Greenwash The Sun

In the quest for new blog material, I asked my husband for ideas about industries that could be greenwashing their products. His immediate response was the solar energy industry. As surprised as I was by this, I decided to look it up and determine what could possibly be wrong with this patently popular green energy source. It turns out there is a great deal wrong with this “clean” energy. Just by Google-ing “dirty solar plants”, I found numerous articles that point to the manufacturing issues that are happening in China.

In March, the Washington Post broke a news story about the illegal dumping of toxic chemical waste from solar panel plants in China. This horrifying story goes on to detail the component, called polysilicon, used to create solar panels and how the manufacturing of it is causing un-calculated human health risks. Similar to our problems of treating nuclear waste, China has not managed to design a way to safely dispose of the waste and the costs to recycle the material are prohibitive. Instead, trucks from these plants are pulling into small outlying villages and dumping the toxic chemicals in open public areas.

This issue should certainly offset the benefits of solar power and should be carefully considered. Since we purchase the components of our solar panels from China, are we not responsible for how those products are manufactured? This is a moral issue as well as an environmental one. Our earth is one planet, not separate biospheres and damage to one area in order to clean up another is counter productive. We have the leverage as consumers to demand that products we use be safely manufactured and this leverage needs to be applied. What good will the fields of solar panels do us when we are choking on the environmental destruction we created through their production?

-Gina Mason

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