Curry: Environmental Responsibility Means Paying More

     Being more environmentally “responsible” means being willing to pay more for basic goods, according to NBC “Today” show host Ann Curry.


     “What’s your best advice to me and families like me who really want to be responsible and pay even more, but do the right thing because we know this is an issue?” Curry asked consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman January 31.


     Curry’s epiphany revealed a painful truth about the growing “green” movement: “green” products tend to cost more, from hybrid cars to produce. A hybrid Toyota Camry starts at more than $6,600 more than the base model gasoline Camry, while an organic apple can cost more than 30 cents more than a regular one.


     So does an inability to spend more make other Americans less “responsible?”


     At the same time Curry called environmentalism “responsible,” she tried to reject personal responsibility for investigating the actual environmental impact of “green” products, by blaming business for “misleading” marketing.


     Curry slammed companies she accused of “taking advantage of our interests and maybe misleading us in terms of what may or not help the environment, but we do want to find the right labels.”


     Lieberman said consumers “are confused by the new phrases in the growing green vernacular.” Catch phrases like “100-percent natural,” “carbon neutral,” “certified organic” and “environmentally conscious” are vague and often lack official definitions, she said. No kidding!


     “From cosmetics to cars, we’re bombarded with lofty claims because companies stand to profit substantially from environmentally-conscious consumers,” Lieberman said, suggesting environmentally-conscious shoppers might be “getting bamboozled in the name of saving the planet.”


     She said the Federal Trade Commission is “in overdrive to update their environmental advertising guidelines, which haven’t been revised in a decade,” but an FTC spokesman encouraged consumers to conduct their own research.


     When Lieberman suggested to Curry, “It’s up to you to do the research, look at the claims, look at the customer service number, call them, look at their Web sites, and if those numbers aren’t available, pass,” Curry complained about how time-consuming self-education can be.


      “But can I tell you, that’s a lot of work,” Curry said, “And we don’t have that kind of time, so what is the best advice you can give us today?”


     Lieberman’s advice was still to research your purchases.