There was a ridiculously long documentary on Japanese TV tonight about Al Gore’s new cause, global warming. I sat through the first three hours; watched ants eating houses, deer ravaging Hokkaido, watermelons growing in November, hybrid iguanas and evil konbini bentos (those CO2 polluting lunch boxes sold at convenience stores).
While I much preferred Al’s DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, some of what they showed was quite convincing, and would no doubt encourage the mass purchase of environmentally friendly products. In fact, there seems to be an “eco-friendly” boom happening, as more and more household appliances get labeled with an ECO badge.
What makes a product eco-friendly?
ECO, wrongly pronounced in Japan as echo, looks likely to be this year’s buzzword, as the move to halt global warming picks up speed. What concerns me at the moment is that there doesn’t seem to be any regulation over what items are ECO and what aren’t.
Let’s look at an example. Here’s a new air conditioner from Sharp. Notice that it is a self-proclaimed eco-friendly, energy efficient machine. Please excuse the fact that it’s a 2006 model, it was the cheapest ECO air conditioner I found on Yahoo Japan Shopping.
Notice also how it only uses 2.2 kilowatts of power on “cool” mode, and 2.5 kilowatts on “warm” mode. Pretty energy efficient, right? Well, let’s have a look at an older, 2002 air conditioner from National, one without an ECO label. I found this one on Yahoo Japan Auctions.
Just because it says ECO, doesn’t mean it is true
As you can see, there is no difference whatsoever in their power consumption. I’m no electrician, and don’t know anything about air conditioners other than what’s on the remote control, so maybe I’m missing something here. What I am sure of though, is that companies will take advantage of the consumer’s desire to be environmentally friendly, and will market their products as such. So, buyers beware!If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!