enjoy earth day, then forget about it

Hippie VW 1


The purpose of events like Earth Day is to focus attention on a particular cause – in this case the environment.
It spawns a lot of stupidity and meaningless lip service.  Why send Earth Day cards?  Or go to amazon and find great items like a 22 inch Earth balloon – nothing says Earth Day like plastic balloons.   Gestures will be made and hot air emitted by earnest speakers.

I am tired of much of the ‘new green movement.’ Ads for environmentally friendly plastic bottles (environmental benefit?  “Easier to carry!”) and ‘green writers’ who live in castles annoy me almost as much as cars that get 40 miles per gallon being touted as environmentally friendly, since they destroy the world half as quickly as 20 mpg cars.

Frugality, wealth-building and environmentalism all have a common cause:  consume less. I buy 2-liter bottles of seltzericon incessantly – but recycling them could never be as efficient as quitting my seltzericon habit, or getting a soda siphon.  A lot of steam will be expended on carbon-offset credits and recycling and new technologies, but the simplest way to be green is to consume less.  Eat less meat, in particular (read this link from Fox News, of all places).

I don’t think the current excitement about the environment, and consciousness about all-natural/organic/green goods is real. In the current advertising and interest I see shades of the mania about low-carb eating from the late 90s, when items like low-carb pasta were advertised without irony.  I count myself among the gasbags, by the way.  I claim to care about the environment, but in the past 6 years I’ve acquired two cars, a bigger house, bought countless plastic toys and generated two full bags of garbage a day, full of disposable diapers and non-composted organic waste.  I may do more when I finally move to a single-family home in Florida in June.  I plan to do more – continue growing vegetables and herbs, reduce waste by reducing consumption and trying to make small changes (siphons instead of 2-liter plastic bottles of seltzericon).

So happy Earth Day. I see a holiday that’s headed toward pointless commercialization – pop music, frisbee and gift cards for loved ones.  It’s a shame, because attention to the core issues of environmentalism benefit us all (except plastic producers), whether you believe in climate change or not.  I just hope it won’t go the way of Thanksgiving and so many other holidays and lose its meaning.

photo credit: Marshall Astor – Food Pornographer

9 comments

  • Chad @ Sentient Money

    I couldn't agree more. Corporations are abusing the “Green” label and, as usual, the idiotic consumer doesn't actually try to determine if it's really green. They just buy it, as the label makes them think they are doing their part.

    That being said, it isn't terrible that the awarness level has been raised and some real change has a chance of happening over the next decade. It took us a while to become voracius consumers. It will take us a while to drop back to reasonable consumers, if we actually do.

  • Insightful post.. Thanks.

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  • I find most of the greening of companies to be disingenuous. They prey on people who seek a magic pill to save the environment. The worst are the eco-friendly plastic water bottles, and the green Johnson & Johnson factory. Reducing our consumption is the real key to saving the planet.

  • I would take it one step further: Just ignore Earth Day altogether. It's pointless and a waste of resources unto itself.

  • No argument here, Steve, but at this early stage in our focus on living in harmony with the world around us (as opposed to preserving what is already an artificial nature), hype is not necessarily a bad thing. Remember the Gartner curves of technology adoption – hype, disillusionment, then real and productive use.

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  • Wanna buy a glossy simple living magazine with ads for the gadgets that make your life simpler? ;-P

    It's the same consumer think applied to the frugal sector. I suggest turning it around and applying frugal think to the consumer sector. I'm sneakily trying to sell this idea based on early retirement, in fact this is the main reason why I started the blog — 90% of people don't care or don't understand abstract concepts like depletion and ecological forcing, …. but maybe I should be more direct? Maybe there's a better way.

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