Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: I'm Green! (A Registered Trademark and Patent Pending)

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Green! (A Registered Trademark and Patent Pending)

Last weekend, Jennifer and I were at the grocery store and they were giving away reusable bags they had previously been selling. We'd never been interested in buying them ourselves for several reasons: one, we didn't need them (we always carry stuff home in our backpacks); two, they cost money; and three; they're blue and say "I'm green" on the side.

Notice the registered trademark next to the phrase "I'm Green"?

Well, clearly the bag is not green, but nonetheless, I wonder if the statement is meant to come from the bag or its carrier. It's probably both and certainly more important to the carrier than the bag. I mean, what does the bag care if anyone knows it's 'green'? Then again, why should I care if anyone knows I'm green? Even if I did, having it literally written on my bag would not be my first idea; they may as well have been handing out halos at the farmer's market. But hey, I have to hand it to them for trying. That's more than could be said for some of the commentary on two encouraging pieces Jennifer found today.

The gist of it is that marketing firms are coming to recognize that the green-conscious consumers - or "greenfluencers" - are fast becoming an important source of information for companies looking to stay alive in the 21st Century marketplace; they are people like ourselves and many of our readers who influence one another and are sought out for advice by those looking to become more green conscious in their living, and yes, buying habits. Some responded to such news with accusations of greenwashing.

Be that as it may, let me first say that I don't care one bit WHY people do the right things, just that they do them. Kant and I will just have disagree. So, if it makes you feel better about yourself or you believe it makes a difference to wear environmentalism on your sleeve, I say "more power to ya."

Unfortunately, there are some who will point fingers and call it just another form of consumerism. Yet, these, I assume, will be the among the same people who are being called into focus groups for new product lines and telling corporations to reuse, recycle, reduce energy consumption, pay a fair wage, relocalize, and so on. Tell me, what's wrong with that?

It irks the hell out of me to read environmentalists complaining about greenwashing while they have the ear of the corporations. THEY'RE FINALLY LISTENING TO YOU and all you can do is play right into that stereotype that environmentalists are unreasonable idealogues who get a sincere kick out of being able to find something wrong with anything. Yet, our camp needs them too; any camp does.

It is just unfortunate to me that with all the emphasis on environmental problems and social injustice, we sometimes forget how we, too, are tied to this system whether we like it or not. Few, if any, of us are prepared for a collapse of the economy, the political system, or the environment - let alone any combination of the two (or three). So, while consumption has been bad for all these sytems on the whole, it is also part of the system which sustains us. To cease consumption as the most ardent environmentalists would have it, leads to an inescapable market crash in a growth economy (which is pretty much the whole world now). Then, of course, there would be political consequences, and who knows where we come out on the other side of all that?

So, let's take our time here and try not to bring a host of disasters upon ourselves at once. If corporations are looking to become more sustainable, I'd rather they come to myself, Jennifer, or many of our readers for advice on how to do that than some suit who's only looking to make a buck and move on. Even if it's doomed to fail, we'll have done good by funding the construction of alternative systems and infrastructure.

If we, as environmentalists or proponents of sustainability, believe in working with natural systems as opposed to working against them, we should be reminded that consumerism is, for all intents and purposes, a force of nature - one we can use to our advantage if we allow ourselves not to be blinded by a hatred of the system as a whole.


romina said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more. it seems that being "green" is more fashionable by the day. Are we really being told to consume less? Or just being told to consume different things, without reducing consumption? It is smart marketing.

Wet Blanket said...

Oh, it's very smart marketing, indeed. But with a largely dumbed down population, the only way to get lots of people to do anything these days is to make it fashionable. And the punk in me wants to go litter somewhere 'cause being green is sorta my thing, but now that everyone else is doing it... Well, at least I can stand against the wall with all the other cool people who were doing it before it was popular and talk about how the johnny-come-latelys are doing it all wrong.

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