Sustainable Urban living- are we being greenwashed?

We hear a lot these days about being eco-friendly and reducing are carbon footprint, but are we being exploited because of this? It’s good to try to reduce what we use and became more environmentally aware, but I feel that certain schemes are taking too much of an advantage from this. This is what my geography teacher calls ‘green-washing’ like a form of brainwashing.  It’s when we are given the perception that eco towns are sustainable, which fools people into thinking living in a eco town means that they won’t damage the environment at all.


Bed ZED homes (photo credit: Wikimedia)

A good example of this is a project I studied for my AS in Geography. Bed ZED is an eco town that has been developed on the outskirts of London, containing 99 eco homes, with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint through building design. This involves things like cavity wall insulation, south-facing homes, and thick walls. These, admittedly do work as it means that homes here do not need any central heating, which saves on energy used to generate electricity. These homes also have air vents that provide air conditioning in the summer and the roofs are covered in a plant that saves water which can be used for sanitation.

This on the face of it sounds pretty promising. However, Bed ZED also burn locally sourced wood chippings to fuel a central generator that provides any extra power this town needs. Yes, they are locally sourced, saving on fossil fuels that might be burnt transporting them, but they are not a sustainable source of energy. Wood chippings, no matter where they are sourced from, produce carbon emissions when burnt. Therefore, the residents living there, were fooled into thinking that they were living in a 100% eco-friendly town, when they weren’t.

It’s not just burning wood chippings that makes Bed ZED a good example of green washing. The homes are extremely expensive, with prices starting around £300,000,  so they are out of reach of most of the population, meaning the homes cannot be truly sustainable as they don’t benefit the majority of the population.

Sustainable urban living is growing in popularity, but is this because people are being green washed into thinking they are being 100% eco-friendly? In some cases it could be. In my view nothing can be 100% sustainable as everything will have an impact in some way.



One comment on “Sustainable Urban living- are we being greenwashed?

  1. I agree…We really have to be cognizant and look into the source. In some cases, exploitation is clearly happening by placing the “eco-friendly” tag on many things today. .great read!

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