Perhaps the greatest disadvantage of going green is that it often requires a large initial cost. For example, installing a new roof or new insulation to keep heat from escaping your home would be considered a green home improvement, but it would cost a large sum of money to get the work done. Similarly, buying a hybrid vehicle that gets good gas mileage can reduce energy consumption, but hybrid vehicles often cost many thousands of dollars more than similar vehicles without hybrid technology. Upfront costs present a large deterrent to going green.
The aim of going green in many cases, such as building an energy-efficient home or purchasing a hybrid vehicle, is to reduce environmental impact while saving money in the long term. Green buildings and vehicles tend to use less energy, so initial costs can often be recouped over time through energy savings. The problem is that the savings generated by going green are often less than expected; they do not make up for the initial cost quickly enough to make them economically viable.
In the business world, going green can be an attractive goal to gain goodwill and consumer support, but unless green improvements are economically viable, it can put a business at a competitive disadvantage. For instance, if one company decides to adhere to strict, self-imposed pollution standards which require the installation of new technology and workers, while another sets loose standards, the second company will be at an advantage since they will have lower production costs. Even if national standards were imposed to force businesses to go green, this could put them at a competitive disadvantage with respect to foreign companies.
While going green is focused on reducing harm to the environment, the impact that any specific individual can have on the environment by going green is often negligible. The theory is that if everyone were to go green, it would have a significant and noticeable impact, but not everyone can be convinced to go green and many believe that doing so has no real impact outside of the economics. This makes going green a personal choice for many, which does not necessarily result in concrete economic or environmental benefits.