Going Green, Eco-Chicism and the Stain of Sustainability
It’s Earth Day here in New Jersey, which is like having a one-day moratorium on gambling in Vegas. Eco Chic is shaking up and shaking down the world with a post-nineteenth century Shaker furniture blowout frenzy. The coffers of the climate control complex are also filling quickly with government contracts.
I love my planet earth and, due to my own failed attempts at capitalism, try to practice a Buddhafied version of material minimalism with strict ownership abstinence. Because I don’t have any money this is self-righteously easy for me, although I’m environmentally shame-based about the grey and soot-filled fact that I’m from New Jersey, America’s ecological Armageddon to the lower forty-eight.
Most of the Eco-Chicism marketing movement is not really about going green as much as it is about handing over greenbacks and creating a good feeling for the consumer who is not willing to practice less consumption. It works on the same model as the diet industry by assuring any glutton that his or her hypothalamus has been lying to him and they will supply the easy fix.
Hollywood has gone green, rappers have gone green; and Oprahlitic, talked-out, name the category, survivors have gone green. Celebrities, rockers, and politicians have reinvented their careers and become pine-scented, pundit guardians. Barbie, the breast-enhanced, dimorphic doll made in China has gone green; and Mattel marketed a new eco-perfect Earth Day outfit to mark the occasion.
Coca Cola has gone green, invetsting $20 million to clean up the world’s waterways, but they need to change the color of the can. Having chased indigenous people away from the village well for decades, Coke, an insulin resistant water fountain to the world, is still providing the liquid candy corn syrup while serving the pancreatic needs of global contestants every day on American Aspiring Diabetic Idol.
Weapons systems manufacturer BAE Systems, an 18.5 billion dollar a year company, has gone green as in lead-free, creating environmentally friendly bullets capable of blowing away you and your entire family’s carbon footprint in one arching ire of an eco-friendly machine gun.
The alliterative marketing phrase “Clean Coal” is an oxymoron as much as the myth of the new “green” American Christmas ecological idol, Frosty the Coal Man. British Petroleum is still BP, but now it stands for Beyond Petroleum, which will be true when BP sells as much oil as they can until it’s all gone. Then, like anyone experiencing a loss, they will have to get beyond it.
A convoy of suburban tree companies has gone eco-linguic with names like SavATree and Lawn Doctor, where the tree surgeon will perform triage on the ailing elm in front of the children and the family iguana before it’s Dutch Elm Disease time and into the chipper. Most of this wood goes straight to the dump, Eighty-Sixville. Many tree companies don’t even sell firewood any longer.
SavATree (a reputable company) has a subdivision called SavALawn, which approaches any yard like a social worker with an inner city youth interventionist approach. Warning – Fescue at Risk
The carnival barkers of the Green Industrial Marketing Complex understand that it is all about educating the consumer in one way: Either you’re for the planet or against it.
Environmentalism is the new secular global religion and the cash cow is mooing in the field. Akin to donating to the Tazered Children’s Swine Flu Handicapped Fund, the least an earthfidel can do is tithe to their eco-charity of choice with a vague, but wallet-willing understanding. (see Josh Dorman’s web site, The Lazy Environmentalist.)
All of this keeps me vigilant and guarded like a good cynic in a Green Sopranos episode “I got a problem with that” kind of way, making me a nature-loving, mob-tied, shovel-hugging guy with an apostate’s conviction and meadowland way of knowing to look both ways when crossing a one-way Turnpike.
I’d swan dive off the outer railing of the Pulaski Skyway for Gaia and whack out any polluters, then bury them in soft Pine Barrens sand after hitting them over the head again with a shovel.
However, like any seagull could tell you at an all-you-can-eat, Alka Seltzer-sponsored shrimp buffet at the Fresh Kill Landfill, this cabal is out of control. Something is not right. The Greenwashing movement is unsustainable.
The poet CC Guile once called this the sustained stain of sustainability. Big Organtha has launched a similar sales strategy in what Michael Pollan calls the Organic Industrial Complex.
“You can eat this organic banana now, or die poisoned by the other to be found dead in your dacha with your all-natural, hemp fiber, goat placenta tote bag lying by your side. However, the bag will get recycled unlike your stiff and toxic corpse.
Let’s face it. This planet needs people like animals need the zoo. If you really care about the earth, you need to get off the grid, live in a yurt and eat buffalo grass; or practice a pact of minimalism in the manner of poet and farmer, Wendell Barry; and then some kind of attempted husbandry such as sprouting your own avocado pit.
There is always the ultimate sacrifice I once saw advertised on bumper stickers in Boulder, Colorado: “Save the planet. Kill yourself.” Until I am gone or I flail off the railing of the Pulaski Skyway, I’m not buying any of it. I try to avoid the hype by keeping quiet in the woods and recycling everything.
Landscape artist, curator of ideas, Peter Soderman is the brainchild behind Writers Block and Quark Park. He is the subject of the film, American Landscaper.