Merwin: The Price of "Green" Fishing

Why should going "green" cost more money? Or to put it another way, when we as individual sportsman want to do something good for the environment in terms of the gear we use, why should we have to pay a financial premium to do so?

This is a question brought up by a reader here, Wags, who was addressing the cost of rubber-soled wading boots versus felt. Rubber soles (with studs) are somewhat more expensive than felt, but better for the environment because felt soles tend to transport invasive species. The question, however, involves far more than wading boots.

Going green is fashionable, for one thing, and sometimes lately seems a little over the top. Do you need a shirt made with high-priced bamboo fibers instead of polyester? Or expensive sunglasses frames made from castor beans instead of petroleum-based plastics?

Then there's a kind of environmental morality that existed long before green fashion. I bought a new refrigerator the other day. It cost $50 to get rid of the old one. I could have driven the old one with my truck up into the nearby national forest after dark, dumped it in a ravine, and saved $50. Sadly, there are a few areas up there that are appliance graveyards. But doing such a thing is totally beyond me, and I happily paid the money for proper disposal. I don't throw beer cans in trout streams, either.

In our throw-away, fantastic-plastic society, the environmental cost of any particular product is usually not included in its price. When I buy a truck tire, for example, the price typically does not include the cost of the tire's eventual disposal.

So yes, doing things right is often going to cost more than we're used to. On the other hand, I also agree there should sometimes be incentives. So maybe some wading-boot makers could do as Wags suggested: use some kind of modest price-coupon system to buy back old felt-soled boots and thereby give a small discount on new rubber-soled versions. That's not too far-fetched.

And yes, please take my old washing machine while you're at it...