Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jumping on the environmental bandwagon

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.

48 comments:

C & G said...

That is why the three "R's" start with "Reduce" right? Great post - thanks for reminding us to cut consumption!

Samantha said...

I remember on Earth Day in elementary school we'd all get a pine tree sapling to take home and plant. Every kid in the entire school would get one each Earth Day. (I kind of wonder where my school, which was a public school in a middle class area, got the money for that...) Anyhow, every year I'd get really excited about going home and getting to plant it; and every year, my mother would refuse to let me plant it. She said it would disrupt the pipes going into our house. I was always a sad little child at the end of Earth Day.

Jane said...

I was really thrilled when 1-800-junk and my church teamed up to recycle e-waste for Earth Day. I had two laptops both dead, and several old cell phones, batteries and a busted lamp to take. The proceeds will go to the March of Dimes.

Anonymous said...

CTDaffodil - who still can't log on....

I'm spending the morning helping my son's class make 'nest feeders' from small gauge chicken fencing and all the used lint and bits of string/cloth they could find (we also have a stash at the school) Then we'll be planting flower seeds for the kids to take home and care for.

I get totally chafed with all the 'green' sales. That said - my local iga is selling their re-usable bags 2/$1 this week. yesterday I was doing my weekly shopping and picked up 2 extras only because I had so many things we were out of I didn't have room in my usual 4 re-useables I bought at Giant in college and we are trying not to eat out during baseball season with the kids.
It kinda killed me to pay for a reusable bag when I had a big llbean tote at home - but I'll keep these in the car for those last minute runs to the grocery - hopefully cutting my plastic bag consumption. I really don't like seeing them blowing around in the treetops.

Heather said...

What a great post! Well said! No plans for actual Earth day, but I went to our local Earth Day Celebration on Saturday. They had booths up for composting and the local energy company was talking to people about reducing energy and rebates that they offer for solar panels, etc but....... I could hardly believe it when I saw it. The organizers had made up plastic bags with the Earth Day Celebration logo on it. Plastic bags? Ahh! Don't they GET it?

Wasteweardaily said...

No big plans for Earth Day as I feel I celebrate it every day. Maybe I will make a 100% local meal for dinner.
I have been successful at not buying *any* clothing so far this year. Since Feb 1st when I started my challenge. To add to that I am only wearing clothes that have been thrown out and are headed to a landfill. So I would add to Crunchy's don't buy crap you don't need, and say when you have the choice, buy used for the things you need. Especially clothing. There are so many clothes being donated to thrift stores that they throw out anything they have too much of or is out of season.
Cindy in FL

Deb G said...

Well said! Last night I was going through some "green" magazines I have in my stash and realized that it was mostly about what you could buy. Made me sad because there are so many other issues they could have covered, other ways that they could have approached the topics they were covering.

Sandy said...

Well said, Crunch.

Lora said...

As a new and improving greenie, I get the whole "buy this and you will be more green" temptation. I remember when I first saw the CFL bulbs in the stores. My first desire was to buy 20 and replace all of my current bulbs. It would make me more green...right? Save more energy, save the world. Thank goodness I had a moment of sanity while standing in the aisle. Throw perfectly good bulbs into a landfill? I am such an idiot. I bought a 3 pack. 2 to replace bulbs that were already shot and 1 standby. Now I am patiently waiting for another bulb to go so I can replace it. And since I now turn off all lights when I am not in a room and utilize as much free sunlight as possible it seems to be taking FOREVER. That is a good thing.

Chile said...

Our local Earth Day festival has also become a green-washing event. We were too busy doing green stuff at home to even make it down to the park. I suspect I won't be doing anything different tomorrow as I try to respect the Earth every day.

Greenpa said...

Yay Crunch. It seems to be a reflex, and not only in the US of A- as soon as we designate a day as a "celebration" - people will start finding things to SELL to celbrants. Turns into a positive feedback loop.

I do think "Earth Day" has been kind of lost in the shuffle, most places- which is why I wanted to launch an alternative. Let me get in an early plug for the Planet Picnic - which is supposed to be just an old-fashioned community picnic thing. That post has a ton of details- too many, probably. We did have ok participation last year- on very short notice- looking for better this year- building community.

