Living In A Green World

Living In A Green World

By: Beverly Smiley, Executive Director
Solutions Through Science


In today’s world of marketing sophistication, “green” products have found a prominent place. There are “green” houses, automobiles, diapers and cleaning products.  In our increasing environmentally aware society, “green” sells. The question arises, though: What does “green” really mean? And where do vinyl and other chlorinated products fit in a “green” world?

Marketing tactics of “green” products give consumers the impression that the products are made of all natural materials instead of manufactured or processed materials.  And often, the strategy is taken one step further with “PVC free” or “chlorine free” clearly identified on labels or advertisements.  What often goes unsaid is what actually makes the product “green.” Instead, the consumer is left believing  “green” products are safer, more reliable, healthier and better. Consumers “buy” into the marketing strategies and purchase products (often at higher costs) that do not live up to their perceived image. In fact, when compared with products made of vinyl or chlorine, are “green” products safer or healthier? Are they more reliable?

The answer is no.

Take a moment to review what is known – chlorine and vinyl products are safe, reliable, durable and cost effective. Chlorinated products are proven to effectively kill antibiotic resistant bacteria. Chlorine has been used to safely purify drinking water for 100 years. The United States has been able to eradicate cholera or other water borne diseases from the nation’s water supplies since the widespread use of chlorine. In fact, no other product has met the safety performance standards of chlorine. In countries where safe drinking water is not available, the number one cause of death in children is water borne disease.  Chlorine helps save millions of lives each year. 

As important as chlorine is in treating water, so too is PVC pipe in safely transporting water to millions of homes and businesses throughout the world. PVC pipe safely transports water more easily because it is lighter to transport, simpler to work with and more affordable than many other materials. In addition, PVC pipe is dependable and does not deteriorate over long periods of time.

What is not being said about vinyl and chlorinated products is that they are energy efficient, even more so than some of the “green” products. “Green” often means energy savings and efficiency that saves on heating and cooling costs and uses less electricity, natural gas or heating oil. Vinyl windows are energy efficient, earning the EPA Energy Star rating. Insulation made using chlorine chemistry effectively keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer. The white vinyl roof sheeting used on large commercial and industrial facilities keeps harsh sun from heating interiors and is particularly effective in hot climates. Vinyl siding is now manufactured with hard foam backing that creates another level of insulation.

In addition, vinyl products use less oil. With escalating oil prices and public demand to move away from dependency on petroleum, PVC remains a sensible choice. PVC is made primarily of salt, one of the most abundant natural resources on earth.  It uses less petroleum and energy than other plastics. It is durable, does not rot or deteriorate, does not harbor termites, and vinyl building materials never need painting, which saves on replacement costs.

Chlorine and vinyl products also save on transportation costs and fuel when they are made and transported in the United States, as opposed to being made overseas and transported here. They keep our food supply safe as many crop protection products are made using chlorine chemistry.  These products allow the nation’s farmers to supply the world with a steady supply of grain, cotton and other staples.  The country’s security depends on a safe and dependable supply of food; without products that protect these crops from disease, pests and invasive weeds, farmers would be faced with increased labor costs and an unpredictable harvest.

The only thing “green” about the “green” marketing tactics is the money generated from these products. Vinyl and chlorine products are less expensive, more durable and cost effective. Don’t buy into the hype of the “green” movement sweeping the United States or you may be left seeing red.

Solutions Through Science (STS) is a partnership of vinyl and chlorine producers and users in Louisiana. Established in 2000, STS is a single voice for 12 member companies. STS works closely with the Vinyl Institute, the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council and the Louisiana Chemical Association. STS members are committed to serving Louisiana by providing reliable and durable products, volunteering in community activities and operating plants in a safe manner.