does that mean a hungrier population in coming months, it also means there is that much less carbon dioxide that has been drawn out of the atmosphere.  Every significant crop failure is also a failure of the natural barriers to global warming, and as that problem worsens, the problems faced this year by the agriculture market run a greater risk of returning in coming years.

Increased biodiversity ought to be part of a comprehensive approach to climate progress and food production, which includes a fallback plan for potential problems in both areas.  A more diverse American diet would be to our great benefit, if it could be made affordable to all.  But that aside, a greater overall diversity of agriculture, focusing on fast growing crops and high oxygen production could have a crucially positive impact on climate in future years.

Planting more bamboo in areas with a different climate from the Midwest, such as the Southeast and the Mississippi valley, could more than make up for the deficiencies in oxygen production left in the wake of large die-offs of staple crops like corn.  That bamboo would produce two-thirds more oxygen than even an equivalent number of trees, as well as regenerating with incredible speed after being harvested for any number of commercial applications, like construction, home gardening, and bamboo clothing.

Ultimately, the agricultural and consumer practices that we rely on for those sorts of goods have an impact on how much we can rely on the crops that we need for our food production.  As it stands, we may not be able to rely on corn because we certainly can’t rely on the weather.  So by all means, pray for rain, but work for biodiversity.

Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose: Wedding Gowns Find Second Life!
June is the month for brides so does that make July the month for bridal leftovers?  Even the most eco-friendly wedding will still have some items waiting to be stored, reused or recycled, namely the wedding gown.  Modern brides are certainly choosing more sustainable materials such as bamboo, hemp and organic cotton.  Many are even choosing to be vintage brides and wear classic styles of dresses.

For the bride-now-wife not storing their dress and who cannot truly recycle their dress, here are some options on what to do with a wedding gown:

Trash that Dress:  While the idea is outlandish, it is become a hugely popular wedding trend to find creative ways to destroy wedding gowns.  Brides are doing everything from running through the mud, starting food fights at their receptions and even turning themselves into a canvas for their guests to paint.  However, while this may give a bride something to do with her dress, the destruction of a dress still takes the path to trash and landfill.

Repurpose a  Gown:  After its special day, give the gown new life by tailoring it into a cocktail gown, evening gown or even a sweet nightgown.  If the dress has beading, embellishments or sashes, consider picking those out and using them to accessorize existing outfits.  For more versatility, remember that the dress doesn’t need to be white anymore – have some fun dying it!

Donate a Gown:  Share a special dress for someone else’s special day.  Goodwill, the I Do Foundation, the Bridal Garden and Brides Against Breast Cancer all accept wedding gown donations to benefit local brides or local charities. If you have an active community or school theater nearby, consider donating the gown to their costume department.  Or contact a local boutique to see if they know of a bride in need.

Get Crafty:  Good with a needle and thread?  Turn a wedding gown into a wedding quilt, a ring pillow for future generation’s weddings or into a christening gown for the family that follow the wedding.  Or be like my mother who turned her gown into fabulous curtains for the home – get practical and create a dust ruffle, bedspread, tablecloth or purse from the gown.  Some brides have even turned dresses into Christmas Tree skirts to make married holidays more memorable!

Resale, Recoup:  Weddings are expensive so why not earn a little cash back for a gown?  Sell a gently used gown to local boutiques, consignment stores or secondhand clothing shops.  Or look online to ebay or RecycledBride to find a buyer.

Bamboo Cocktail Recipe
While enjoying  a summer berry cocktail, consider adding another recipe to your bar repertoire.  While it does not actually contain bamboo, the cocktail more than likely derives its name from the surroundings of its origins.  Created in the 1890’s in Yokohama, Japan by Louis Eppinger, this variation on the martini is an excellent pre-dinner drink.  Eppinger was famous in his time for making the Grand Hotel a famous watering hole and many of his recipes made their way to the States eventually.  This one mysteriously became known as “Boston Bamboo.”

Here’s what you need to mix your Bamboo Cocktail:

    1 ½ oz dry vermouth
    1 ½ oz sherry
    2 dashes orange bitters
    2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
    Lemon twist
    Olive (for garnish)

Here’s how to mix your Bamboo Cocktail:

    Pour the vermouth and sherry into a mixing glass filled with ice.
    Add the bitters.
    Stir well.
    Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
    Twist the lemon peel over the drink.
    Garnish with the olive.

Add some actual bamboo to your meal with a refreshing summer salad or grilled bamboo.  Visit Bamboo Flavors for the recipes!

