Spending green when going green

Sarah James

Lately, everywhere I go I have been bombarded by the “green movement.” There are flashy new products designed to reduce my carbon footprint one bottle of water or pack of tissues at a time.

Near most every cash register, there is a stack of reusable bags made from burlap or canvas or whatever seems more organic that day. When I see all of this, I cannot help but laugh. How did environmentalism get so skewed?

According to www.webecoist.com, the green movement began in the 1830s, but didn’t become a legislative issue until 1970 when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.

The green movement seemingly exploded after Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” hit theaters. Suddenly, companies launched new products with green emblems displayed prominently on the packaging and claimed they were doing their part.

“Buy a hybrid car! Buy organic foods! Buy reusable bags!” they seemed to shout from every aisle.

How will buying a new hybrid car help matters if it just leaves your old car at a junkyard? How does buying organic produce solve things if they were flown from Guatemala on a jet to the local Whole Foods Market?

How does buying a new bag solve anything? Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to shop at thrift stores for these items or encouraging consumers to walk to work instead of drive? Shouldn’t we be promoting local businesses instead of corporations?

It seems to me, the green movement has a few major flaws. The movement mixes up consumerism and consumption with reduction and conservation and is profiting every step of the way.

Why not turn off lights when not in use, or drive less? Buying potato chips with a fern on the label will not be enough to save our environment.

Why recycle bottles when you could just apply some ChapStick made with beeswax? Surely your soft lips will help save the planet just as well.

Why take shorter showers when you could just lather, rinse and repeat with green shampoo? Your silky hair will close the hole in the ozone layer!

Do you really want to make a difference? Buy a used tote from the Salvation Army. Or better yet, use a bag you already have.

Buy your clothes at Goodwill, and don’t give the Gap a reason to produce more and more “go green” shirts.

These corporations fool consumers into thinking that they’ve made a difference when in actuality all they’ve done is buy a silly product with a leaf on the label. The green movement gives consumers an excuse to consume even more while companies count their green dollars.

Sarah James is a sophomore public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].