Selected Article

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What it means to care

It looks as though only a few years ago the idea of caring about one's impact on the environment was laughable. But now things are different...
It looks as though only a few years ago the idea of caring about one's impact on the environment was laughable. The first hybrid cars were only available in select countries, and if you happened to own one, you probably had your share of people looking at you funny.

But now things are different. Nowadays, we all seem to care about the environment.
But do we really ?

The issue of the environment is certainly discussed everywhere, and for whatever activity, there is a greener way. You can buy cars that are ecologically friendly, you can buy ecological groceries, you can buy a hemp grocery bag to reuse every time you shop... it's really a 'Green culture' that's been introduced into our lives.

Unfortunately, what this green culture has brought along for the ride, is a heck-load of Guilt. Sure, people seem to care more about the environment, but they do so massively because they've been told it's Wrong otherwise. It's like when everybody you know starts religiously following a band you've been listening to for years, only because they just realized the singer is hot. It's good for the band, but the reasons are all wrong. Now here's why it matters:

Say your neighbor recently got into the hype of the green culture. He went ahead and bought himself a nice hybrid car. In fact, since these cars are so ecologically friendly, he bought another one for his wife. And since most of their driving is in the city, they manage to get by almost entirely on the electric supply of their cars. They successfully reduced their car-related carbon emissions to a near zero, and they feel quite proud about it.
What your neighbor did, is nothing but pay himself over-priced peace of mind. While his transportation relies only on electric power, he still has to plug his car at night to recharge the batteries, and that, using energy at the local plant, which probably isn't green. Effectively, your neighbor shifted his carbon emission and the responsibility that comes along with it onto the plant manager, but in terms of ecological contribution, he did practically nothing.

Alright, so what's the alternative ? I'd say, if you want to help, go all the way. For your neighbor, I'd suggest installing solar panels on his garage, so that when he comes home at night and plugs in his car, he makes sure he's using green energy, and that he's not just buying himself a guilt-free night of sleep, but that he actually is helping. As for you, this applies to everything you do. Don't gloat about recycling if you leave the water running for nothing when you do the dishes. Don't feel good about yourself for riding your bike to work on fridays if you drive a V8 engine the rest of the week. Caring for the environment is not about compensating for all the harm you did during the week, it's about doing your best not to do any harm at all.

But where does it end ? What if the manufacturing of those solar panels, or car's electric batteries turns out to require a process that emits a lot of greenhouse gases ? What then ? Where can we stop worrying, and say that it is no longer our responsibility as consumers ?
Well I believe that's a tricky problem, and a heck lot to worry about if you want to do things the right way. But here's what I think is a good compromise: Don't buy something just because it says its environmentally friendly. Don't forget that being green is 'Hip', so a lot of brands will market themselves as 'green' while they only shift their responsibility one step further down the line, but contribute nothing.
So be a smart consumer, do a little research. It helps. Not just you, the environment too.

post a comment

Recently On Topic