On ‘going green’

I find the phrase ‘go green’ or ‘going green’ loathsome[i]. It’s like the new song that plays on the radio over and over again until absolutely everyone abhors it. The only difference is that I never liked it to begin with; there was never that period when I thought, “ooh, turn it up!”

Oddly enough, I find it way less annoying when people say ‘green’ as an adjective (e.g. green wedding, a green alternative). But this is not an ‘enjoy-pickles-but-hate-relish’ scenario. Replacing ‘environmentally sustainable’ with ‘green’ is practical — a nine-syllable gain for us lazy conversationalists.

It’s not that I don’t want our language to evolve. I think that slang is usually organic, useful and telling of the times. But ‘go green’ sounds unnatural, sluggish and offensive to my ears. Besides, it’s only considered slang when people actually say it. You’ll notice that not too many people say ‘go green.’ It’s a phrase that is mostly read, appearing in press releases, on cloth shopping bags and free water bottles.

What we have here is laziness. Ideally, writers have the time to edit, to think, to rewrite. What I’m saying is they had the opportunity to come up with something better.

And yet, here we are with ‘go green.’

I might be more forgiving if I only saw it in an article or two. But I’ve read this phrase everywhere. ‘Go green’ has become a standard line. My next issue, then, is that good writers aren’t even supposed to use clichés. Sometimes we fall back on them because they’re easy, but we all know you don’t get any points for knowing how to write what thousands have written before you.

I don’t want you to think that I’m snobby, because it not true. But the phony pep of ‘go green’ is enough to…to… to make me write a strongly worded blog post.


[i] I say ‘loathsome’ because I really want to emphasize how much I hate this phrase-look, I’ve even written a footnote about it. I couldn’t be more serious about this.

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