It isn't really RED versus GREEN

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/12/05 03:01 -05:00, original URI:

So the other day a bunch of people were talking about stuff that was GREEN and stuff that was (RED)™.

The (RED)™ thing you can read about here. They are working to solve big problems -- getting antiretroviral medicine to the people dying of AIDS in Africa.

Microsoft is one of the many (RED)™ partners.

This is also the kind of area that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looks upon, as they too work to save lives.

In the end, it is fair to say that (RED)™ cares most about people. People who can really benefit from that caring.

It saves lives.

Now the GREEN is another kettle of fish.

It is an effort inside Microsoft that moved the company from one that only cared about trying to divide into trash/recyclable materials and added a whole new category -- compostable material. 

This effort came with a push to make the cafeterias use 100% compostable material -- the plates, the cutlery, everything.

Probably a good idea since most of those recycling places are a scam (they can't recycle stuff that is not 100% clean and how often is anything you are throwing away 1000% clean? The new plan just makes more sense).

I was talking to someone I know over at Adobe a few months ago. Apparently they did the whole GREEN thing too -- roughly six months earlier. We talked about how the initial spoons they got melt into the coffee, and the hot lunches require two of the initial plates if you didn't want to see your lunch eat through to the table before the meal was over. And you know that if you scrape the plate clean that you'll be eating some plate, too... :-)

As an aside, riddle me this -- why must we start on such extremes? No one wants to be responsible for using materials that will last for 30 million years, but plates that last twenty minutes longer would be great, especially if I am getting food from the Shamiana Indian Food station or the Typhoon Thai food station. Or if nothing else they should at least publish nutrition statistics for the plates. I mean, we get nutrition statistics for beer when you know that no one drinking beer is fussing about vitamin content. So why not let us know what we're getting if we are noshing on some plate while we eat? Then if it's after hours and the cafeteria is closed we know how many plates and how many bowls we have to chomp down to get out US RDA? :-)

Okay, enough jokes, and back to the contrast.

The GREEN effort clearly has a slightly different mandate.

They are trying to save the planet.

That is a very easy contrast -- people versus planet!

And of course they are hardly mutually exclusive. You can work on a (RED)™ PC after eating lunch in one of those GREEN cafeterias. Everybody wins!

So if you spport both causes and really feel like there is no conflist, then you have a kind of red-green colorblindness about you, in this case a good thing, right?

It would kind of suck having to choose between people and the planet.

I mean, having to do so more often that we do now, that is (example -- we could add a 200% tax on oil and give all the income to earth saving efforts, but millions of people would freeze to death -- clearly a choice of planet over people, and so on. I could come up with examples in the other direction but you get my point, I'm sure).

Maybe color blindness is the wrong term here, but another term did not jump out at me for "color uncaringness", if you know what I mean.

One could think of GREEN color-blindness as people who use plastic bags for their groceries and throw them out in the regular trash.

I remember being amused that someone I know had sent a proposal to the Gates Foundation to fund the encoding of historic scripts in Unicode (I knew because they asked me if I could advise on how to re-submit the proposal so it would be accepted). Now not to get all snooty about the relative importance there, but THAT is what I would call (RED)™ color-blindness.

So what is the term that does NOT suggest things like either of these but does suggest that you are not taking sides in this debate but both are important to you, important enough that you are willing to eat the plates if need be? :-)



And NO, there is no COMPOSTING symbol in Unicode. Someone want to get on that? :-)

# Andrew West on 5 Dec 2008 5:04 AM:

I don't know how you can compare encoding historical scripts with throwing out plastic bags in the trash. Personally I think that encoding dead scripts that only a handful people in the world know and use is in its own way every bit as important as all the do-good, feel-good stuff that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invests its  money in.  (RED)™ color-blind and proud of it.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 5 Dec 2008 8:03 AM:

I wouldn't say I was comparing the two -- they were just two examples of being "colorblind" (by which I mean insensitive) to a particular cause.

As for importance, the foundation is not a random make-a-wish foundation to spend money on whatever is deem ed "most important" -- it is an organization with a specific mission, one that character encoding does not fall within. If one understands what their mission IS yet still thinks they should ignore it as a matter of [non-profit] corporate policy, then one is "(RED)™ color-blind" (and one should also likely  be disqualified from most charity boards to avoid misuse of funds scandals!) but I am hoping you didn't mean that. :-)

# J on 5 Dec 2008 11:30 AM:

I find Microsoft's efforts here a scam. I remember going to cafeterias and was flabbergasted that they used freaking styrafoam. Styrafoam! And they thought this was good because they had a recycle bin for it?

The compostable stuff is scammy as well. Look, this isn't rocket science: get silverware and dishes and WASH THEM. Forget the disposables - they are a problem no matter what you do.  REUSE comes way before RECYCLE. Compost the food washed off the plates.

Microsoft people are not the height of good grooming and manners, but they aren't slobs and they can handle bringing plates to a trash can so they can handle briging them back to a tray return station so the dishes can be washed. Restaurants and cafes everywhere have been doing it forever.

And it's cheaper! But no, let's move to some stupid system that pretends to be green but is more expensive and even more disposable.

Re above conversation: Character encoding of dead scripts simply isn't as important because it affects less people on a much less dire level. You're lacking humanity or just trolling if you don't see this.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 5 Dec 2008 2:01 PM:

Scam? I have trouble seeing it as a scam, at least in the way I understand the term. Unless you feel the companies who offer to recycle and compost are the scammers?

Though I agree that would make more sense to me, there are a lot of additional complications and cost that get added (e.g. to-go orders, delivery orders, tons of cutlery/plates/bowls walk out of the company and that would certainly increase with real stuff, and more).

# Michael S. Kaplan on 5 Dec 2008 5:25 PM:

In fact, when I first started doing contract work for Microsoft (back in late 1996), there was real silverware/plates for when you stayed in the cafeteria. I admit I did not eat at the cafeteria and don't remember when it changed exactly....

Cheong on 10 Dec 2008 5:24 AM:

I've searched for a while in charmap.exe and yet to find a font that'll display these characters in WinXP. That brings me to a question: Is there a font that ships with Windows (not necessarily WinXP or Vista... just any version. Maybe even a future version. :) ) that'll display most non-user-defined range of Unicode characters? Or at least that'll display most of the "sponsor characters" in your blog?

Sorry if this question has already been answered, because I've been yet to come up with effective keywords for this question.

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