Wednesday, June 08, 2011

'Clean', 'Green', 'Safe' and other harmless - but loaded - words.

The other day whilst driving I saw a van from a cleaning business with the following claim on it's side: 'Creating a Cleaner, Safer World'. My immediate impression was that they must have some ecological-credentials or ideology to back that up but when you break the claim down it could, theoretically mean the complete opposite.

As an example, in a previous life I knew a few truck drivers who would boast of doing 160km/h+ downhill in 18-wheelers full of Hydrochloric Acid. The acid was used to clean huge silos at a local factory... basically creating a 'clean' and 'safe' (bacteria-free) mini-world in which food products could be stored. That said, should the same material be outside that controlled environment - ie. as a result of an accident - then it would obviously not be the case.

'Safe' and 'Clean' also doesn't necessarily mean 'food-safe'. It equally could mean 'non-slippery' or 'protected' and a multitude of other things, all of which don't necessarily mean 'healthy'.

A provider of Hydrochloric Acid could - should they find a dye robust enough - tint their acid green and legitimately claim it as 'clean', 'green' and 'safe'.

The other term often abused is 'organic'. If something is plant-based (ie. compost), isn't it technically 'organic matter'? Would a consumer be able to differentiate 'organic compost' from 'organic organic compost'? Can something be called 'organic compost' even if the source material comes from questionable sources.

Isn't 'organic manure' from intensive, repugnant chicken farms still technically 'organic matter'?

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