ZAHRAH NASIR Professing to be 'environmentally friendly largely appears to be more of a fashion statement than a truism these days as, quite unlike the hippies of yore and their 'back to the land movement, the vast majority of todays 'earth lovers are unashamedly addicted to life in the fast lane and all that this implies. An increasing number of 'global village opportunists are merrily raking in fortunes by promoting what are purported to be environmentally friendly options when they are, in real terms, nothing more than profit-making scams. Buy this wind-up torch and youll never need to invest in batteries containing poisonous heavy metals again is a prime example as yes, the concept is brilliant and yes, for the first couple of weeks or so the torch winds up fine, if youre prepared to wear out your wrist in the process that is but, as with all shoddily manufactured goods the bit that matters most soon drops off and youre back to square one or, if you reside in the land of loadshedding, the fact that the wind-up power is depleted in less time than it takes to wash your hands, renders the smart looking torch an expensive waste of money splurged on additional, non-recyclable trash for the can and there is nothing planet saving about this. Endorsing 'green products, whilst never going as far as to actually use them personally, is just another way of cashing in for internationally revered doyens of the silver screen and the jet setting inhabitants of the worlds of sports and music yet their fans rarely seem to comprehend or, if they do then to accept, that their green-tinged idols relish lifestyles which are as far removed from 'sustainable as it is possible to get. Take the ingredients of their toiletries and very necessary couldnt appear without them, cosmetics for instance, poisonous gunk incorporated even if the attached blurb indicates otherwise and, as for the 'organic label, in gunk manufacturing countries which abide by the laws of their particular land, the ingredients of the most 'natural products only contain something like 1 percent of an honestly organic substance, with the other 99 percent comprising just about anything at all as long as it accomplishes a resemblance of its advertised task. Manufactures of just about anything you care to name in countries where laws are extremely lax, or completely non-existent, can claim whatever they like on labels, or, in some cases, neglected to provide any details at all, simply depending on attractive packaging to bait the customer trap and, if the product is in the hair care range and your hair turns brilliant green the first time you use it then hard luck. The down to earth world of ordinary mortals has also developed more than its fair share of green pretenders who harp on about conserving energy and water yet dont think twice before jumping on and off planes, particularly if someone else is footing the bill plus, if hotel accommodation is included in the deal, then countless luxuriously long showers as its someone elses water not their own, will be theirs to relish after which, if their agenda so specifies, they will be driven an otherwise walkable distance to an over air-conditioned venue to present a paper on the importance of reducing the humungous size of everyone elses carbon footprints which are threatening to kick the entire planet out of inhabitable orbit. NGOs continue to proliferate in Pakistan, some of them efficiently and conscientiously run and staffed by honest, hard working, well intentioned people but others are a completely different kettle of fish and, with funding for environmental enterprises increasingly up for grabs, unscrupulous elements are coming up with eco-friendly projects by the score, presenting meticulously researched, intellectually impressive plans which, unfortunately, once donors have handed over the crucial finance, fail to get off the ground with the money thus acquired being leached out in often personalised directions. Operators of a much touted multi-million biogas programme, intended to provide low cost, even in some cases absolutely free, gas to a large number of villages in the Punjab a few years ago had, in true Mafioso style, got their fraud worked out down to the finite detail and, as the funding was to arrive in stages, reportedly went as far as allowing the gullible donors to undertake tours of inspection. Having coerced a number of villagers in to participatory action the smooth operators confidently showed the inspectors a number of scattered homes in which biogas connections had been provided and where the lady of the house demonstrated just how wonderful it was to have this instantaneous source of fuel by boiling up endless cups of tea. Biogas pits were clearly evident along with pipes and everything else required but, what the inspectors accepted at face value was a farce as the biogas pits each contained a carefully disguised gas cylinder and the operators, along with selected villagers of course, laughed all the way to the bank or, at least, this is what one witness reported. Opting to go green is greatno two ways about it as going green is increasingly important for the sustainability of all life forms on the planet but, do remember that what appears green on the outside may not be the case once you pierce the skin The writer is a Murree-based freelance columnist.