Blinded by the Lite-Green

October 27, 2009

Bookmark and Share it shock you to find out that even if you adopted the No-Impact-Man lifestyle and created zero waste, and you even convinced your local businesses to recycle you’d only, at the most, impact waste by 3% ? What if you discovered that 90% of all water used was coming from agriculture and industry and that taking longer showers really has minimal effects on water consumption? I tell you one thing, I’d shift my focus from turning the water off while I brushed my teeth to stopping the largest offenders. Any strategist would tell us the same thing: when it comes to saving the environment from “ourselves”, a lot of us are wasting our good intentions on a misguided idea that it is truly ourselves (individual “consumers”) who are ultimately responsible for these problems. Ideas and films like No Impact Man shift focus away from the real causes of global environmental crisis and allow industry and government to slide by, unnoticed.

The truth is so much scarier, and it’s easy to see why we have retreated to personal solutions; it’s easier to change a light-bulb than bring a multinational corporation or the military to its knees. So in the end, while we can all pat ourselves on the back from a puritanical perspective, many of us are just running around doing a lot of nothing under the impression we’ve used our time and energy wisely. I was so offended when I first looked into this. I didn’t want to believe that all that effort I made in my personal lifestyle choices were ultimately having very little impact on the problem at large. I didn’t want to admit that my efforts would be better leveraged in other areas.

Lite Green is the most mainstream, most digestible, and most corporate-friendly incarnation of the environmental movement (if you even want to call it that). Bright Green, with celeb advocates like Adrian Grenier, proclaim that, sure, you can drive your H2 through the McDonald’s drive-through, so long as you remember to bring your canvas bag and reusable coffee mug. It’s the movement that allows us to believe the contradiction that we can buy our way out of the hugest crises we face. Bright Green is so bright it’s blinding people to the real problems. In his August 2009 article for Orion Magazine, “Forget Shorter Showers” Author, Derrick Jensen asks:

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

The values of conserving, reusing, and protecting what’s left are amazing, but if we are to solve the ecological and social problems we face, they must be brought their their logical conclusions. This is not a call to stop caring or to stop living simply with more compassion – it’s a call to shift focus away from what industry wants us to focus on – buying more stuff that’s labeled “green” and filling our days with behavioral rules. Let’s not confuse personal choices and social change or political revolution. Let’s start with reclaiming our time and energy and shifting our focus to the real problems, getting together, and doing something about it.

Fresh Friday Finds

April 17, 2008

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1. Sample sales are almost like shopping thrift, right? It’s all the leftover stock that really has little impact on the supply and demand of most designers. Well, maybe that’s just my rationalization for allowing myself to go buy stuff at them. What do you think? Are sample sales still conspicuous consumption? If we consider the standards they set for how people should look (maintaining social hierarchies based on glitz & glam), in a lot of ways, they’re like ‘humane’ meat; there’s not enough to satisfy everyone, and they make those who can participate feel a little less guilty about engaging in an ultimately destructive social behavior. No Impact Man‘s wife, Michelle, recently experienced a hunger for retail therapy. Read the story here.

Maybe Go to: BBlessing Sample Sale – NYC
Up to 80% off BBlessing, Rag & Bone, Adam Kimmel, and Patrik Ervell.
Fri. & Sat., noon-7 p.m.
5 Crosby St., b/t Grand & Howard Sts., ste. 6d (212-378-8005

Definitely read: Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic

The All-Consuming Epidemic  (2ND ed.)<br>de Graaf, Jo

When Purchasing Books, I strongly recommend supporting local independent bookstores. Use as opposed to the not-at-all-ethically-fabulous Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

2. Papal Passover. The Papal visit makes me think of those clergymen who wear Yarmulkes. I’ve always wondered why t wear them if they’re not Jews? This leads me to thinking about Passover! If Passover is about the Jews being liberated from slavery, my four-questions are: How is tonight related to animal liberation? Do Jews have a duty to recognize slavery in all its forms and attempt to liberate the oppressed? Can something besides a hard-boiled egg, a bone, and honey be used on a Seder Plate considering their exploitative origins? What’s a vegan to do on passover? Sit and cry into a bowl of Matzoh meal? Read this!

Attend a Vegan Seder

Vegan Passover Guide for Hungry Jews

Miami Herald Talks Veg Seder

Should Passover be Veg?

3. Time Out’s 2008 Eat Out Awards puts Blossom at the top of their Reader’s Choice list.
(Other nominees: Candle 79, Counter)“There’s a reason feijoada—a Brazilian beef stew—contains meat: It’s a beef stew. So when a vegan place like Blossom offers a “lighter version,” made with smoky tempeh, black beans, chayote and sweet potatoes, you’re allowed to be skeptical. But those animal-friendly ingredients make the hearty dish taste that much better.Upscale while keeping its crunchy cred, the Chelsea restaurant does protein right: Try the satay (with seitan), the scaloppine (more seitan, with white-wine caper sauce) or the dancing curry (tofu and veggies, served with popcorny forbidden black rice). You can’t go wrong—but you already knew that.”

(A few years back, I was the first waiter ever to work at Blossom!)

4. London’s First Vegan Footwear and Accessory Shop Opens
Bourgeois Boheme, one of the UK’s most well-known online and animal-friendly fashion companies is Matt & Nat Zebranoopening London’s very first animal-friendly footwear and accessories retail outlet. On May 17th 2008, just a couple of days ahead of UK National Vegetarian Week, Bourgeois Boheme will celebrate the official opening with an open day at the shop in Richmond, London. Bourgeois Boheme founder and Director, Alicia says, “Unless you shop online, vegetarian footwear is difficult to find: it’s a dismal choice of either low-quality, cheap and environmentally-challenging shoes or Stella McCartney – gorgeous fashion no doubt, but very much beyond the pocket of many a style-conscious vegetarian/vegan.” Visitors will be able to buy Bourgeois-Boheme’s exclusive labelled styles as well as ethically sourced products from otherMacbeth Jackson companies; not only footwear, but also bags, wallets and belts for women and men, and cosmetics.

Shop open day: Saturday 17th May, 1pm – 4pm.
Refreshments and appetisers will be served.
Please RSVP by Friday May 2nd May, /0208 8788 388
Press discounts are available upon request at the shop open day.

Address: Hydrex House, Garden Road, Richmond TW9 4NR
Shop hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm; Sat 10am – 2pm; by appointment.

Bourgeois Boheme’s range is available to buy online at

5.Luxury Hotels and Resorts “Act to Save the Environment” with Eco-Friendly Hospitality.

According to the International Ecotourism Society, more than two-thirds of U.S. travelers consider “active protection of the environment, including support of local communities,” to be part of a hotel’s responsibility, while 70% would pay a premium to stay at a hotel with “a responsible environmental attitude.” Hyatt is taking action.