Green from all the Green? - Our Daily Green

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Green from all the Green?

As we approach Earth Day 2011, Our Daily Green hears more and more backlash and rumblings. ECOSiZE Me just wrote about someone telling her they "[were] tired of having "that" [meaning green] shoved down her throat". Meanwhile, Our Daily Green has been half-heartedly trying to put together a post for Earth Day this year.

There is so much greenwashing and overly marketed corporate attempts at green that many folks are just fed up. Slap a label that says natural on a product and dye the packaging green to try to fool the consumer. The frustration becomes huge and many people are simply rejecting green. Naturally*, this makes Our Daily Green a bit dejected. The language around living in an environmentally conscious way has become convoluted and warped to the point where many believe it futile to try. Consider what chemical-free, clean, renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, and recycled actually mean. These words are meaningless when used to market a product rather than actually make a change.

We've lamented recycling plastic bottles in the past, as such recycling does not produce bottles again, but rather an entirely new product. In order to get new plastic bottles to recycle, we must strip the earth of more resources.  Consider the changing of a network television logo "green" this week, instead of the usual multicolored peacock. The green movement is becoming as insidious as the pink movement for breast cancer. Slapping a coat of paint on something, even if such paint is chemical-free or natural, doesn't make it any better for the earth or the environment. It simply makes products green-colored, which can lead to green in the face.

We frequently receive mail and articles from friends and readers that gives use pause. Yesterday, we received two links to humor sites that parodied green living but also underscored the skepticism surrounding green. Corporate greenwashers often give lip service to the environment in an attempt to sway consumers to purchase their products.  Another piece about ways people try to save the world that don't work also struck a chord. Issues such as buying carbon offsets, antibacterial products, recycling, and skipping vaccinations were addressed.

The piece likened carbon offsets to "...buying your girlfriend a bracelet after a night in the champagne room, it's debatable whether you are doing anything except paying to clear your own guilty conscience." The only point in that particular piece we took issue with was that organic food was a waste of our time. The argument was made about how inefficient organic farming is. Personally, we would rather study ways to garden more efficiently without chemicals, how to maximize the usefulness of the space, than douse it with chemicals and genetically modified seeds. We're chasing the wrong way to be efficient.


The rest of the criticisms were taken in stride. There is a lot of useless activity and meaningless gestures that have been slapped with a green label. It gives true stewardship for our planet and its resources a bad name.

Where does this leave the green-hearted person? Do we simply throw our hands in the air and declare if we cannot beat 'em, join 'em? Our Daily Green hopes not. Our hope for Earth Day is that instead of celebrating the planet with green balloons and paper plates, we instead embrace a celebration of mindfulness. Genuine change is not something we can buy at the store that is marketed by a corporation that thinks we are stupid. Such change comes from within. We know when we're being too lazy to fill a water bottle from the pitcher or faucet or wipe up a spill with a towel that isn't paper. We know when we buy junk food in a biodegradable wrapper, that we aren't really doing anything.

This is a gut instinct if we stop listening to the commercials and advertisements. If it feels wasteful and tastes like chemicals, it is. If we cannot pronounce the ingredients on a food package, we probably don't want it circulating in our bodies. For example, an ill conceived promotion by a major food company encouraged folks to eat prepackaged stuffing mix that was stuffed only with fake food stuff and chemicals instead of a potato. Really? What is in a potato that we cannot pronounce? If you have to throw something out after one use, whether on the roadside, a garbage can, or in a recycling bin, is it really something worth purchasing?

Common sense is a much more common than we give ourselves credit. It's time to turn off the televisions and stop letting corporate powers tell us what is good for us and the planet. Listen to our common sense and we'll all feel a lot less green in the face and lot more natural.

Happy Earth Day!

Courtesy of:  Mean Joe Green Mohr Cartoons

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