le frémissement d'une éthique verte

Un produit 'vert', c'est quoi ?

C'est une couleur omniprésente de nos jours. Le vert est tendance. Il est partout dans nos supermarchés, et décore toujours plus de produits. Nos boîtes de thé en sont recouvertes au même titre que les emballages de nos marques de gâteaux préférés. Mais cela va sans dire : les agents des métiers de la communication ont eu recours au vert dans un tel excès qu'il en a perdu toute signification. Pourtant, concevoir le design de produits au moyen de diverses nuances de vert avait du sens, à l'origine. Mais alors un produit vert, c'est quoi au juste ?

Nombreux sont ceux qui avancent que les produits verts doivent être bio, tandis que d'autres encore expliquent que ce sont des produits que l'on juge bons pour la santé. Malheureusement, il n'est pas aisé d'en trouver une définition institutionnelle... Mais pas d'inquiétude ! Nous n'avons qu'à faire notre propre définition ; )


Illustration apaisante de feuilles emportées par le vent

The meaning of green

Green is unarguably the color of nature. Plants are green, trees are green, and fruit and vegetables essentially are too. It is consequently commonplace that in the face of current environmental concerns, green be associated with its preservation. Now, I will not list all underlying meanings which may be associated with this color as so many of them are of course based on culture, but one other thing is certain across all continents: the sight of green suggests positivity and feels soothing to our minds.

See, wearing colors in this society is like waving a flag. They most usually carry meaning and spread a set of values. To get to the point, nature and positivity together make green the perfect fit for anyone willing to convey loud and clear the following message: "We are committed to taking positive action for the environment".

In fewer words, green may be associated with anything ecological.

Given the above conclusion, it makes sense that entities with environmentally-friendly motives wear green to better embody such values. Now, I won't argue about companies overdoing it out of competition and somehow discrediting the fair use of green in the process, because it is not my fight here. My object in the moment is rather pointing out the fact that they paint their goods in green in hopes that the sight of this color appeases potential customers and suggestively plants in their minds the idea that their products are environmentally-friendly and worthy of purchase.

But let me do some explaining further down on why I have outlined that one word.


The insidious power of suggestion

Illustration d'une forêt aux couleurs fantaisistes

Believe it or not, colors have power on us all. In fact, our brains automatically see them as immediate indicators of comfort or discomfort. This is why green and red are commonly used to convey permission or prohibition, and used by civil engineers on traffic lights as signals of either safety or danger. But there is a downside to how easily colors can suggestively plant either peace or doubt in our minds...

See, it has felt so comfortable for your mind to rely for all your life on the sight of colors as indicators, that it has become an undeniable tool without other actual reason but ease. And when you are shopping and your eyes lay on a product with peaceful colors, your brain now tells you: "Looks safe, must be good. No questions asked.", and you happen to throw a tea box in your grocery bag just because you needed tea and some designer made that one look appealing.

Here's how those suggestions start acting in a tricky manner on our minds... because the harsh truth is that your brain has actually told you: "I have limited time and energy, and I will certainly not read every label on every product. Instead, I had rather let the people whose job is to put pretty appealling shades of green on tea boxes do the thinking for me.", and there they had you because these are specifically designed with peaceful colors for your mind to think trees, fresh fruit, butterflies and ignore other potentially negative thoughts.

And who could blame you? My brain does the same thing to me each and every day. To be honest, when I'm all soft and easy on the weekends, and I go shopping to get food and other stuff for the next days, I just want someone to do the thinking for me as well. I want environmentally-friendly products decorated with peaceful tints of green to make it effortless for me to spot the ones which will make me feel good purchasing.

But the actual motive behind the design of these shady shades of green is most often to charm us, rather than to guide us... If that tea box is painted in green, just know for a fact that it mostly is in order to lure your mind into saying "It feels good enough.", regardless of that tea not being environmentally-friendly or not being very healthy.

I am not saying that this practice is necessarily greenwashing, considering that actual eco-friendly companies also legitimately use green with the purpose of having us throw their products in our grocery bag without us making further questions. They're companies, after all.

In fact, it's only fair to me that brands respond exactly to what our brains are craving for: having the joys of doing little thinking. The world is not all sunshines and rainbows, and it would be quite naive to think that brands are run by responsible adults and should therefore act in good faith and not mislead us. In the end, every time that we take a shortcut and fall for said insidious suggestions, aren't we somewhat accountable for not actively thinking for ourselves?


Illustration d'une forêt

The mode in which our brains operate

I personally believe that my mind consciously considers as many as two criteria when I am faced with multiple choices in a grocery store: either the price and its overall apperance; or the price and the relevant label on it. "Only two...?", many might think. Well, it would be a bit careless on the part of anyone actually meaning that because there is a reason why our minds can sometimes behave so and go for the abovementioned shortcut.

See, your brain happens to operate in mindless mode most of the day, relying on habits. Everytime that it will have a chance to save energy through the reflexes that it has acquired, your brain will take that chance because it allows it to run effortlessly.

It's not that our brains go idle when we are faced with multiple choices, it is just that the part in which our brains do active thinking is resting, and only will awake if there is reason enough for it to. In case that it is not worth sweating for, our minds will just draw us to the one products that we are already used to throwing in our grocery bag because that only requires muscular effort.

Pursuing with the above statement, I'd like to point out beforehand that it is not a weakness of the mind or anything like this. It's just that we do not have room for everything up there. In all consideration, our brains are already busy piloting us around the grocery store and we all have other concerns that we hold on the back of our minds, such as not getting home late, taking care of personal stuff, getting ready for an event, meeting a deadline, and much more for the ones of you who have bigger worries or have a family to come home to.

So... In all consideration, do our brains not actually deserve a break? ; )


The changes to easily attain a more ethical lifestyle

Illustration de montagnes alpines

Many are those who will see the ways of the brain as a weakness no matter what and who will be temped to overcome human nature on the grounds that we should all refrain from procrastinating behaviors as decent men and women, and seek pride in how great our willpower can be instead.

But in my experience, there is no use fighting it.

It's just unhealthy to force ourselves into doing things, and in place of beating ourselves for our own behavior, I believe that the best response is [1] to accept the way in which our brains operate, and [2] to just kindly consider what can be done about it ; )

Now, I cannot just deny the bits of frustration that I may feel sometimes from giving up on something. Though, this feeling can surprisingly prove to be a powerful driving force. It takes practice, but acknowledging that I feel frustration sometimes effects in turning it into willpower and somehow fuels the need to remedy a situation that we feel does hamper our well-being.

In my opinion, one way to use this burst of energy is to effect soft changes by playing by the rules that apply to our brains. If our minds rely on sticking to habits in hopes to operate effortlessly, then I believe that turning that behaviour around only requires making new habits. To further express my point, I suggest that you follow the link below about how I've come to make improvements and attained a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle without squeezing my brain too much.

Déconstruire les habitudes (to be released)