Environmental activists claim that all manner of "green" practices and products are not only good for the environment but are financially smart, too. They imply there are only benefits and no costs to "going green."
Of course, many conservation efforts are sensible, and some are economical as well. But many other environmental initiatives are expensive and impractical.
Solar and wind power, as well as ethanol, would not need massive taxpayer subsidies if they were truly cost-competitive. Consumers would flock to them as a way to save money.
But it is only through big federal subsidies that those types of energy can be made to seem cost-effective.
Many other "environmentally friendly" products are not economical, either, The New York Times reported recently.
Sales of some "green" household cleaners, for instance, have plunged by tens of millions of dollars a few years after they were introduced to much fanfare. The trouble is, many of those products are far more costly than the less environmentally oriented products they were supposed to replace.
A bottle of one environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner, for instance, costs 40 cents more than a bottle of regular cleaner.
As if that were not disincentive enough, consumers have found that some "green" cleaning products - such as detergents for automatic dishwashers - just don't work as well as ordinary cleaners do. Well over a dozen states forced makers of those detergents to change their formulas so the detergents would be better for the environment. But ironically, because the new detergents don't work as well, some consumers wash their dishes by hand as well as in the dishwasher - using more water and soap. That certainly doesn't help the environment.
Conservation is a worthy goal. But it does no good to impose environmental policies with no regard for costs and common sense.