Lynnet said...

I'm participating in four events for Earth Day week. Yesterday was a panel discussion at a local church about eating local food. Very well received. My husband and I are on a 100-mile diet, and I've just started a local bulk buying cooperative, and the word is getting out.

Wednesday I'll be at a little Earth Day fair at a large local employer, at a booth talking to people about local food. And Saturday the same, at a bigger Earth Day fair. (Yes, I'm sure there'll be a load of commercial crap there too...)

Friday I'll be a guest at a book club; the subject is
Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle.

Thursday we're having the first distribution day for the local bulk buying cooperative. We have over $600 worth of food coming in. (Actually about $1000 worth at today's prices, but we're paying $600). Should be exciting!

I hope I don't get left holding the bag (literally) for some of it. But I think we have some really top-notch people in our group, and they will be there for us.

So, things are moving here on the local food front. There is so much interest. Word of mouth is bringing in new people every week. Local food is such a win-win-win-win situation.

Theresa said...

We didn't go to our local Earth Day festival this year because we had a huge Spring snowstorm and decided to stay home instead. I went last year though, and there seemed to be a reasonable balance of things there - some drumming workshops, the tai chi demo that I was a part of, the Green Party booth, some live music, some vegetarian food vendors, a guy talking about solar water heaters, some holistic health practitioners, etc. But the whole Earth Day thing does have the potential to just be about buying stuff, and it seems like we need constant reminders to reject this idea. Thanks Crunchy.

Jenna said...

Crunchy, I have a question... My husband and I just moved into our new home and have been replacing the lightbulbs that are in all of the lights with low-watt energy efficient light bulbs... but what do you think I should do with the regular watt lightbulbs that we replace? They're still use-able so I feel wrong throwing them away... but I would rather switch to the low-watts and save electricity and money. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Bravo Crunchy. Great post. I couldn't have said it better. For earth day I will be planting my new garden and finding the proper place for my "new" cold frame that my husband made for me out of recycled lumber and an old window someone was going to throw away. I think that will reflect the spirit that the holiday intended. Debbie C

Mud Mama said...

My kids and I will be working on our little patch of earth preparing a garden. Next Saturday our town's botanical garden (local plants) is hosting an earth day seed exchange and we're going to that to see if we can get some heirloom varieties of potatoes and tomatoes. My daughter has repackaged a bunch of seeds we've gathered over the years for it. Seed saving and trading - thats my idea of a positive political action for earth day!

Mud Mama said...

Hey Jenna,

My advise on the bulbs is to freecycle them! Someone out there needs bulbs of any kind!

Just trying to be green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thingsyoudidntdo said...

Such a great reminder and very true! I recently read a book called Clutter's Dirty Secret which emphasized reducing the stuff in our lives as a way of creating more positive energy around us. My husband and I have been working hard to do that. I have been selling, donating or freecycling a lot of stuff around our house that we just don't need and which takes up precious space. And I'm really trying not to bring home anything that I don't need. It's tough at times but I've definitely reduced the stuff in our lives.

Great post!

Sandnmyshooz said...

great post! our big grocery is having a 2-fer sale this week on their reusable bags, & i probably will succumb...because i never remember to put my canvas bags back in my car after carrying in food from the store. i totally agree on less consumption: buy less stuff & then you won't need as many bags (plastic, paper OR canvas).

we skipped driving & light-railing to denver's green apple festival yesterday to just ride bikes. had fun, no crowds, & great spring exercise!

Alyclepal said...

For Earth day my 3 yr old and I are going to work on planting heritage veggie seeds. We will be able to save them and reuse them next year, etc. Kiss my butt Monsanto! We are planting to be as self suffient as possible:>. We are also going to plant an apple tree---good for the enviroment and good for our health with no food miles on this wonderful fruit. Small steps over here:>.

Karen said...

yes, I look forward to earth day ending so all the earth day advertising is behind us. I haven't decided what the kids and I will do yet. Maybe start our seeds inside - though the danger of night time frost seems like it might be over, New England spring is a fickle thing - global warming and all.

