What will you be doing tomorrow for Earth Day? Over the years, this annual event has turned into just a gesture, punctuated mostly by green marketing rhetoric. Even at the biggest green events, like the Green Festival held here recently in Seattle, the focus was on consumerism. "Over 300 eco-friendly vendors!"
You can't buy your way to sustainability, no matter what the manufacturers tell you. Sure, you can replace things with more ecologically sound products or you can choose to buy the environmentally friendly item over the conventional one and I'm certainly behind that. But...
This Earth Day's events include many a commercial bent rather than an environmental one. Sure, there are educational elements to them, but most of the focus is on purchasing items to save the environment rather on good old wholesome conservation. What happened to the Earth Day activities where you get together and plant a tree and discuss current issues and how to resolve them?
Yet, it all comes back to buying. What happened to just being? Back before everything was dirt cheap, there was a focus on quality over quantity, enjoying what you had and not buying stuff just for the sake of having it. We've discussed the slippery slope of consumerism in the Affluenza book club posts, and most of the people reading this blog have only experienced the age of Affluenza, not WWII conservation.
I suppose over the last year, I've matured from focusing on doing green things that tend to be product based, to really focusing on the necessity of products in achieving a greener lifestyle. It is extremely easy to get sucked into buying into a new lifestyle and there are tons of products and companies out there to help you purchase your way into greener living. But, when you step back, it's not really an improvement if you're still just purchasing stuff you don't really need. Even if it's environmentally friendly, you don't need those new bamboo clothes, the hemp shoes, the gadgets, appliances, tools and other things.
For the most part, with many products, even so called "green" ones, the environmental cost of manufacturing (energy, oil, mining, shipping, water and industrial waste) outweighs keeping your carbon-unfriendly version. And when that product goes teets up, you should really be considering whether you actually needed it in the first place.
Where am I going with this? Well, let's just say that I'm getting a little sick of seeing all the "eco" friendly products and articles in magazines, in the papers and on TV. These vendors are selling you the idea of green, but in actuality, you are just getting sucked in. Again. The message is a feel-good, placation of fears of global warming and all it's scary antecedents.
If you really want to do something for the environment, stop consuming. I don't mean stop eating or buying the basics for clothing and cleaning, just stop buying crap you don't need and end up having to get rid of later. If you really want to do something for the environment, pledge to Stop Buying. You'll find it a lot easier than you thought and with all the money you save, you can spend it on spending time with your friends and family instead of working hard to pay for your green, product driven lifestyle.