J500 Media and the Environment

Yabba-Dabba-Don’t Think So by Lauren Keith

Photo by Lupin le Vorace, flickr.com

People who recall the four Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, remember this phrase for the rest of eternity) might be a little curious about how we can reduce our impact on the planet by consuming more to make ourselves feel sexier.

When I think of making something sexier, it usually involves pushing products, especially in the fashion industry. We’ve got to get everyone buying organic, buying sustainably, wait…buying?

Unfortunately, I don’t think Earth is going to recover from global warming by indulging in a little retail therapy.

But what could be sexier than creating and buying sexy things that we already made in the past?

Like this lovely necklace from 10,000 BC:

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got, she’s still Wilma from the Bedrock block.

Or how about these lovely, organically produced dresses made from recycled plastic bags and bottles:

Available in all your favorite colors, as long as those colors are blue or white.

Forget dependence on foreign oil. Tone your Middle East with this alternative energy:

Is not compatible with E-85.

And with that mentality, why don’t we just throw out everything that requires electricity? Why don’t we stop breathing so that carbon dioxide emissions will decrease? Why don’t we just tear down our apartments and build houses out of sod again?

I must have forgotten the last R: get Real.

Global warming can’t be solved from sex-ifying a green lifestyle by encouraging consumption, especially of goods that aren’t locally produced. Instead, maybe we should look at reusing old, unsexy things to create new, eco-friendly items. Then we are sticking to at least three Rs and feeling sexy.

I might be up with cavemen, but everyone else is down with living like the Jetsons. Unfortunately, I think they got lucky enough to escape to another planet that isn’t on the path to destruction.


—Lauren Keith

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5 Comments so far
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I think commercial interests will lob on to anything that they spot as potentially sexy or profitable. That gets tricky when certain lifestyles or identities feel they are being co-opted by big commerce. Everyone that’s ever had a cool idea has probably experienced this. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though if it promotes innovation and is favorable to the environment, but I agree “buy more stuff to save the planet” sounds like a coercive scheme to me. It really boils down to how much the population is willing to alter their lifestyles, are able to perceive marketing concepts with adverse effects, and make a conscious effort to be efficient and resourceful with the objects they already own. The idea that we can’t marry commerce and environmentalism is probably a bunk theory. It seems like a lot of the failed experiments in eco-friendly business is attributable more to poor implementation, design, and management than it is to the actual concept itself.

Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

What a great post!

I think we all tend to forget that “reduce” is the first R. But, I don’t think that environmentalists should shun consumers who want to go green. No, I don’t think you can buy your way green, but I do think that if you are not willing to make the lifestyle changes (cleaning with Borax, vinegar and lemon or walking to work every day) you should support environmentally friendly manufacturers.

I also think that it is important that people who are new to the green movement be educated in why organic/sustainable/renewable, etc. is better, hipper and cooler when they make their purchases or change their living. Nobody is born an environmentalist, and the green initiative is not an exclusive club. We need to spread the word to everybody, even the lazy environmentalists and the consumer-chic environmentalists, so that we all have a clear understanding as to why we are doing what we are doing: to save the earth!

Kim Wallace

Comment by kimwallace

I concur. What a great post!

Sarah Hemme

Comment by shemme

Yabba-dabba great!
I always add the 4th R of Rethink or Re-envision – which I think is a key part to turning away from consumption. You are right, we can’t save the planet by buying more stuff, but it is the first point of entry for many people and can’t be underestimated. And of course, the President told us that the best way to help restore economic confidence after the war began was to “Go shopping” so this is not an original perspective on the part of business!

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Great analysis–but don’t forget that Fred worked in a quarry, robbing the earth of essential minerals simply to line Mr. Slate’s pockets, and that he eventually benefitted from the help of a diminutive space man who granted Fred all sorts of goods and services without having to purchase them himself (and space travel itself must leave a major carbon footprint).

But other than that, I think you’re on to something–might be something to pursue in graduate school. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to walk down a long corridor in my house, passing the same table and lamp over and over again…

Ranjit A

Comment by rarab

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