The “green” movement has been steadily gaining momentum for the last decade or so, and exponentially so in the past two years. Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” and a more environmentally sensitive Congress in 2006 helped America really start to turn a corner that it had been sitting behind for quite some time. Since then, “going green” has become a sort of national mantra – recited even by corporations. There are “green” cars, “green” clothes, “green” buildings, “green” makeup, “green” literature, a host of new “green” TV channels, “green” hotels, even “green” adult toys. Apparently, it’s also always very important to put “green” in quotes when using the word this way so as to clarify that, for instance, the “green” makeup isn’t actually green (unless you’re playing Elphaba in “Wicked,” in which case it actually is).
But with each new “green” product or service, we as a society move ever closer to “over-greenification” – that dangerous backlash that happens when a word ceases to mean what it once meant, when we start to build up a sort of social immunity to the very movement that’s trying to save us. We begin to get suspicious of the integrity of the “movement” (and rightfully so) when oil companies start touting their “green” credentials in TV commercials and car companies like GM start advertizing “green” cars that don’t yet exist (Volt) or “green” hybrid SUVs that that get a whole 20mpg rather than the 19mpg of their non-green counterparts (Tahoe). These kinds of quantum leaps by industry are WAY to radical – I’m not sure the country is ready just yet for something as mind-blowing as an SUV that’s almost as efficient as a backhoe. We have to be careful here. Sure “green” means “go”, but it’s time to add a little caution to the mix – a little “yellow” into the “green” movement, if you will. Time to slow this bad boy down just a bit before it loses all real meaning, before it peaks and then slides away into oblivion. We need a new color that’s as “yellowy green” as corn-ethanol. A color like…”chartreuse.”
Ah, “chartreuse” – that wonderful color exactly half way between yellow and green (much like the color palette of this blog). And isn’t that really what we’re talking about here anyway? I mean, let’s call a spade a spade: a 20mpg SUV isn’t green – it’s “chartreuse”, baby! An awesomely cautious dip of the toe into the vastly expanding pool of what qualifies as “green”. It’s a fabulously slow move in the green direction – a “yellow” green if you will. After all, “yellow” represents that moment in heavy traffic when you decide either to deny good sense and “run” what you know will probably be a red light or to pretend that you’re still in “green” territory – it’s a wonderfully delusional color – the perfect addition to the “green” movement in our newly-minted “‘clean’ coal” world. But mere “yellow-green” doesn’t cut it. No, it has to have the cache of “chartreuse.”
Yeah…”the chartreuse movement” – rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Think about it for a second. It’s so very French. So exotic. Tres chic, no? And talk about a colorful history, chartreuse is a liquor, a Catholic monastery, even an official uniform color of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. It also happens to be the most visible color to the human eye. Eye candy, if you will – just like a 20mpg Tahoe, corn ethanol, “clean” coal, or a 25,000 square foot “green” mansion. Eye candy that tells us that we really can buy our way to sustainability – we just need the “market” to show us the best way to consume the planet into restoration. Sounds like a winning plan.
And “chartreuse” is defined, yet malleable – so intriguingly descriptive. Heck, “chartreuse” itself underwent a sort of re-invention in the 1990’s when it gained a web-presence and became delineated into “web-color chartreuse” and “traditional chartreuse.” It’s an internet-savvy 21st century color for an internet-savvy 21st century movement. Best of all “chartreuse” doesn’t require quotes the way “green” does becau…um…I mean, chartreuse doesn’t require quotes the way “green” does because no one will think your makeup is actually chartreuse – they’ll just know it describes an awesomely hip new movement that values the backwards energy balance and land-use nightmare of corn-ethanol just as much as the mountaintop removal and groundwater pollution that gives us our “clean” coal that hasn’t been invented yet.
Oh, some people also call chartreuse “puke green.” But, they’re probably just jealous of my new Tahoe.