Fourth Of July Bamboo Sale!

Every holiday has their traditions.  Christmas with the trees; Thanksgiving with the turkey and while each holiday differs, one thing remains the same, the holiday sale.  We are a country of consumers after all.  Green Earth Bamboo is celebrating this hot holiday by offering 10% of EVERYTHING in the store and with temperatures reaching 100+ in most areas of the country, there’s no better time than now to indulge in lightweight, comfortable bamboo clothing!  (Use the coupon code FOURTH12 at check-out).

And as we celebrate the Fourth, what about the traditions that make this holiday so unique?

Why is the flag red, white and blue?

There is no official record on why these bright colors were chosen however in 1782 the Congress of the Confederation chose the same three colors for the Great Seal of the United States:  white to represent purity and innocence; red to represent valor and hardiness and blue to represent vigilance, perseverance and justice.  In a more poetic description, according to legend, George Washington saw the colors of the flag this way:  the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes as a symbol of secession from the home country.

Why were the stars originally in a circle?

While the stars are too numerous to remain in a circle now, the original representatives of the 13 colonies (states) were in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another.  George Washington reportedly said, “Let the 13 stars in a circle stand as a new constellation in the heavens.”

Why do we shoot fireworks?

It’s an odd combination of spark and heat for a summertime event. However, we shoot off fireworks because of the phrase “the bombs bursting in air,” from the Star-Spangled Banner.  However, our national anthem was written 38 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence which is the origin of our Fourth of July.
The real reason that we shoot off fireworks is because of a letter Founding Father John Adams wrote.  In it he said that Independence Day “will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America…It will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [performances], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forevermore.”

Mix yourself a cocktail, throw some bamboo on the grill and enjoy this Fourth of July!

Bamboo Growing Among Paper Manufactures

As part of a larger sustainability effort, Kimberly-Clark, the parent company behind Kleenex, Cottonelle, and Scott Tissue, recently partnered with Mount Vernon, Washington bamboo grower Booshoot, in order to develop toilet tissue that consists of 20 percent bamboo fiber.  The project says much about the valuable commitments of corporations in the modern world, the versatility of bamboo, and the future of the crop in America and throughout the world.

The fact that the world’s largest toilet tissue manufacturer would seek out bamboo as a supplementary material for their products goes to show how diverse that resource’s uses are.  In its natural state, it is strong enough to be used in building construction, but properly processed, it is soft enough to be used for bath tissue, or for clothing, linens, and towels.  Along with the benefit of sustainability, that is presumably why Kimberly-Clark has already been selling 10 percent bamboo bath tissue in the United Kingdom.

In that case, however, the bamboo is being imported from China.  The ecological benefits are mitigated by the carbon footprint associated with such long-distance transportation.  This may not always be the case.  We’ve reported on the growth of bamboo in Scotland, which goes to show that it’s possible to develop local sources for that resource in most any market.  That certainly will be the case for Kimberly-Clark’s North American production, since Booshoot is fully equipped to provide sufficient bamboo for such large-scale producers.

The Washington area company already produces some ten million bamboo plants each year.  The usual challenge with bamboo consists of establishing the crop in the first place.  It takes years to progress from seedling to maturity, but once it reaches that point its growth rate and regeneration after harvest tend to make the payoff well worth the investment.  But Booshoot has overcome the initial drawback by pioneering a process for creating new plants from clippings of mature bamboo.  Their work is similar to research that we reported as coming out of India last autumn.

With the help of this process, which produces usable bamboo in only five or six months, Booshoot founder and CEO Jackie Heinricher hopes to make headway into the forestry market.  The plants from her Mount Vernon greenhouse could create the basis for bamboo growing operations in the American Southeast, which is especially suitable for the crop and which is already the location of 30 million acres of pine trees that provide much of the pulp and paper needed for the US market.

Booshoot’s quick establishment of massive quantities of domestic bamboo promises to create a sustainable supply chain for American companies if Kimberly-Clark’s agreement with them sets the stage for other such investments.  The bath tissue manufacturer, for its part, intends to reduce its use of wood fiber by half in the next twelve years or so.  In the most recent year, it consumed 750,000 metric tons.

With more awareness of ecological concerns and a rising tide of consumer demands, this trajectory towards sustainability can be expected to continue not just for Kimberly-Clark but for many other large corporations as well.  As it does, the resources and entrepreneurs that will make that transition possible are already taking their places in the American market.

