Guiltcology. A cute little portmanteau neologism that stabs right at the heart of the green zeitgeist. Long overdue, I think. Has that same beautiful illogical quality as Irangate and chocoholic. Coined this day by Marc Arsenault. Guiltcology can be loosely defined as an approach of argument that focusses on blaming individuals for causing grossly disastrous effects on the environment. You shower too long, you drive too much… change these selfish habits and everything will be OK, and better yet, you’ll feel better about yourself. ‘I hugged the earth today. I walked to the corner store (instead of driving the 2 blocks) to buy (mercury laden) CFLs to replace the bulb I broke last night stumbling around in the dark (because I’ve been keeping the lights down to save energy).’ A classic example is US President George W. Bush’s speech about how Americans are addicted to gasoline.

Many examples are directly tied to the crassest and most misleading forms of advertising, like a recent example in the Gardener’s Supply Company catalog (Late Spring 2008 edition, page 68… nothing against them, really, they’re a fine company, but this is just plain stupid) that begins “Americans throw away more than 300 million tires every year.” Well, surely, this is the responsibility of that industry? I don’t get my old tires back when I replace them. (I didn’t get my wisdom teeth either, even though I practically begged for them. Who knows what they did with that hot commodity?)

Typically it then leeds in to full-on guiltvertising (neologism no. 2 for today). Continuing on in the Gardener’s listing… ” The good news is that today, almost 80% of those tires are being recycled into road surfaces, building materials… and our exclusive rubber mulch! Our customers alone have purchased enough recycled rubber mulch to keep 896 tons of rubber out of the landfills.” Really, OK, don’t hurt your head too much thinking about how that works… Like how many tons are 300 million tires and what percentage this mulch that will just hang around forever represent.

Far worse are the many examples of ad copy out there for how buying a plastic water bottle or coffee mug is so awesome for the environment because it saves X amount of bottled water bottles or coffee cups. And that makes it green as all get out, no matter what it is made out of.

UPDATE: Excellent piece on AdFreak tears apart Wall Mart’s loathsome green campaign that

…instead of showing that it’s following through on serious, long-term corporate commitments to eco-friendly practices, the company is just tossing the job back in the consumer’s lap.