Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Green Paranoia

With the growing interest in environmental issues I have noticed the debate has also changed. Now, everything is evaluated for the real or perceived impact on the environment. People are analyzing every decision for a carbon footprint and finding that driving an SUV is better than walking, nuclear energy is the way to go etc. The premise is if you are powered by food that has a high carbon footprint you are doing more harm than good. I agree with looking at the impact individual decisions make all the way down the line and the impact along the way. I disagree with how it is applied to justify the consumer lifestyle in North America. That's a different post though.

I've noticed that when I buy things or do things that I am having some anxieties of the environmental impact of what I am doing. Analysis like the walking vs. driving have only made me more nervous about what I'm doing. By putting in all this effort am I just causing more harm and being sucked in by marketing? What will really make a change? I second guess almost everything I buy and do for the environmental or ethical impact. If I cut my grass what am I hurting even though I have an electric mower? Is this coffee really fair trade and does the extra buck a month the guy gets from me make a difference to him? I have a budget and if I buy this shirt because it is on sale am I a hypocrite? Is organic really better?

I realize the real problem is consumerism and I don't think mass consumption, like that in North America, can be balanced with the environment or ethical issues. Now what do I do? I don't think I'm alone in wanting to do the right thing and defining the right thing is the hard part.


Cathy said...

I remember when I was a college student, back in the 70s and a professor said to me (in response to my lament that I wasn't doing enough to conserve/help the planet/recycle/make correct decisions), "YOU are not the problem. It has to start with the huge multi-national corporations. Keep doing what you're doing, but remember, until the gigantic companies that do 99% of the polluting and advertising, etc., get the message or wake up or are put out of business, there's just not a hell of a lot you can do."

You and I need to focus more energy into helping people make better decisions. How? We can join groups that already exist. We can support groups like EWG with $$. We can do like Anonymous v. $cientology is doing: protest, be activists, get fliers out, leave cards with urls for people to find and pass along. There are so many ways we can influence what happens. But we must keep our spirits up, we must continue to have faith in ourselves and, above all, we must have fun while we're doing it. Again, take a lesson from Anonymous. If you haven't seen any of the recent videos, go find them. Keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight.

FeButterfly said...

Thanks for the great comment and words of encouragement. I really appreciate your perspective on this.