From Garden To Glass: Organic Berries Make Sweet Summer Cocktails

Long summer evenings, patios softly lit, a grill cooking up dinner, and the plucking of sweet berries and fresh herbs from your organic garden.  To top off a wonderful night, take those berries and herbs and make your organic cocktails straight from the garden!  (Well everything but the alcohol that is.)

Organic gardening is more common than trendy these days.  Some tips on growing healthy organic berries include:

Use raised beds:  It’s easier to maintain and guarantee organic mixes in raised beds.  And for berries in particular, raised beds allow you to really work in root-pleasing organic mixes that help them flourish. Try an organic mix of 2 parts garden soil/2 parts chopped, composted leaves/2 parts coarse builder’s sand (no beach or sandbox sand!)/1 part compost.  Raised beds also allow gardeners to keep a consistent moisture level and berries need good drainage!

Use caffeine:  Coffee grounds in the garden bed help keep berries healthy by keeping the soil on the acidic side.  If you’re not a coffee drinker, tuck tea bags into the soil instead.

Mulching:  Acid loving plants, like berries, will appreciate a thick layer of pine needles.  Apply to your raised beds in the fall and as they decompose, their acid will deposit in the soil.

Keep the birds away:  Not to sound stingy but you don’t want to share too much of your goodies with the birds in your garden. Consider bird-netting if you have a real issue.

Pruning is a must:  Just like our hair grows back healthier after a trim, so will berries grow stronger with regular pruning.  For a single crop, simply cut off all the old canes at ground level when they are done fruiting.

Visit Green Earth News again next week for tips on growing organic herbs!  In the meantime, treat yourself to an organic summer cocktail like Country Thyme:


    1 ½ oz organic vodka
    A handful (10 – 15) fresh blueberries or blackberries
    ½ oz fresh organic lemon, cut into small pieces
    ½ oz organic agave nectar
    3 sprigs fresh thyme

To make

    Place berries and lemon into a mixing cup.  Muddle to juice both.
    Add vodka, agave nectar and ice.
    Shake vigorously for 20 – 30 seconds.
    Take 3 sprigs of thyme and slap between your palms to release the oils.
    Place 2 sprigs in the bottom of a 10-oz highball glass and fill it with ice.
    Strain the cocktail over ice and stick the last thyme sprig in the cocktail as a garnish.


Fireworks For The 4th: The Surprising Bamboo Connection

With Independence Day (July 4th here in the United States) right around the corner, preparation is in high gear.  And while you might prepare by wearing incredibly moisture-wicking bamboo t shirts or by barbecuing with bamboo, did you know that bamboo and fireworks have a history together?  When you look at the different concoctions you can buy now, it is almost hard to believe where it all started.

Fireworks were invented by the Chinese over 2000 years ago.  However, their fireworks were a tad different from the ones we use today.  The Chinese figured out that if you put green bamboo on an open fire, it caused the air pockets trapped inside the structure of the bamboo stalk to explode with a bang.  They then realized if they put charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter (common kitchen ingredients found then) into the bamboo, it made an even bigger bang.   This was the beginning of the fireworks we know and love today.

At first, it was used for scaring both people and wild animals.  The Chinese military would often win battles using fireworks by scaring off their enemies!  Gunpowder (potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal) was then discovered.  Instead of using green bamboo, people realized that gunpowder exploded with a brighter light and a bigger sound than bamboo.  Now, fireworks are produced in a variety of sizes from hand held all the way up to rocket sized fireworks that need a launch tube.  The experts who make fireworks now are called pyrotechnicians, and they mix gunpowder with different chemicals (that create the different colors).  For example, sodium makes the color yellow, copper creates the color blue, barium makes green, and aluminum makes the color white.  If you add a little charcoal to the mixture, the firework has a fiery tale as it goes into the air.  The bigger displays you often see in your local town, village, and/or city are often controlled by computers.

By the 1200s, the Chinese had created their own fireworks industry and were constantly improving the technology.  Marco Polo brought fireworks to Italy with him from his expedition to China in 1292.  New kinds of fireworks displays and new technologies for creating them happened during the Renaissance. Fireworks grew in popularity and came to the United States for the first Fourth of July celebration in 1777.  It is amazing how far we have come with fireworks.  What started as a little bamboo being thrown into the fire for entertainment has now turned into a multimillion dollar industry!

