Soda skirmishes and Green Tags 

It has all the components of a great showdown—giant, greedy multinational corporations, a righteous governmental body, and school children played as pawns in a cruel struggle—but it appears this one might work out amicably.

The City/County Health Department is working to forge a partnership with area schools to promote healthful eating. That means, among other things, less soda pop and more of the good stuff like milk, juice and water.

“Students want choices,” says senior community healthy specialist Ellen Brown. “Some students are healthy. Some even decide not to drink soda during sports seasons.”

But the big soda companies, namely Coke and Pepsi, make a bundle selling copious amounts of carbonated sucrose to sugar-junkie teens. And the schools don’t mind because Coke and Pepsi provide the schools with a cut of vending machine profits. “But the machines don’t need to be taken out,” says Brown. “Pepsi and Coke have many products themselves that are healthy, like bottled waters and juices.”

There are also rumors that the two companies intend to enter the booming “flavored” milk business as well. Now all the health department needs to do is get Coke and Pepsi to offer healthy versions of tater tots and corn dogs.

Here’s something to wrap your brain around: Not wanting to be the kettle calling the fossil fuel black, the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series has started buying Green Tags to reduce the impact of bringing speakers to the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series.

A Green Tag is a certificate that represents a specific amount of electricity generated by a renewable energy source. When people buy Green Tags—like, say, the folks behind the lecture series—they get to assuage their guilt over driving cars or riding on planes by making a contribution toward renewable energy.

“Basically, we’re selling a concept,” says Pat Nye of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), which sells the tags. “What we do is put wind and solar energy into the power grid. As more renewable energy goes into the grid, less coal or gas is used.” If you still don’t get it, revert to SAT logic: Green Tag is to Hail Mary, as polluting is to sinning.

It’s an idea that’s so crazy it just might work. In Oregon and Washington, where BEF is based, green energy has become so popular that power providers have been forced to offer both traditional fossil fuel energy and renewable energy to their customers. But until those leftist wackos take Montana, it’s just Green Tags and Hail Marys for us.

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