Editor’s Note: This article was first published in January of 2013 as “7 Crappy Products, Courtesy of the Green Movement.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.
In the good old days, consumers got what they wanted. Supply and demand, not causes or ideology, governed product design and manufacturing. That’s why we have great American icons like the 1969 Chevy Camaro, the charcoal-burning Weber grill, and DDT.
But things have changed. The Green Movement’s worship of scarcity has changed the consumer landscape for the worse. Instead of big, powerful, and, most importantly, effective products, in 2012 consumers must suffer with pansy products. Sure, they are designed to save energy and make you feel good. But they just don’t work as well as the old, and usually cheaper, versions.
Below are seven crappy products we must endure, courtesy of the Green Movement.
1. Low Water Toilets
Any article with the headline above must start with low water toilets. Many of you will remember an age before the government decided water was scarce, when toilets could be counted on. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, and President George Bush signed it. It mandated a maximum flush capacity for toilets. Naturally, the 1992 version of the Green Movement was behind the law, and behind the Republican sponsor – Representative Philip Sharp of Indiana. Since Bush signed Sharp’s legislation, plunger sales have sky-rocketed. Sharp’s bad idea has caused some of the most embarrassing moments of people’s lives, especially when they are visiting someone else’s home.
2. Mercury-Filled Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
We have learned a number of things in the last few years. First, the new environmentally friendly light bulbs aren’t. When one breaks, mercury spills into your home environment. And even if they don’t shatter, they still spew out cancer-causing chemicals when you turn them on. They are expensive. The Green Movement tells us they last longer. Poppycock. I started writing down the installation date on the bulbs to see how long they really last. And the longevity is comparable to the old-style bulbs, the ones that cost a third as much.
3. The Boeing 787
I love air travel. I flew over 110,000 real miles last year. I couldn’t wait to get on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not anymore. A series of mishaps has exposed a frightening problem with the plane – electrical components are catching fire. This is no ordinary glitch that Boeing can easily sort out. Boeing has introduced an entirely new design paradigm which causes the problems on the 787, a paradigm that makes the Green Movement happy. Instead of using mechanical energy to power aircraft systems, the 787 uses stored electricity. Electricity is stored in high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, freeing the engines from burning fossil fuel. Boeing jettisoned efficient copper wires, replacing them with lighter aluminum wiring. At the FAA’s urging, it reduced the punch of the batteries because they were known to explode and burn – bringing down at least one 747 that carried them in cargo. The new Boeing design paradigm is a light, electrical, fuel-efficient jet that uses less energy. Sound familiar? Boeing boldly trumpets this new paradigm.
The Boeing engineers are some of the smartest people in the world. So odds are they will sort out the problem, hopefully quickly enough. Until then, I’ll ride on fuel-inefficient MD-80s or 737s. (Update: “U.S., others ground Boeing indefinitely“)
4. Front-Loading Clothes Washers
Here is the dirty secret about energy-efficient front-loading clothes washers: they suck. Before I owned one, a friend warned me, “they really don’t get clothes clean.” I didn’t believe her, but she was right. Front-loaders utilize a technology still used to clean clothes on the banks of the Ganges in Bangladesh – small amounts of water and soap are used to beat damp clothes on rocks. Instead of rocks, American front-loaders use a rough drum. The clothes gently swirl, then rest and thump in a puddle of soapy water. Sure they use less energy, but who cares when clothes stay dirty? And the mandatory “HE” detergent you must buy also costs more. The Green Movement hated the top-loaders that cleaned clothes efficiently. In those good old days, clothes sat submerged in several gallons of water filled with detergent. Lots of electricity agitated the clothes to pure, clean beauty. So don’t be fooled by the neighbor or salesman who tells you front-loaders are the way to go. Get yourself a big, wasteful, but effective top-loader before the government bans them.
5. The Chevy Volt
What can be said about the Chevy Volt that hasn’t already been said? Just remember back to that first perplexing moment when you learned that this electric car actually had a gasoline engine. Huh?
6. Highly Collapsible Water Bottle
The bottled-water industry is feeling the heat from the Green Movement. A nutty documentary called Tapped argues that bottled water is unsafe and environmentally insensitive. Congress even held hearings on bottled water at the behest of the Green Movement. The bottled-water companies think they can buy peace by going green. Think again.
Companies like Deer Park have come out with a flimsy, pansy Eco bottle that crushes in your hand like the Hulk would smash a VW Beetle. The “Green Eco-Shape” bottle by Deer Park boasts it is the “lightest half-liter bottle” on the market. It’s also the most annoying because it spills all over when you open it. It also collapses when you drink from it. Like so many in industry, Deer Park believes that the Green Movement will leave them alone if they make small capitulations. It won’t happen. The Green Movement will continue to demand and devour until bottled-water companies vanish from the landscape. That’s what the Green Movement is all about – eliminating consumer products which do not comport with their theology of scarcity and simplicity.
7. Quiet High-Efficiency Dishwashers
The reason new high-efficiency dishwashers are so quiet is that they don’t clean dishes. Like the ineffective front-loading clothes washer, saving energy and water is more important to the Green Movement than clean dishes. Try opening one of these quiet dishwashers mid-cycle and take a peek at what is going on. Compare it to your old dishwashers. New high-efficiency washers use less water, gently and quietly squirted, over the course of sometimes six quiet hours. Open up your old dishwasher and it was aqua-violence. Blasts of hot, steaming water, noise, and energy-devouring mayhem got dishes clean. The new energy-efficient dishwashers, like the new water-efficient toilets, sometimes require a second cycle.
The Green Movement deserves most of the blame for bringing us these products that make life worse. But so do the Republicans and captains of industry who think capitulation to the environmental Left buys them peace. Fred Upton hasn’t earned their friendship because he brought us compact fluorescent bulbs. The anti-bottled water movement still has Deer Park in their crosshairs, despite their awful eco-bottle. The Green Movement knows no compromise, until such time as toilets are not only smaller, but also lack water, or even go away. Theirs is a substitute theology, intolerant and primitive.