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Are you being "green" or simply less brown?

By Scott Tibbs, November 8, 2013

A quote from IU athletic director Fred Glass, in the Herald-Times last Saturday:

"We'll have 5,000 red and white balloons released. And I would add they're biodegradable. Those cost twice as much as the choking-the-turtle balloons, but we're trying to be the most green-friendly athletic department around."

If IU was trying to run "the most green-friendly athletic department around" they would not be releasing the balloons at all. It is still wasteful and they still make a mess.

I do not necessarily have a problem with releasing five thousand balloons as part of the homecoming festivities. This is something that is a tradition, and something that many students, staff and alumni want to see. What I have a problem with is the pretentious nonsense about being a "green" athletic department when you are releasing five thousand balloons that will eventually fall to earth in streams, fields, forests and back yards.

Should IU be commended for spending more money on balloons that are less harmful to the environment than the traditional latex balloons? Sure. I have no problem with that, and if they are going to release balloons at homecoming then this is a more responsible way to do it.

But the fact of the matter is that words mean things. The word green has a specific meaning, that what you are doing is environmentally friendly. Releasing five thousand balloons is not a "green" action. If the athletic department had simply been honest and said that they were trying to mitigate the harm caused by the Homecoming tradition, then I would not have given it a second thought. They should not get credit for being "green" when they are just being less brown.