Want to learn more about fireworks?  Check out these resources:

    The Art of the Explosion has a ton of information.  It also has over an hour of multimedia following the conception, installation, and performance of a major fireworks event. There also is an interactive fireworks design game.
    A point and click game from Phantom Fireworks
    A skylines game lets you experience virtual fireworks in various American cities.
    Learn about the relationship of size and velocity of fireworks at The Physics of Fireworks
    Nova has a great science of fireworks site
    Chemistry of the Week goes into detail about the colors.

For those who will experience a scorching hot holiday (temperature-wise that is), consider investing in comfortable and thermo-regulating Bamboo Clothing or Mens Lounge Pants.

How To Build A Bamboo Tree House

A tree house is like a child’s first apartment:  A place to hang out, to invite friends up for games, to spend seasons among the birds and sunshine.  Hours of hard work building a bamboo tree house leads to hours of fun for kids!

Since bamboo is used for buildings and bridges so there’s it can’t support a tree house too!

Here’s what you need to make your bamboo tree house (from ehow):

    20 bamboo poles, 6 ft x 3 in.
    100 bamboo poles, 10 ft x 1 in
    40 bamboo poles, 6 ft x 2 in
    Manual Saw
    Lashing cord
    Grass matting for the roof

Here’s how to make your bamboo tree house:

    It all starts with the tree.  Make sure to find one with flat, sturdy limbs that can support the weight of an occupied tree house.
    Create the frame of the floor by laying the 3-inch wide bamboo poles across the tree limbs in whichever shape makes the most sense for the tree you are using (i.e – square, rectangle, pentagon, etc).  Trim the poles if needed using your level to ensure the floor is as level as you can manage.  If you can’t reach high enough to position the floor, climb a ladder instead of the tree itself.  This will help avoid bending the limbs of the tree unevenly.
    Once the poles are adjusted to your satisfaction, use the lashing to secure them together.  Now you have a floor for your tree house!  When lashing bamboo poles together, make sure to wrap the lashing around the poles from all possible directions and pull the lashing as tight as possible.  (If the poles are slack, they can come apart under the weight of tiny footsteps.)  Make sure to lash the floor frame to the tree itself for greater stability and safety.
    If you’re building the tree house around the main trunk of a tree, you’ll have to build an inner frame for the floor of the tree house around the trunk. Do this the same way you built the outer frame. The inner frame should have roughly the same shape as the outer frame, though some variation is acceptable to accommodate the shape of the trunk. Try to keep the inner frame as close to the trunk as possible but leave enough room to lash the floor poles to the frame. You will need six or eight inches of clearance between the inner frame and the tree trunk.
    To form the floor of the tree house, use the 1-inch wide bamboo poles.  Trim the poles so they overhang your floor frame by two inches on either side.  Lay the poles side by side across the floor frame and lash them into place.  Each pole should be lashed to the floor frame on both ends.  Also lash each pole to the pole on either side of it.  End poles should be lashed to the frame at all possible locations.  If you’re building around the trunk of the tree, you will have to lash the poles located closer to the center to the inner frame as well.
    Now it’s on to the roof!  Decide where you want to place the support poles.  You can have as few as four support poles or as many as eight around the floor frame.  If you’re building around the tree trunk, you’ll need the same number of poles around the inner floor frame.  Lash all poles in their proper places.  There should not be more than 6 feet between poles that are next to each other. The vertical poles should end up secured to the floor frame vertically. Don’t worry if they go slightly askew because you’ll fix that problem in a moment.
    Lash 2-inch wide poles horizontally between the tops of the support poles. Each support pole should be connected to the support pole next to it with a horizontal pole. These horizontal poles are the roofing poles. If you’re building around the trunk of the tree, you should also connect each support pole to the corresponding support pole along the inner floor frame using a horizontal roofing pole. Trim all poles to size before lashing them in place as it will be difficult to do this later.
    Keep the tree house safe by creating guard rails around the exterior. Lash 2-inch wide poles to the support poles around the outer edge of the tree house. These poles should be about three feet off the floor of the tree house. You may also lash additional guard rails in place one and a half feet off the floor of the tree house. This is especially useful if younger children will be using the tree house. Leave a gap of about one foot to accommodate a ladder.
    Build the roof of your tree house by lashing the grass mats over the horizontal roofing poles.

Add a bamboo ladder for easy access and enjoy hours of fun in your tree house!  For more fun craft ideas, visit Green Earth News’ Bamboo Crafts section.

