Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Consumption Conundrum...

I've been meaning to save this post for awhile, but the New York Times has an interesting piece on eco-shopping. And how green is being marketed as better for the planet, but on balance is it true. At the root of our economy and our existence is consumption. It's unavoidable. If you don't consume you don't live. It's like eating, which in itself is an act of consumption. But like eating, if you eat too much it has dire consequences.

So much of what is sold as Green is like diet products, they are products meant to act as a suitable substitute instead of refraining or choosing a better alternative. Is it better to have one regular oreo or three fat free ones. There is a metabolic answer (which can be equivalent if both have the same amount) and then there is for lack of a better word, a moral answer. Not so much couched in terms of right and wrong, but more in elegance.

Are all these green goods just false actions. We need to buy, we need to consume, but can we in any meaningful way consume responsibly to our current values, it truly is a consumption conundrum.

Think about it. How many purchases are meant to rectify things, instead of improve things. The Nobel Prize winning physicist Arno Penzias made an observation that the internet does make people more equal, it just amplifies existing differences. I'm paraphrasing, but the money quote was that if you don't know where you are going, having a sports card just means you get lost faster and over a larger area. Sports cars are great, but we've got to start figuring out where were going.


At 12:06 AM , Blogger Cindy said...

I always believe green consumption is still consumption. I will go for green alternatives when it comes to daily needs, such as dish soap, tooth paste, and food. But if I normally don't need an item and end up buying its green cousin, then I am just plainly greenwashed.

A while ago, there were all these media stories about this "I am not a plastic bag" designer bag. Apparently people fought with each other to get the canvas bag for $25. The general consensus of the articles was that if people wanted to pay $25 for a canvas shopping bag, it was still a "green" thing to do, because they would now avoid using plastic bags. Six months later, I can honestly say that I have never ever spotted a person using a "I am not a plastic bag" bag anywhere. Most people who actually bring their own bags in grocery stores use the store offered ones or bags collected over the years from conferences, trade shows, or other venues. So to me, this bag is a great example of greenwash. Green consumption is still consumption. Face it.


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