I have been hearing a lot of criticism from environmentalists about the problem of green consumerism. Many environmentalists believe that the onslaught of green products and gadgets is hypocritical and contradictory. If we truly want to be green then we should be reducing the amount of “stuff” in our lives and not adding to it with all these cool products that claim to be green. They may be green but that is not the point…we don’t need them…and buying stuff we don’t need is not green. Do I have that right?
Well, it is certainly true that we need to reduce our overall consumption. That applies to energy, products, food, etc. Living in this age of modern convenience has turned many of us into big time consumers. At this point in time though we are often buying the “wrong” things…things that are unhealthy for us and for our planet. But lately we have seen a very large movement in another direction…a move towards buying more of the “right” things. And I refuse to turn this into a negative just because we haven’t quite learned that we don’t NEED these things in the first place. Be that as it may it is STILL a positive!
I know that consumerism is a problem but come on now! I actually read an article recently about an environmentalist and the article harped on the fact that he had an MP3 player…as if that purchase defined him as a person and as a pseudo-green person at that. Another article belittled a man that lived a pretty natural lifestyle but he still liked to ride a motorbike on weekends and therefore he was not credible anymore. I get angry when I see these articles.
The fact is that many people have no desire to go live off the grid and drastically change their lives for ANY reason. But they are usually more willing to make small changes. Instead they may choose to reduce a little, recycle as much as they can, reuse a lot, and continue to buy the products they love…but they want greener options for those beloved products. And we want to crucify them for that? No….I won’t do it. Progress is progress!
By now I am sure we are all familiar with the fact that Wal-Mart now sells organic foods, products, and even clothing. I have many reasons for thinking that this development is not such a good thing but it still demonstrates something important. Why did Wal-Mart decide to start selling organics? I can think of two possibilities.
1. Wal-Mart saw a loss in overall profits due to the surge of organic consumers….
2. Wal-Mart saw that their profits may begin to fall if they did not find a way to cash in on this new market.
Whatever option you choose we are left with one fact. Organic consumers changed the way a major company did business…and the same thing can be said of “green” consumers. By voting with our dollars for products that are environmentally sound we are making those products more mainstream and we are telling the companies that make these products that the old versions are no longer what we need and want.
So while I can see that our consumption needs to go down I think that changing the range and availability of green products is equally important. Wouldn’t it be great if someday our children didn’t have to choose between toxic and cheap deodorant and the more expensive but safe deodorant like we do today? We CAN change the products companies are producing because they follow the money…they follow our money. Why not have them follow our money to “greener” pastures?