Green can also mean gullible and naive

I AM all for making human endeavour as environmentally responsible as possible. In fact it's probably up there with tolerance and non-violence as my most treasured moral principle.

Aidan Semmens

I AM all for making human endeavour as environmentally responsible as possible. In fact it's probably up there with tolerance and non-violence as my most treasured moral principle.

But sometimes I'm tempted to wonder whether green isn't, for some people, merely the new black.

Take these innovations being trumpeted this week as great designs for our glorious green future.


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First up, the ingenious gadget that converts coffee grounds into “a sustainable source of ink for your printer”.

That rather begs the question just how sustainable it is to drink real ground coffee every day. But I suppose if you're doing that anyway, using the ullage to save on chemical ink is at least a neat trick.

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I'm always fascinated by architecture that makes a claim to environmental friendliness. Building with straw bales, for instance, or Scandinavian-style turf roofs seem good to me - and that's just the basics.

These days there are plenty of grander architectural projects in which environmental economy seems to play as big a part as aesthetic values. In fact, it's often hard to disentangle the two.

Take the latest fine building in Concepcion, Chile, a bustling university city about the size of Birmingham.

In the heart of the thrusting, high-rise business quarter a new office block has appeared that enjoys “the insulating and air-purifying benefits of green walls”. Which is clearly a good thing.

It's actually the head office of the architecture firm that built it, so it had better be good. And I think it is.

Plus points for using mostly local materials - and for being a pleasantly eye-catching addition to the street scene.

Maybe we could do with something like it among the welter of new buildings that have so changed Ipswich in recent times.

But what is that “green wall”?

It's a “double green skin” that both insulates the building and shades it from the hot Chilean sun. It's “a wooden outer structure overflowing with bougainvillea, jasmine and plumbago”. Lovely.

Or, to put it another way, it's a big trellis with creepers growing up it.

So potentially it's not just the language that's flowery. I bet it'll look great when it's in full bloom.

But plants growing up the outside of a building? Whoever would have thought of such a fancy idea?

And finally, how about giving your kids some “cute organic play-food”?

Or, to put it another way, soft cuddly burgers, bagels and cheese-on-toast.

That burger may be knitted out of “amazing sustainable textiles” - in this case kapok fibre from the Malaysian rainforest. Which may or may not be a good thing.

And you may pretend the fabric bun is filled with “organic” lettuce, tomato and pickles, “organic beef patty” and “farmer's pickles”.

But to any kid presented with it it's surely just a big fat juicy burger. And at about �27 it's not the cheapest way to get them started on the greed-is-good, fast-food road.

Remember sweet cigarettes? The cuddly burger doesn't sound that different to me.

AS a once committed trade unionist, I have seen few more depressing sights lately than that of strikers protesting against foreign workers.

Yes, I have sympathy with those who have lost their jobs, or fear losing them. I've been there. It's not nice.

But one glimpse of that “barge” in which the Italian workers live, moored near the controversial Lindsey refinery, should tell you one thing. These people are themselves the biggest victims of the situation.

The banner waving over the strikers there and at other troublespots bears the ironic name “Unite”.

That word was once part of a famous slogan which ought to mean something to trade unionists.

It followed the words “Workers of the world…”

I DON'T think much of the Israeli government. If you've been following this column over the years you'll know that by now.

I can't disagree with all those friends of mine who find Israel's war-making against Palestinian civilians in Gaza repulsive. Or the view that Jews, of all people, should know that genocide is evil.

One dissenting voice told me the other day that he thought of Israel as “our team” and supported all they did the way you or I might support Ipswich Town.

To him I can only point out that you don't turn Norwich supporters into Blues fans by beating them up.

And that nothing is more calculated to foster the anti-semitism he rightly deplores than Israel behaving badly.

But having accepted all that, one tricky question remains. What SHOULD you do when your neighbour keeps lobbing missiles at you?

The Israeli government, as usual, has come up with one seriously wrong answer. But what is the right one?

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