earth day, every day.

April 22nd, 2008 4:35 pm by Kelly Garbato

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getcher grist ecard here!

Call be an eco-grouch, but I’m finding it hard to get into the Earth Day spirit this year. I woke up feeling a bit ambivalent; caught a bit of Living with Ed during breakfast, and then discovered that HGTV’s airing a slate of “green” programming all day. Crank level rose. “Ooooo, if I’m near the teevee at 6, I can watch some yuppie couple shop for an ‘environmentally friendly’ vacation home (Um, is there such a thing? Doesn’t the sheer wastefulness of owning a second home trump the recycled cork floors?) in Hawaii.” Like, O-M-F-G. (That one’s for you, Mike Galanos. Your fainting couch should be arriving via Fed-fucking-Ex any day now.)

Time for work. While shuffling some files around and otherwise procrastinating, caught this blog post over at The Boiling Point.

If I see one more article about a gazillion pieces of fancy overpriced “organic” or “recycled” designer crap we can cram into our lives to pretend we’re doing something significant to save the planet, I’m going to shoot some (organic!?) steam out my ears.

With every Earth Day there comes a flood of special newspaper and magazine “Green Issues,” all generally pushing the same deluded feel-good idea that if only we replaced non-green products with slightly more green products, we’d really Make a Big Difference and Save the Planet. We don’t really need to change our consumer culture or hold corporate polluters accountable or enact sweeping and drastic environmental legislation–we just need to change our lightbulbs and wear organic cotton T-shirts. […]

Anyway, here’s the thing: buying more fancy stuff you don’t need (no matter how organic or recycled it is) is fundamentally an anti-green act. If you replace your perfectly good couch with some fancy organic or more sustainably produced designer creation, that does not mean you are saving the planet. It means you are buying a nice couch that is slightly less destructive than another couch. You’re still consuming, and you’re still creating waste. You are not a hero, and you are not an activist, you’re just a less destructive shopper.

And shopping is not a substitute for action. Buying a red sweatshirt or red iPod that donates 1% of its profits to a poorly-run AIDS charity that spends all its money advertising red sweatshirts or red iPods is not real action for change. A lot of this feel-good, do-nothing shopping as “activism” (ActivismTM) crap is just an excuse to give yourself an excuse to BUY MORE CRAP YOU DON’T need.

Ambivalence clear now.

Listen. Don’t misunderstand me. Replacing your bulbs with compact fluorescents, buying energy-efficient appliances, installing low-flow faucets and toilets…all good things. Buy not if you’re, say, buying them for a second kitchen, fourth bathroom, or a newly constructed wing of your house. Buying green is good, but only when you have to buy. And in this age of soaring debt, McMansions and disposable imported gadgets, most of us don’t “need” most of the crap we consume.

Even if we do, as individuals, curb our consumption down to somewhat sustainable levels, that simply isn’t enough. We need real, societal change. Greening our personal lifestyles is good, but we need an institutional greening. We need politicians who value the environment, as more than a political strategy or photo op. Who will hold corporate polluters accountable. Who will stop giving taxpayer-funded handouts to Big Oil, Big Ag, etc., etc., etc. We need to stop guzzling oil as if it’s water (wait – even that analogy no longer holds, as water is also becoming a scarce resource; what to do, what to do?). Stealing from ANWAR to feed our addiction isn’t the answer – breaking our addiction is.

All of this is very heavy, difficult, abstract. Which is why people turn to the easy outs – buying Green Knickers and winterizing 2330+ square foot homes and then calling it a day. So, what’s the solution, you ask? Damned if I know. It starts with the little things – drought resistant plants and home-grown produce – little efforts can add up. But consume wisely, and push for larger changes, as well. Press the presidential candidates about climate change and green jobs. Urge your local politicians to fund green projects. Sign on with the green groups – WWF, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NWF, NPCA, etc. – get their newsletters and action alerts, learn about the issues, boycott UnGreen companies. Vote in 2008 and hold the new president’s feet to the flames.

And ferchrissakes, go vegetarian. Or, better yet, vegan. If you want to make real change, going veg*n is probably the single biggest step you can take to slow climate change, encourage a switch to renewables, cut down on pollution, and prevent the looming food and water shortages. From an ethical perspective, it also fosters a sense of respect for other, non-human beings, and hopefully for our planet as well. Shocking, I know, but we aren’t the only mofo creatures living on this rock, and we won’t be the last.

(Crossposted from.)

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One Response to “earth day, every day.”

  1. easyVegan.info » Blog Archive » easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 04-22-08 Says:

    […] The Sierra Club: Let’s Support Renewable and Efficient Energy with the Stimulus Buying products that will increase our nation’s energy efficiency and our use of renewable energy is good for our economy and good for our environment. Using your family stimulus checks to change out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, replace old drafty windows and doors, or upgrade to more efficient appliances can lower energy bills, pump money into the economy, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say are responsible for global warming. [Just don’t buy junk you don’t need, mkay?] […]

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