Green is Islam.

In Islam, one prayer in the al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the prophet’s mosque, is equal to 1.000 prayers in any regular mosque. Visible from afar, a huge green dome covers the tomb of the last prophet Muhammad - the key figure in Islamic tradition. Green is said to have been the prophet’s favourite colour and the colour of most of his clothing. This has two symbolic reasons: firstly, in the context of the early days of the Islam - a hot and dry desert in Arabia - green oases meant health and prosperity for the people. This positive association later led to green being used as the symbol for paradise in both Islamic writing and imagery. Secondly, green forms the middle of the colour spectrum. It sits right in between the cold, short-waved blue and the hot, long-waved red light. The Islam connects this balanced quality of green to one of its most fundamental teachings: to live in moderation, in balanced, far from extremes.

The importance of the symbolism associated with green can still be seen today, in the flags of many countries with an Islamic majority: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many more.

Green is clean.

Green is hip.

Green is Irish.

Green is balance.

Green is sick.

Green is politics.

Green is wine.

Green pigments are actually among the hardest to produce. There was a lot of experimentation throughout history, including the infamous Scheele’s Green that was so toxic it is said to have given Napoleon stomach cancer. The Romans had a slightly more elegant way to make green colour: they dipped copper plates into wine, making the plates turn green. A similar process can still be witnessed today in architecture. Rain pipes and roofs are often made from copper plates that will, exposed to rain and air, develop turquoise-green patina over the years. This is simply a form of oxidation, not so different from rusting or burning. The Romans just scraped off that green layer and used it to paint frescos and walls.

Green is deadly.

Green is healthy.

Green is screen.

Green is money.

Greenwashing isn't green.

These days, everyone seems to be trying very hard to save our planet. Pick any big company that is on top of its marketing and you’ll find a sustainability section on their website, praising their initiatives and efforts to be sustainable. In fact, often, sustainability and green are the first words to strike your attention. Nestle has it. Mercedes has it. EasyJet has it. So do Shell, BP and Maersk.

Companies like these pay teams of marketing experts to do the seemingly impossible: making a fundamentally unsustainable business model look like a responsible and green concept. Just a few months ago, some of the biggest timber companies in Europe were fined millions because they made illegal non competition agreements for cutting down the last bits of untouched forest on our continent. These areas in Romania should be protected meticulously, but are used for making cheap furniture (among other uses) and sold in yellow-blue boxes outside most cities. In the decades leading up to the discovery of this disaster, the same companies worked very hard in making their controversial chipboard products seem like an environmentally friendly option. A textbook example of what green-washing is all about.

Off to the better news: The European green deal shows that there is an ambition to tackle the issue: ‘companies that call themselves green unrightfully should be fined’. Hopefully, there will be strict rules in the near future that helps us as consumers to know which companies are actually trying to drive change.

Green is yes.

Green is envy.

Green is go.

Green is mold.

Green is racing.

Green is surgery.

Green is war.

Green is land.

Green is nature.

Many of the meanings we connect with green, especially the positive ones, come from the same source: basically all plants are green. We connect green to trees and forests, to freshly cut lawns, to peaceful walks through nature. As most people know, the green colour comes from the pigment chlorophyll. It allows leaves to absorb light and, together with water, turn it into sugars that give the plant its energy.

You might have noticed that there are some trees that carry red leaves, the blood-maple for example. The reason for this is our love for the exceptional. In nature, these mutations don’t survive very long, because their red leaves slow down photosynthesis and let the tree grow much slower than their green neighbours. The red pigment acts as a type of sunscreen - protecting young leaves from too much sun. After just a few days however, an enzyme breaks down the red anthocyanins and the leaves reveal their usual green colour. The blood-maple and his red tree friends have a faulty metabolism that disables the production of this enzyme. Humans keep them alive, especially in parks and gardens, because their atypical red colour breaks with the green mainstream. We always want the rare and exceptional, even if it actually means the tree is sick.

Green is a name.

Green is wisdom.

Green is urban.

Green is beer.

Green is citizenship.

Green is luck.

Green is new deal.

Green is McDonalds.

McDonald’s pulled off a smart and daring publicity stunt for their European branch. Their burger restaurants in the US have been looking similar since the yellow M was first introduced in the 60s. Yellow on Red. The main logo, the TV commercials, the clown, the employee’s clothes - the yellow and red colour combination have been burnt into the collective memory for cheap and fast burgers. The American concept took over Europe very quickly, nowadays it’s impossible to go anywhere without coming across one of their restaurants.

In 2009, McDonald’s decided to change their strategy: They changed the main colour from red to green. The concept was first put into practice at 100 restaurants in Germany, changing all advertisement to green designs, the furniture to imitation wood and the employees‘ clothes to forest colours, brown and dark green. The transition should make everything feel healthier. Slowly and quietly, this premise has expanded to all of their marketing in Europe, health-washing McDonald’s’ fatty and sugary ‘food’.

Green is reincarnation.

Green is drugs.

Green is tea.

Green is stone.

Green is ____________?