Stop the Presses: Green Consumerism Exposed


But I want my wasabi-covered goji berries!

Monica Hesse at the Washington Post writes an article letting the cat out of the bag for all of us conspicuous consumers of green goods: Spending Won't Save the Earth. Shocked and reeling from this searing exposé that challenges our beliefs to the very core, we wonder, can this be in the paper that owns Sprig, "where serene people are into green"?

We were relieved that she quotes Lazy Environmentalist Josh Dorfman saying "Buying stuff is intrinsically wrapped up in our identities" and Chip Giller of Grist, who views green consumption as a "gateway" to get more people involved in environmental issues.

Much better than some Paul Hawken guy who says "Really going green, means having less. It does mean less. Everyone is saying, 'You don't have to change your lifestyle.' Well, yes, actually, you do."

So many lessons to be relearned, so many myths shattered. Hesse writes:

Which is why, when wannabe environmentalists try to change purchasing habits without also altering their consumer mind-set, something gets lost in translation.

Polyester = bad. Solution? Throw out the old wardrobe and replace with natural fibers!

Linoleum = bad. Solution? Rip up the old floor and replace with cork!

Out with the old, in with the green.

It's done with the best of intentions, but all that replacing is problematic. That "bad" vinyl flooring? It was probably less destructive in your kitchens than in a landfill (unless, of course, it was a health hazard). Ditto for the older, but still wearable, clothes.

And we always thought our recycled polyester polartec was just fine, and that linoleum was as green as it gets. Now I learn that linoleum is vinyl! I thought it was flax and linseed oil.

And that's not even getting into the carbon footprint left by a nice duvet's 5,000-mile flight from Switzerland. (Oh, all right: a one-way ticket from Zurich to Washington produces about 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.)

My duvet weighs three pounds. I had no idea that its transport was equivalent to a person! Or that it flew and didn't come in a container like almost everything else!

But in among the errors, inconsistencies and lame jokes, that blinding revelation shines through, that money shot from Chip Giller: "We're not going to buy our way out of this." ::Washington Post

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