All across America, people are jumping on the solar-powered environmentalism bandwagon. From reusable grocery bags to “squiggly lightbulbs,” consumers will buy pretty much whatever industries tell them is “green.”
In his book Eco-fads: How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the environment, Todd Myers, environmentalist director at the Washington Policy Center, maligns many “green” products and policies as what they are: a way for Americans to continue consumption without any real lifestyle changes.
It seems that, in our self-image obsessed society, where one’s self-worth can be defined by favorites, likes, and retweets, people just looooovvvveee to show off how much they care about the environment. Myers illustrates this by citing politicians and businesses: “. . . politicians prominently highlight their latest green proposals and business owners promote environmentally friendly products — while each seeks to reap social and financial rewards in the process,” (“How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the planet,” Seattle Times). Myers even references a survey in which hybrid owners admitted that they owned “green” cars because they “liked what it said about [them].”
Myers exposes several instances in which so-called “environmentalism” has been less than successful. He mentions a Washington-state requirement, which demanded that new schools be eco-friendly; however the new schools were later found to consume MORE energy than the old ones.
The issue with environmentalism is simply the overarching problem that is seen with “locavorism” and any other trend which catches on with the American public: we don’t want to change. In the article “It’s Too Easy Being Green,” writer David Owen christens this phenomenon “the Prius Fallacy: a belief that switching to an ostensibly more benign form of consumption turns consumption itself into a boon for the environment,” (The Wall Street Journal).
It’s time for a change, America. A real one. Not just coffee cups made from recycled materials or more efficient dishwashers. It’s about making an actual sacrifice to keep this planet beautiful and, more importantly, SAFE. That means we need to do more than make cutesy innovations to popular products, we need to re-evaluate our resource consumption. But what’s it going to take for Americans to see that we need to fundamentally change our ways? Maybe people are going to have to see the residual effects which our consumption can have on our health and safety before anyone tries to make a real change.