Eco-friendliness should be more than a fad

Jenna Staul

Everywhere you turn, there’s evidence of ecological consciousness.

Hybrid cars motor down the road in record numbers, guzzling only a third the gas of some of their SUV counterparts. Eco-friendly light bulbs now illuminate homes, conserving precious electricity. Organic foods fly off grocery store shelves and into reusable cloth bags.

As of late, everyone seems to be jumping aboard the environmentally conscious hybrid bandwagon, but is this new green fixation the beginnings of sweeping societal change or just the latest trend in our consumer driven culture?

Well, if history is any indication, I have to cynically go with the latter.

We are a culture with a short attention span. Issues at the forefront of our national consciousness come and go and rarely hold our interest long enough for resolutions to be made.

Why would the eco-friendly lifestyle craze be any different?

Remember 1984’s Band Aid? If you are like me, born several years after, you probably don’t. It featured a coalition of marginally memorable celebrities gathering to warble the forgettable (and not purposely funny) song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” resulting in 1985’s high-profile, international concert, Live Aid.

Band Aid and Live Aid sought to combat famine in Africa, an en-vogue social cause to support at the time. It was a noble and fashionable crusade for celebrities to fight for; however, like anything that is fashionable, it had an expiration date. African famine relief fell out of favor for a decade or two but, like so many fads of the Reagan Era, has come roaring back into style in the last few years.

See how it works?

The Band Aid and Live Aid efforts, sponsored by mainstream activist Svengali Bob Geldof, is all too reminiscent of the recent and equally laughable Live Aid efforts performed in the name of environmental conservation.

This month’s Live Earth show had the best of intentions. The international mega-concert performed from all corners of the globe aimed to shine the spotlight on an issue that affects all of us who call this spinning sphere home. And after years of eco-abuse denial from numerous major corporations that allegedly mistreat the environment in their quest for higher profits, some might even argue that it’s about time for an event like this to take place.

But Live Earth, in its glitz, glamour and excess – not to mention its lack of relevant performers – best summarizes what is wrong with the movement.

The movement is not about putting on a show. It’s not about driving a sought-after car or advertising your stylishly canny social awareness or even renting a certain Al Gore documentary.

It’s about making real choices in everyday life to better the world around us. Nothing drastic, nothing extreme. The point is to commit to a practical long-term change, not burn out a on the latest trend.

The media and retail chains will do their part to exploit scientific findings that make all of us want to go out and by new, expensive light bulbs and recycled plastic furniture. It’s up to us to do our part to not succumb to the eco-consumer fad, and instead create real, grassroots change.

Jenna Staul is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].