The Green Consumer

I found a link on Terrapass to a New York Times article about Green Consumerism. It brings up a some interesting paradoxes.

“There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we’re going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions,” said Alex Steffen, the executive editor of, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues.

Right now I feel like I am getting this message. I feel that ads about many "green products" are telling me I do not need to change how I act to save the world, I just need to change what I buy. I think the whole compact fluorescent bulbs ads feel this way.

“We turn toward the consumption part because that’s where the money is,” Mr. Hawken said. “We tend not to look at the ‘less’ part. So you get these anomalies like 10,000-foot ‘green’ homes being built by a hedge fund manager in Aspen. Or ‘green’ fashion shows. Fashion is the deliberate inculcation of obsolescence.”

For many people I know, I feel that they want to be environmentalists, but they do not want to give up their luxury's. They still want to travel, have the big house, or work the job that gets them a lot of money. I think that they are being sold the idea that green shopping is enough for that to have that leeway.

I work for a consumer electronics company. I believe that you cannot work for a consumer electronics company and be an environmentalist. My job is to help sell desire. Selling that desire is bad for the environment. When I would bring this idea up at work it would ruffle a lot of people. They did not like my idea and they did not agree with it. It made them rethink how they saw them self in the world and that is never comfortable.

In the end consuming less can only be a good thing. It is not enough to just consume better. We have to be mindful of where our money is going and where it is coming from. I know that this is very hard for me and most the people I know.


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