Dec 05 2008

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Going Green

Posted at 9:16 am under Blog Post

Everyone is going green these days.  I can’t figure out whether this is good or bad.  The optimist in me wants to believe that we’ve finally reached the tipping point in ecological awareness – that being green, once marginalized, is now going mainstream.  But I worry that it might just be a passing fad, no more profound than red handbags or thin ties.

Are we ready to trade our gas-guzzling trucks for hybrid cars?  After building millions of energy-sucking McMansions, is the average homeowner ready do downsize to a smaller, more energy-efficient dwelling?  Forgive me for being skeptical, but this is America for chrissakes.  Moderation is a dirty word here.

But green is clean.  Green is oh, so modern.  Green is the new organic.  When being all natural was countercultural, only young rebels and social dropouts were interested in it.  But now green appeals to everyone who has greenbacks to spend or a credit card to plop down.  Green is the kind of buzzword that makes advertisers orgasmic.  Its marketing possibilities are endless, and no aspect of the economy will go untouched.  Green can pick up where high-tech left off.  Better than that, green can be a new religion.  And every consumer is a potential convert.

In a culture such as ours, where consumerism is two-thirds of the economy, it’s foolish to talk about socioeconomic change without taking spending habits into consideration.  The Thoreauvian ideal of the simple life is fine in theory, but it doesn’t drive the Dow.  If we are serious about retooling our civilization, thus making it more environmentally sustainable for our children and grandchildren, then the greening of consumer behavior is absolutely necessary.  Still, I’m a bit leery about it.  Can we really spend our way to salvation?

Truth is, I’m a lousy consumer so my opinion doesn’t count when it comes to these matters.  Much to my wife’s dismay, I wear shirts with frayed collars, pants with holes in them, and shoes coming apart at the seams.  Most of my backpacking gear is repaired and/or outdated, and I scour the bargain tables of bookstores on a regular basis.  I’ve completely worn out a half dozen rusty cars.  The economy would unravel and civilization would collapse altogether if the average consumer suddenly behaved the way I do, so ignore my grumbling.  Get out there, open you pocketbook and go green!  All nature is counting on you.

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