From Consumption to Greensumption

Where did we go wrong?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The same business as usual (BAU) economic growth model is being applied to the green “economy” in the same way as it is and has been to the economy in general and based on the more, more and more principle.

Almost everywhere you care to look in the green market place greensumption is beginning to be king, if it is not already thus, and we have just replaced one form of consumption with another.

Shopping tote bags made from sail cloth (recycled) for just under ninety bucks is just one of those ripoffs that are going on.

Advertising is now going all out for leather with green products or, worse still, greenwashed ones.

Then there is a stupid device called the “Eco-Button”, hyped by almost all green media. Did they test it like I did? I should think not.

And this goes on and on, such as with the reinvented glass bottle in which to carry your tap water for around twenty bucks.

The biggest problem, as I see it, it that people flock to buy those goods at those hiked prices.

Wind turbines and solar panels to buy is one thing but to buy a “recycled” bottle vase that's no more than an empty wine bottle with colored cotton string wrapped around it in the way that Hippie kids did it in the 1960s and 1970s for the equivalent of over sixty Dollars is stupid. But people do and do pay the high prices that are being asked for those products.

While I do not begrudge anyone an income from upcycling waste into goods that people want I do object to the marketing used and the prices charged.

Seeing those prices it is little wonder that those in the lower income brackets think that they cannot do their part in being Planet-friendly.

More emphasis must be put on enabling and empowering those low earners to be able participate in being green by teaching them green DIY; how to upcycle, for instance, without needing to consume.

This is something that I am trying to do with my book “Let's Talk Rubbish”... soon to be published.

But the green marketplace is general is all about consumption and, as said, we have just changed one kind of it for another.

This is not how many of us who have been in the green movement since the early days thought it would ever end up.

The hope had been to get away from the addiction to the more, more, and more economic model that requires and ever increasing consumption.

We have gone from “ordinary” consumption to “green” consumption or greensumption, running the “green economy on the business as usual (BAU) model, without any change in behavior.

I also have problems with supposedly green products that are, for instance, “Made in China”, the the same world factory as all the rest, and shipped across the globe in the same way as ordinary goods.

Green to a great number of businesses seems to be the ticket to another market and section of market and is a bandwagon to be jumped upon and also a prefix to -wash.

Many companies are very busy greenwashing themselves and their products and services and even the fossil fuel and nuclear industry tries it.

There is now talk of “clean coal” and of how green nuclear power is as it has no CO2 emissions. Right, OK, no CO2, but what about the radiation danger and real threat from the buried burnt out rods and such? They do not want to talk about that, it seems, and the government is as bad on that level. They too are promoting nuclear power as green and the “new” coal as clean. I guess they could even paint Hitler and his ilk as benign. “Clean coal” is as much as misnomer of the same magnitude as is the term “common sense”.

There are the likes of N-Power, an electricity generating company, wholly owned by Germany's RWE, who in their sales pitch claim to be a wholly British company and only doing green energy. RWE has more nuclear plants than anything else and the same is true with EDF. However, such outright lies are being used in order to con the unsuspecting public.

How did this happen? Simple. The old system was used and just painted green. That is how and why it happened and too many people in the Green Movement must have been asleep or simply, because they are not economists, did not realize what was going on and is still going on. Some are also, I must say. Very naïve indeed when it comes to some of those issues and seem to think that a little green is better than no green at all.

Many so-called green- or even eco-stores too participate in the greenwash exercise of the companies and products by never, it would seem, checking our credentials of firms and products. The hyped but useless “Eco-Button” is one small – pardon the pun – example here. It is, however, not the only one. Bamboo fabric and -flooring is yet another one of those and is also total and utter greenwash.

I have yet to find a green-/eco-store, whether online or on the high street, or both, that does not have the same problem and no action is even taken by the stores when the truth is pointed out to them. In other words, rip off is king; or so, at least, it would appear.

Companies such as Walmart, Kimberly-Clark, Clorox, and others are in a confederation of sustainable companies, etc., thus trying to have the consumer believe that they are green and doing something good for the environment.

As far as Kimberly-Clark is concerned nothing could be further from the truth seeing that company's record as far as the destruction of the Canadian boreal forests to make into toilet paper and paper towels, as if recycled paper could not be used for that.

We must get away from being drawn into a new round and type of consumption, regardless as to the fact that the goods sold here are recycled or otherwise supposedly environmentally friendly and such like.

Greensumption must stop and it must stop now and we must come to our senses finally and realize that the green economy must be based on a different model than the old one is and has been.

© 2010