Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A recent article in a national daily suggests that the only 'true' way to be eco is to consume less (fly less, buy less and so on). Substituting our usual choices with greener ones is essentially a hoax and won't make any difference to the planet. Even worse, the article continues, green consumption is now a cover for over-consumption but with holier-than-thou/do-gooder delusion mixed in. By adding references to celebrities (including some generally loathed ones) that 'talk' green but continue (even some of the time) to lead rich-person lifestyles (private planes, multiple know the list) the article manages to roundly dismiss the value of green(er) consumption. Ain't no such thing - don't try and buy a dress produced under fair trade guidelines...doesn't matter. Just try and do without the dress.

So what do we have here? A good point very badly presented on a bed of misleading information....thanks but no thanks.

Yes, we really do need to consume less if we want to help the planet. Realistically though this is a meta-change that requires effort and societal change at many levels. As regular individuals it is often not just about our choice when it comes to consumption - we have schools to get to (on time), old parents to visit (in another country), growing kids to clothe (and re-clothe every few months) and so on. We must try to cut down and can only do what we can. Since green-celebrity loving/loathing is so big with the press, let me back up my views with Leonardo's “I’ve heard the stuff about artists flying everywhere, but we are also citizens. I do what I can for the sake of our planet but nobody is perfect. If I can influence anyone in any kind of way and get them to listen to these issues using my position, then that can only be a good thing.”

Now, is there really no point in making other choices that have to do WITH consumption, rather than its absence, if we want to make a difference. OF COURSE THERE IS! Believe it or not, hybrid cars do help, less plastic does help, buying from responsible producers does make a difference, how we dress ourselves can impact lives. Our power as consumers is very real. Its an imperfect solution, yes, but in an imperfect world, so lets just get down to it. There is no 100% eco solution but that should not stop us from choosing those from 1%-99%. Just get real about what's going on and get on with it.

Celebrities and 'glamorous' types attach themselves to any and everything but does that make those things intrinsically just about callow celebrity and status and devoid of any real worth? Only if you can't see beyond the celeb. We should be more concerned with whether we are teaching our children to turn lights off when they leave a room and doing something (anything) to support the working conditions of millions of women around the world (whose creations we so blithely don), than about whether XYZ CELEB's eco-credentials really mean something. Who cares? Even if you do care, feel free to rant about XYZ's personal ethics and NOT about the value of being green. In this case, go ahead, shoot the messenger because there is nothing wrong with the message.

Being a conscientious (including eco) consumer isn't an oxymoron and it isn't very confusing. And it's good for the planet. What are you waiting for?

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