Monica said...

You said what has been on my mind for a while now.
For Earth Day, I will be starting my herb garden in my kitchen window.

ehmeelu said...

What I'm doing for Earth Day - emailing Safeway to express my disappointment that their "Earth Day Specials" in the latest email flyer consisted of paper towels, orchids and a selection of cleaning products of dubious greenness. The only green thing included was their reusable tote bags.

susan said...

we won't be doing anything specifically for earth day tomorrow, except maybe starting some more seeds or actually cutting the fabric for tote bags for my csa members. our community's earth day celebration is next Sunday, and I'm hoping to go. There should be someone there showing people how to hook rugs out of old t-shirts, and I'd love to learn how. My kids are really hard on their clothes, and it would be great to have a good use for the un-freecycle-able ones (goodness knows I already have enough rags). There are a couple of greenwashers in town, and they drive me ca-razy with their advertising.

kendra said...

Well said! I think there is a definate everyday beauty in taking care of the things you have. Cleaning what is diry, mending what is ripped. I remember going to a couple's house a couple of years ago who were young and didn't have much money. Most of their things were hand-me-downs and thrift store purchases, but because everything was well taken care of and tidy, their house had this wonderful inviting feeling. I always think of their house when I get the urge to buy new things. Just take good care of what you already have.

Tara said...

Oh, that kind of thing really chaps me too. I saw an add from some department store recently for a "sustainably produced bamboo butler's tray". Who needs this?? My husband and I celebrate very few conventional holidays, and I think I want to make Earth Day ours. I want to start our own traditions, that mean something to us. I'd like to celebrate Earth Day every year by eating an all-local meal, planting something, handing out seeds to people, turning our power off, etc. We do a lot of this already, and so we usually blow off Earth Day, but I think I'd like to start celebrating it OUR way.

pnwmom said...

For my local mom support group, I set up an event for us to meet and walk thru Flower World (Maltby, WA) tomorrow. The exploring is free, the place is close, and if the weather holds the kids will be able to see the chickens, ducks, lambs, and other farm animals on site.

Great post Crunchy! I've been having this discussion a lot lately.

Heather said...

I agree with so much of the sentiment here. I'm disappointed by the waves of green consumerism too. Especially because I think it breeds complacency about climate change, pollution, deforestation, and all the other problems our planet is facing. If the majority of people really think that they're doing enough by throwing out their current stuff and buying new greener stuff, we are all screwed. It's going to take a big more effort than buying things to actually live in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way.

Our local Earth Day Celebration (on Saturday) was just a big party in a park with vendors and stuff. I don't even know if it was carbon-neutral. Some of it was great (getting the word out about CSAs and bike paths) but mostly it was just a watered-down version of what Earth Day used to be about. There was no river cleanup, tree planting, or anything like that.

So...we didn't go. We saved the gas (as we lived ~12 miles away) and searched online until we found a local lake cleanup project to take part in next weekend instead. Huge fairs of information and vendors aren't necessarily 100% bad, especially for people totally new to all things environmental. But we wanted to DO something, and I guess that's not what Earth Day is about anymore, at least in our city. Consuming green = complacency.

Jen said...

Production of one new vehicle (hybrid and all) puts out the same amount of CO2 as driving the average vehicle over the lifetime of the vehicle.

So sticking with your environmentally unfriendly vehicle can be more environmentally friendly, especially if you reduce your driving.

stella said...

Our very green city had an Earth Day Festival in the park near our farmers market this weekend. There were garlic fries, lots of food vendors, useless crafts, t-shirts, and amplified music. My husband commented "I wonder what the carbon footprint is of Earth Day?"

Anonymous said...

I spent earth day hanging my clothes out (well, actually inside as it is pouring buckets and my dining room needed a new look anyway.) Of course, I spend most days hanging my laundry to dry so I will also be planting some of my herb seeds to get my sis started on an herb garden at her new to her house.
T.

ANewDay said...

I'm going to spend Earth day trying to add something new to our plan. I'm thinking of working out how to stop using our dryer.

