TreeHugger has been producing green gift guides for years, trying to profile products that are better for the environment, last longer, support local producers and a number of other criteria. We are all also aware of the contradictions in promoting consumerism. Piers Fawkes has brought the issue front and centre with his post at PSFK: 'tis the season to avoid green gift guides. He writes:
What has happened to the environmental movement? It seems to be all about top 10 green-product lists and there’s little about who’s really causing damage-to our planet. Blogs and magazines seem to be keen to wave the latest cool eco-packaging ideas in front of our noses but ignore the deeper environmental issues at the companies that are making the products that are wrapped in it.
He thinks it may actually be counterproductive and bad for the environment.
Could the writing of some green bloggers and journalists be damaging to the environment because their focus on the individual lets corporations off the hook? The green media needs to stop telling people to buy cool stuff that’s labeled organic or BPA-free, and they need to start helping people identify who is at fault here so that people can actively lobby the companies folks buy from, or the employers people work for.
Now TreeHugger has often noted that we can't shop our way to a better planet, but is Piers going to far?Jill Fehrenbacher, founder of Inhabitat, thinks so.
I think saying "no Green Gift Guides" is just silly. People are not going to stop giving gifts during the holidays and they are not going to stop shopping. Knowing this, I feel like it is my job as a blogger to call attention to innovative, well-designed products, and try to support small businesses and individuals that are trying to make a difference in the world. Commerce supports people's livelihood. Many of the gifts in Inhabitat.com's gift guide are handicrafts made by crafts people in impoverished communities where the sales go to support that community and help send children to school. Many of the other items are hand made good from working individuals and small businesses in the U.S. This type of commerce supports our U.S economy, supports individuals, and supports artisans and craftsmanship. And then frankly, a lot of our gift guide is lists of donations, things you can make yourself, and non object gifts you can give (gifts of time).
(Yuka at Inhabitat also responds with Are Green Gift Guides Destroying the Earth?)
I personally am conflicted, and like most people in these hard times, I am put off by thousand dollar wine racks, even if they are made locally by hand from old railway ties. But like Jill, I feel that it is our job to support and promote our local designers, makers and small businesses.
Maybe the next time your favorite blog or magazine runs a green gift guide, challenge the editorial team as to why they’re running such an ineffective environmental message.
Do you agree?