Is Blue the new Green?

In what is one of the most absurd articles I've read in a while, Chicago Tribune reporter Nara Schoenberg tries to argue that "blue" is the new "green". In other words, green (as a symbol of environmentalism) is old hat. So people are now starting to say "blue" instead of "green".

Her main evidence is that Mercedes-Benz calls its new clean-diesel technology BLUETEC. And a few environmental websites have blue pages.

I refer to this journalistic technique in Hippo Eats Dwarf as the "Generalization from a Single Example": "A reporter makes a sweeping statement, but backs it up with only one or two examples... [leading] audiences to believe they represent a larger trend, even if the reality is the opposite."

David Roberts of Grist Magazine offers this analysis of Schoenberg's article:

Culture reporter wants to write something on green, but needs something new, a counterintuitive trend piece that can get some attention.
PR shill pitches reporter on fake trend: blue is the new green! Perfect.
Reporter calls actual green journalist. Actual green journalist points out that trend is fake.
Even better! Now you've got a trend piece with some he-said she-said controversy attached!


Posted on Fri Jan 25, 2008


i don't see why this should be a hoax? there's many other examples, for example VW has a BlueMotion series as well..

i think, however, blue is used to suggest clean air a.o.t. general environment. makes sense, after all.
Posted by holzer  on  Sat Jan 26, 2008  at  09:52 AM
Chartreuse is the new fucshia.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sat Jan 26, 2008  at  10:19 AM
>>i don't see why this should be a hoax?<<

Oh, come on. There may be some examples of the word "blue" being used in a way similar to what "green" has come to symbolize. But that doesn't mean there's a trend toward using the word "blue" in place of "green." The reporter is just inventing a fake trend.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat Jan 26, 2008  at  01:19 PM
Alex, we may be witnessing the start of a new trend - a new method of expressing certain concerns - a new fad speak. Naturally the first efforts at new fad are going to seem strange. It seems that designations have to be changed every few years in order to feel "up-to-date" after all, as an example, look at the various changes in how colored folk are designated. All the changes and still the same meaning.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sat Jan 26, 2008  at  08:23 PM
Some citiies are now using blue bins or bags to collect recylable materials (to distinguish this stuff from regular garbage). Maybe that's where the "Blue = Environmentally Friendly" idea came from. Or, of course, it could be just another silly article based on not much evidence.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Mon Jan 28, 2008  at  08:48 AM
You know Big Gary, I never thought about that. Here in Tucson the normal trash bins provided households are freen and the recycle bins are blue. Of course, if you take blue from green you get yellow - what could that mean?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Jan 28, 2008  at  11:11 AM
I don't know about yellow, but red waste containers are the convention for identifying hazardous waste-- especially biohazards, such as used medical supplies.

Around 20 years ago, the Dallas sanitation department started requiring residents to put their trash in plastic bags (don't get me started on this!). Our locally-based high-status retailer, Nieman Marcus, decided it would be cool to offer their customers special designer trash bags, which were bright red. People who put the red bags outside their mansions found that they were still there after trash pickup day. The sanitation workers, quite reasonably in my view, refused to touch the bags that might or might not carry all manner of dreadful biological contamination.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Wed Jan 30, 2008  at  11:25 AM
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