Greenpeace Fails: Lying To The Public Is Wrong

Last Thursday, a video was posted to YouTube with the title “#ShellFAIL: Private Arctic Launch Party Goes Wrong.”  It garnered nearly 700,000 views in its first week online and arguably gave the Shell Oil Company something of a black eye.  The one minute video purports to show a private publicity event for the launch of two artic oiling vessels, at which a well-dressed elderly woman was accidentally doused with brown liquid from a malfunctioning drink dispenser in the shape of a miniature oil rig.

In fact, there was no such party.  There was no such mishap.  The video was an elaborate hoax concocted by Greenpeace and a progressive media consulting firm called Yes Lab.  As web hoaxes go, this one was very artfully done.  It has all the markings of a surreptitiously recorded corporate embarrassment, complete with shaky cell phone camera footage, off-screen voices rushing to try to suppress the images from getting out, and a hasty cutaway as the supposed uploader is ushered out of the building.

If you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for swallowing this story whole, and in fact some news outlets did, and had to issue retractions after the fact.  I dare say the filmmakers did everything right with their production.  Everything, that is, except considering the ethics of making it in the first place.

The persons responsible have made no secret of the fact that the video was a put-on, and Yes Lab even released a behind-the-scenes video to its own YouTube channel the next day.  But that doesn’t change the fact that their initial efforts, including the distribution of a fake press release pretending to be from Shell, were meant as deliberate deception of the public.  And judging by the comments beneath the original video, there are plenty of new viewers who didn’t notice the revelation.  The video description still gives details about something that didn’t happen, so evidently transparency is not foremost in the minds of the hoaxers.

This isn’t the way to accomplish political goals, and it’s certainly no way to prove a point.  After all, you’re not actually saying anything about your ideological opponent if you show people something that that that opponent didn’t actually do, and encourage people to laugh at him or be outraged.  If outrage is the response, it’s outrage at something that only happened in your imagination.  To encourage that is essentially to encourage people to tilt at windmills even though there are real giants lumbering toward Dulcinea’s village.

If an activist group wants to pick a fight with a corporation, surely there are plenty of real examples of actions and policies worth bringing negative attention to.  And if there aren’t, that group has probably picked the wrong fight.

I get it, all right?  This hoax was a clever way of calling attention to the possibility of catastrophic spills in fragile ecosystems.  But if you think that many of those 700,000 viewers read deeply into the metaphor or even knew exactly what the fake part was fake-celebrating, then you probably don’t know the internet very well.  Even the most in-the-know viewers won’t get much out of this.  The ideal reaction is probably something along the lines of, “How will Shell contain an oil spill in the Arctic?  They can’t even control a coffee spill indoors.”  And that would be a great point, if there was any evidence whatsoever that that was true of the company.  You know, evidence that wasn’t made up as a convenient act of PR sabotage.

This is the new media equivalent of a straw man argument – the practice of mischaracterizing someone else’s views and demanding that they defend themselves for a claim that exists only in your mind.  It is the refuge of people who are boastfully sure of themselves but don’t have the intellectual capacity to make their arguments convincing on their own.

And it shouldn’t be that difficult to convince people that new drilling operations off the coast of Alaska might come with some serious risks.  Isn’t that a strong enough point on its own that Greenpeace doesn’t need to falsely convince people that Shell Oil Company is run by a bunch of half-wits who can’t even create a faucet that won’t explode without warning?

That kind of deceptive character assassination cheapens the national discourse about very important issues.  It conveys the sense that politics and activism are just competitions wherein it’s not so much about being right as it is about winning.  But we don’t accept outright lies from politicians about the people on the other side of an issue.  We don’t accept that corporations can make plainly false representations of their competitors.  And we shouldn’t accept that kind of behavior from activists, either.

Here at Green Earth News, we have an activist’s interest in bamboo.  We think people should plant it, invest in it, and buy it.  We want consumers to wear bamboo clothing and we want corporations to experiment with bamboo biofuel.  We want all these things because we genuinely believe that it is the most sustainable, ecologically friendly resource, and that it makes attractive, quality products.

For the sake of promoting bamboo, we can tell you that it grows in most climates, that it is an unparalleled oxygen producer, that bamboo towels can be as soft as cashmere and wick away moisture better than other materials.  We can tell you these things not only because they benefit the market for alternative resource, but also because they’re true.

We cannot, however, tell you that traditional wood has a tendency to spontaneously combust, or doctor footage to show cotton producers dumping toxic chemicals into the ocean.  Those things would be lies.  And while they might dupe a few people into joining our side for about a day, it wouldn’t really be progress if people were not only choose the right side, but choosing it for the right reasons.