April 1, 2010

Attention Shoppers: Green Products are Still Bad for the Environment

Via Christopher Smith of NewEraNews.org

Have you ever bought a product because it was labeled ‘green’ or ‘eco’? I know I have. Hell, I have even bought environmentally friendly underwear! UNDERWEAR! It took me a while before I paused to question just how “green” or “eco” the products I was purchasing really were. Sure, that yoga mat I bought last fall from Wal-Mart was made from recycled rubber, but is it really good for the environment?

No. And neither is taking it for granted that it is sustainable to buy such products ad infinitum.

You might be asking yourself, why not? Why can’t we just make every product green and go on living as we have been living?

The quick answer here is that buying stuff sucks. A lot.

Consumption has many negative impacts on the world. A 2008 study by the World Wildlife Fund has found that humans are using about 30 percent more resources in a year than the Earth can actually produce and if consumption continues we will need two earths to support us by the year 2035! And on the other side of things, waste from consumerism is at an all time high. The Clean Air Council states on their website that each day the United States throws away enough trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. Moreover, almost 1/3 of that waste comes from packaging. Buying anything, green or not, contributes to resource depletion and waste.

Despite these and other facts, there is growing momentum in the US for more “green” products and businesses. Politicians and pundits go so far as to suggest that we can save the planet by simply consuming ‘green’ products. Meanwhile, environmental blogs amplify this message by mostly focusing their ‘reporting’ on eco-friendly products and the hot new eco-fashions. As an example of what I am ranting about, today on Planet Green (the Discovery owned TV station that purports to be a one-stop shop for all things “green”), I watched an episode of the World’s Greenest Homes. If you happened to watch it today like I did (say around 3:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time), you too might have walked away assuming that the only way to have a sustainable home is to build a brand new, 5,000 square foot lake-front villa with a solar-heated driveway and wind-powered lazy susan.

However well-intentioned these people, magazines, and shows might be, they all miss the mark. Consumerism and consumption will never be a cure for environmental degradation. Purchasing and using eco-products may put-off full blown environmental collapse for an hour or two, but it will never reverse it or stop it.

Environmental degradation, as I see it, results from precisely this line of thinking. People want to change what they buy without changing their buying habits. This suits the good people who bring us green products just fine because they benefit from the belief that we can have anything we want sans guilt, sans deforestation, sans thinking.

The sleek packaging designs and clever marketing strategies of “green” companies seem to suggest that their products are the panacea for all sorts of things that ails our lovely planet. In reality, buying eco-products is nothing more than a token gesture. It is a pressure valve for those who have internalized the Earth’s suffering and are searching for a convenient release, one that allows them to keep living unsustainable lifestyles….

Read the entire article at NewEraNews.org, New Era Colorado’s political blog

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