Diapers, infidelity, screaming, tabloids, bikini, henpecked, multiples, backward mullet.
Any of these words might come to mind when the reality TV show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" is mentioned — but "green" is probably not among them.
Jon and Kate Gosselin, the heads of the crowded Pennsylvania household featured on the hugely popular TLC show, have recently made a push to have a more Earth-friendly lifestyle.
Some TV experts have applauded the efforts.
"This woman not only raises a family of eight kids — she also recycles, she buys organic food whenever possible, she buys local food whenever possible and she's overcome a lot of the obstacles a lot of people are still tripping on," gushed Sarah Snow, a green-living expert and TV host, during an appearance on the show.
A special hour-long episode of the show, entitled "Jon and Kate Plus 8 Go Green!", aired just before April 22, which was Earth Day.
Steve Thomas, the host of "Renovation Nation" on the Planet Green channel, came on to show the Gosselins how to make their home more energy-efficient as a skeptical Kate looked on.
Yet while there was much fanfare about the eco-move in the media, some environmental experts see big families and going green as mutually exclusive.
"A family with eight children could be green in the short term, if they lived at such a low standard of living that they didn't consume more than a family with two children, or if they existed in extreme poverty — which isn't an acceptable way of going green," says Rosamund McDougall, policy director of the U.K.-based Optimum Population Organization (www.optimumpopulation.org).
"In the long term, though, it is almost impossible for large families not to increase overall environmental impacts."
One of the reasons for the lack of green-ness is the emission of carbon dioxide.
If the eight children depicted in the show lived in Britain, they would each emit about 750 tons of carbon dioxide over a lifetime, McDougall explains. (American carbon-dioxide emissions per capita are about double that of Britain's.)
"What's more, if the eight children each had eight children, not taking into account the fact that eight husbands or wives would be absorbed from other families, there would be 64 grandchildren, each emitting 750 [metric tons] over a lifetime," says McDougall.
"Compare this with the total emissions of the two children who go on to have two children each, and you see only too clearly how the impact multiplies over time."
Tree's a Crowd
For some bloggers on environmental Web sites, the only green they see is caused by nausea over Jon and Kate's attempts.
Sure, the family might have installed solar panels and made a fuss over recycling, but with eight little carbon footprints running around on the Earth, America's most televised family is hardly non-consumptive, charge some greenies.
"No matter what this family does, it could NEVER go green," writes one blogger on Treehugger.com. "The most green families are those with one child or none. So this family has absorbed the CARBON FOOTPRINT OF 8 FAMILIES. This is very greedy!!!"
Critics aside, it could be said that the show itself is good for the environment. The 9.8 million viewers who caught the season opener were at least not cruising around in their cars, guzzling gas or stamping on the Earth during that hour of the week, right?
Viewers and Boo-ers
It's little surprise that the Gosselin family's tries at going green would be divisive, considering how divided the nation seems to be over the show itself.
With the rumors of infidelity, the high-profile travel, the book deals, the money machine, Kate's hairdo and all those kids, the public either loves it or hates it. Sometimes the division is even in the same family room.
"My mother watches the show aaaaaall the time. We, on the other hand don't," blogs Liam Jameson on the comment board for the "Goes Green" episode. "We feel like hitting Kate over the head with a freezer door. Mother is angry because we say this."
Now, would that be an energy-efficient appliance or not? Just asking.