I'm in an HOA so I can't dry my clothes outside because I might accidently drop the entire neighborhood's property values, apparently. The horror.

So hubby and I are going to do some experimenting in the house to find the best place for drying that is away from cat and dog access :)

ANewDay said...

Oh, I forgot, we are also going to a potluck that is put on by our CSA. This is our first year doing a CSA for our vegetables and has greatly improved out percentage of local food and our veggie eating since it really is better tasting.

I think we are making a quiche for our part of the potluck since we can make the most use of the veggies and eggs we get in our weekly box.

MamaBird said...

Hear, hear. Looking fwd to going to a local meeting about school lunch reform and an election results party, but nothing specifically for Earth Day. I think it's a nice vehicle for kids to hear about environmentalism tho much like Earth Hour. Unless it's buying your kid a green tchotke! Boo to that.

Mtn Canary said...

Good post! For us, being "green" is also about being wise with all our resources (i.e., money, too). That's the real beauty of it - you can reduce and save some cash, too. Good for the environment, good for my bank account. I'm all for that.

We'll probably have a pretty low key family celebration tomorrow. I'll probably go for a walk with the kids, maybe bake an "Earth Day cake". I have done a few things around the house in the past week for Earth Day, though. We hung an awesome laundry line - 50' of solar goodness. I've made some re-useable grocery bags out of old t-shirts that I got at a yard sale. I got cloth diapers for baby#3, so there've been no disposable diapers on his hiney for two weeks. I've also made cloth wipes for him (from a baby towel and receiving blanket that were headed to the consignment store).

loving green said...

Hey Crunchy!
Not that this is specific to Earth Day, but comes at the same time. I have been inspired by you, Chile, & Oprah to host my own extreme green challenge. Thanks for the inspiration!
Check my challenge here: http://love2bgreen.blogspot.com/2008/04/crunchy-chile-oprah-hmmm.html
Sam @Loving Green

Annette said...

What a wonderful reminder! I'm often amazed at how so many "natural" things--breastfeeding, attachment parenting, traditional cooking, etc--seem to require so many additional purchases.

Laura said...

I am volunteering with the Sierra Club and there day of Transportation Transformation. We are handing out Commuter Appreciation packets to people who bus/bike/walk/train to work. :)
http://cascade.sierraclub.org/node/1748

Consume less, cheers to that! :)

Robj98168 said...

I think I will put my earth day lights and an earthday wreath, made from 100% polysafe plastic. Then I will go buy a canvass earthday bag.
ONLY KIDDING!
Actually I will plant two tress I bought before the don't buy nothun' challenge, and 1 I recieved on my birthday. Then get nekkif and run around the neighborhood yelling HAPPY EARTHDAY!Yeah that will happen!

Melissa said...

excellent post. WEll done. Makes me think.

Rosa said...

We used to do the river cleanup every earth day weekend, but then our neice was born on April 20 and that weekend became another mandatory travel weekend, for her birthday (as if in retaliation, my son was born at the end of June and coopted 4th of July weekend for his birthday).

I may be doing a little public-land seed planting tomorrow...or it may rain too hard, and the seeds have to wait another day. We will see.

baby~amore' said...

great post - I informally joined your buy nothing challenge and I aim to keep it going but not to an extreme.
I pledge to stop buying excess and to declutter my home -using freecycle or donations etc.

happyhippychick said...

I shall be walking up to my allotment to water the plants with rainwater collected there, admittedly this ought to be a regular thing, but tonight is the first time i shall be going after work

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Hi CC,

We have all been subject to advertising 'Greenwash,' so may I direct you to my last blog post re a fantastic U.S. consumers Youtube video about this?

It had me creased up over the keyboard, so very funny yet so sadly true...

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

Great post. :)

We're hanging out at the park, picking up trash today, then planting a tree with the help of our kids tonight. :)

Happy Earth Day.

Green Ole Mommy said...

Amen. That is all that needs to be said dearie. Amen.

Robj98168 said...

Well I ran around the neighborhood nekkid and no one noticed- cept for 1 old gal who told me my suit was wrinkled.

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