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Baker Street Irregulars
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Once upon a time, we had Green Shield Stamps. In the US, I
they had Green Stamps, which were similar but with a shorter
The basic idea was that, when you bought something, you got a
bunch of stamps with some nominal value (like 0.01p each).
You'd collect these stamps, and
stick them into a book which had a
nicely printed grid of squares (or rectangles, rather).
There was a Green Shield Catalogue, listing attractive consumer
goods such as pen-and-pencil sets, bath towels and cars. A pen-
pencil set would be priced at 6 pages of stamps, a bath towel at
three books of stamps, a car at 2 million books of stamps, etc.
As a result, people would shop at stores that gave Green Shield
Stamps, in order to diligently acquire (or diligently to acquire, if
feel strongly about split infinitives) the points they needed to
Fast forward to 2009.
Green Shield Stamps are no more.
Many of the goods I buy have some kind of environmental merit.
kitchen towels are made from recycled paper; my refrigerator has
low energy rating; my tuna is line-caught; my silver foie-gras
is made from melted-down Roman coins. Etc etc, yada yada.
But where is the scorekeeping? How much environment have I
actually saved by buying these products? Where's my return on
replacing the brake-light bulbs in my 4.8 litre Jag with more
efficient LEDs? Where's the return on my environmental
Enter Environmental Green Shield Stamps. When I buy my water-
conserving jacuzzi, or purchase a pack of sulphur-free fireworks,
buy truffles which have been shipped by sea rather than air, I get
certain number of EGSSs. I stick these into a book, filling page
page with environmental worthiness. Slowly, I fill one book, then
another, and another - and soon I am looking eagerly through the
One full book buys me a rare Namibian feng-beetle. Twelve books
buy me a pinned and mounted Chalk Blue butterfly. Twenty-four
books get me a square yard of Amazonian rainforest. An orang-
and an Eastern Mountain Gorilla each cost 64 books (including
shipping). Or, I could keep saving until I have enough points for
most expensive item in the EGSS catalogue - an adult North Pacific
You know it makes sense. If we're going to save the environment,
we ought to at least get a piece of it.
||How much do you get for sinking that scum of the sea ship, The Nisshin Maru? [+]
||Knights of the green shield stamp and shout...
||... as long as there's a SWAT team standing by to airlift in and rip those stamps right out of your hands as soon as there is clear and present danger of you actually driving that LED-retrofitted Jag...
||More direct approach - and one even involving RFID (!) would be to have the stamps control your aircondition (also the one in the Jag), so you get direct feedback about the climate impact.
||Of course you can go one better than a water saving jacuzzi, you can do without it. You can do one better than an eco-car, you can walk or cycle or use public transport. Or not travel.
||If the government pays for this, then the non-consumers will pay for what the environmentally friendly consumers are doing. If private industry pays, the cost will be factored into the cost of environmentally friendly goods.
||The most effective method is a tax on what is not environmentally friendly. This discourages harmful consumption, but does not encourage consumption of goods which hurt the environment less but still hurt it.
||[loonqwal] If I don't drive my Jag, how on earth am I meant
to get to and from my jet? You think I can land the thing
in my back garden?
||[BadJim] //go one better than a water saving jacuzzi, you
can do without it// Oh for heaven's sake. I don't want to
go back to the dark ages, I just want to make a difference.
You'll be having us wearing leather jerkins and cooking our
Kobe beef over an Aga next.
|| And I don't care how it's done - but I am frankly getting a
bit sick and tired of the current scam. Time and again I am
told I'm helping to save a whale in the rainforest
somewhere, but does anyone actually deliver it? No, they
||The whole point of saving the whale or forest is that it isn't delivered anywhere. They mean saving it so it can stay where it is.
||Do you live in the forest?
||//They mean saving it so it can stay where it is.// Well,
that's a fat lot of good and, incidentally, something that's
not made at all clear on all this "Eco Friendly" stuff. If I want
to watch a whale or a forest where it is, I can use the telly or
go there myself.
So, in effect, they're asking me to pay so I can continue to
do so? I already pay my TV licence and air-fares. Sounds to
me rather like
raising money to preserve the constellations. Someone has
some explanating to do.
||"And in other news today, it was revealed that the Chinese manufacturer of the Green Shield Stamps has been dumping their toxic waste from the manufacture of stamp glue into the Yellow River..."