Choose Your Fads Carefully

Only a fraction of green trends are grounded in sound science and economics. Here, we sort through the latest.

Feb 25, 2008
Outside Magazine

OUT  LEED–WASHING Green-built condo projects are great—almost as stirring as the pasture or forest that used to occupy the same space. Florida developer Bobby Ginn's new 5,400-acre ski resort, slated for the mountains south of Minturn, Colorado, will employ sustainable construction practices but occupy pristine open land as well as old mining claims.

IN  MOD REDEVELOPMENT Two trends that have us excited: Excess empty steel shipping containers (blame the trade deficit) have become 320-square-foot, $2,000 modular building blocks; and Windterra's new roof-mounted wind turbine ($5,900; can generate 1,600 kilowatts per year.

OUT  CARBON OFFSETS Unless you're soccer star DAVID BECKHAM— whose commute from "Beckingham Palace," outside London, to play for the Galaxy in Los Angeles tops 5,000 miles—don't obsess over your "footprint." The indulgences sold by TerraPass and others divert funds and attention from much-needed policy fixes.

IN  CARBON TRADING This spring, Wall Street launches its Green Exchange (, which will allow public companies to trade a large volume of carbon credits from greenhouse-gas-reducing projects. The market's creation signals that big business is ready for mandatory caps.

OUT   SINGLE-SERVING BOTTLES Americans buy 215 billion beverage containers per year. On average, only 31 percent of all plastic soft-drink bottles and 45 percent of cans will be recycled.

IN  MULTIUSER BIKES This March, Washington, D.C., kick-starts the nation's first SmartBike shared program, with 100 bikes in ten locations across the city. Users will pay annual dues of $40 to have unlimited card-swipe access to a ride. San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon, already have similar plans in the works.

OUT  LOCAL-ONLY DIETS We love supporting our farmers, but you can pry these bananas from our cold, dead hands.

IN  LOCAL POLITICS Weary of waiting for Washington to act, a consortium of U.S. mayors ( led by Seattle's Greg Nickels signed 754 cities on to a Kyoto-besting climate agreement.

Filed To: Culture, Snow Sports

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