“We went green last year.”

I’ve come across this phrase on a few blogs, most memorably on a ‘green review’ blog. To paraphrase, the whole thing went something like, “My family went green last year when we switched to all natural personal products.” Excuse me? You did what?

The ex-English major in me is freaking out over the use of the past tense. Or maybe the use of the word ‘green’ instead of the less sexy but more accurate ‘greener’ or ‘slightly less brown.’ As if becoming environmentally responsible were ever just totally finished and done with, much less the result of yet more consuming. (In fact, I’m also feeling distinctly dissatisfied with the name of my blog, because I’m probably not going to be green until I’m fertilizer. Bet you anything I won’t qualify as organic fertilizer either. Maybe I’m just in one of those moods.)

In my experience, being more environmentally responsible is an ongoing process. I receive new information. I’m shocked and upset by the reminder of just how much of of the problem I still am. Then I try to adjust my life to reflect my new knowledge. Or wait for the guilt to force me into action.

But the fact that people can confidently, blithely state, “We went green last year,” tells me that something has gone seriously wrong in the way the environmental movement is getting its message about. I have nothing against review sites, but they are all about consumption and endorsement of consumption. To think that you can simply swap all your personal products — by buying new things — and pronounce yourself done with greening is flabbergasting. Green marketers have clearly done their job well. Damn them.

The really sad part is that these are people who do want to reduce their impact on the planet, and probably would be willing to take more effective steps to do so —  if only they were aware that there is so much they could be doing. Sure, buying better products is a tentative step in the right direction, but the end-all of being green?

I feel sick. We’re doomed.

(For more rants on this subject, see the earlier post Why You Can’t Buy Yourself Green.)

2 responses to this post.

  1. In situations like that, I usually congratulate them for what they’ve done thus far. I try to suggest other things that they can do also.

    In most of the cases, the people have been appreciative. Now granted, some are just staying in the Green 101 wading pool but there are those that get fired up and are willing to make giant leaps into conserving our environment.

    Simply writing about the this topic, will help people out also. So, keep up the amazing work that you are doing. It’s inspiring, it also serves as a reminder to myself, that I need to put up some green posts too. 😉


    • Posted by ailanna on 07/20/2010 at 09:19

      Good idea (and much more productive than stewing in a morass of environmental despair). I’ve bookmarked your blog, too!


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