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it’s not easy being green

June 8th, 2006     by Thea Lim     Comments

I recently saw An Inconvenient Truth, and as a bicycle-riding, dirt-eating, fruit-juice-drinker, its a relief to see the rise of green politics in mainstream media. Even before the movie was released, the buzz around it had publications tripping over themselves to be the first to report on the environmental revolution. Vanity Fairs much publicised first green issue featured Julia Roberts talking about the chlorine-free diapers she buys for her twins and the eco-friendly policies of Arnold Schwarzenegger the politician.

Its now official that green products have been unleashed on every aisle of the grocery store. We can buy countless organic products at Loblaws, and even Starbucks sells shade-grown coffee. The internet is well stocked with websites to feed the new green addiction. One of the biggest of these is, started by Canadian Graham Hill. Its a massive directory of sleek yet sustainable products, from companies like Terra Pass that help you to neutralise your cars carbon emissions, to reviews of the latest ecologically-correct loft communities to be built. The websites slogans include Do the right thing. We wont tell anyone.

But theres something about this re-packaging of healthy living that is distressing. The deluge of eco-friendly versions of everything seems to be a response to the perception that though the public is fearful that were annihilating our planet, at the same time were pretty sure that theres something distinctly un-hip about caring for the environment. These products seem to be crying out, Hey! Our aesthetically pleasing packaging makes it okay to buy us! But whats so wrong with trying to preserve our only source of life?

Last years craze was the naming of the metrosexual, which made it okay for straight men to use moisturiser. On the one hand we can be glad that life is now a little bit less restricted by prejudice. On the other hand we have to ask, why are straight men so afraid to labelled queer? If the term metrosexual is implicitly homophobic, then the new and fervent marketing of green is paradoxically eco-phobic.

If things are in as bad a state as Al Gore says they are, it seems like its going to take more than being better recyclers, and keeping our tires properly inflated, to halt the melting of the ice caps. Yet even Al Gore seems hesitant to entreat his viewers to make real sacrifices for the sake of our imperilled ecosystem. After his persuasive and cogent presentation of the facts, the action he asks us to take use your dishwasher less and car pool is a definite anticlimax.

Its difficult to be happy about the so-called new green revolution, when ultimately it just seems to be a marketing ploy. As well, its inaccessibility to the vast majority of the world who cant possibly afford these products, highlights its biggest flaw its not willing to confront the painful fact that our way of life, particularly in the affluent West, makes life for the rest of the biosphere basically unliveable, and completely unsustainable. Green consumerism, the medias swarming of sustainability, and Al Gores soft-ish sell all assure us that its easy to be green. But it isnt. Our way of life needs to undergo massive upheaval, if we want there to be a planet like this one in forty years and were should start by shaking that fear of being unfashionable.

Now am I just being pessimistic, or do you agree with me? Please, comment!

Tags: in my opinion...

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