J500 Media and the Environment

Instead of Punk’d, celebrities should get Skool’d…in eco by kimwallace

I’m just going to come out and say it: I heart John Mayer.

Photo by Kim Wallace | I waited four hours in the rain to get to the front row to see John at Uptown Theater in Kansas City in 2005. In 2006, I saw him in St. Louis (but not as close). I’m planning to see him in Mountain View, Calif., this summer, if all goes as planned…

Now, you may be thinking, “What the heck does this have to do with our environmental blog, Kim?”

Well, I’m a crazed fan, and I really like to keep up with what he’s doing because he’s my favorite musician. I read his blog, his fan blogs and any other JM-related stuff. Laugh it up, chuckles. Laugh it up.

So of course it caught my attention when I learned that John was getting all emo eco on me. He played at Live Earth and partnered with Reverb, a non-profit that “educates and engages musicians and their fans to promote environmental sustainability” for his 2007 summer tour. He designs and sells eco-friendly (but expensive—that’s another post) tote bags on his website.

But John’s newest venture got me wondering a bit.

He’s partnered with ReProduct, a green greeting card company that prides itself on the reuse of its cards. John designed a collection of cards that are “made from environmentally healthy plastic.”

Does that even make sense?

But it gets better: Instead of chucking the card when it’s time to clear what you’ve hoarded and pack-ratted for months, you can send the card back to the company so that it may be re-purposed into Shaw carpet tile backing.

That means that USPS is going to be driving a ways back and forth and around to redistribute these babies.

I’m just not sure that the supposed eco-friendliness of this product outweighs what can easily be done with conventional, recycled-paper cards: Receive card. Take out money. Put card in recycling bin. Take recycling to the curb/to Wal-Mart recycling center. Spend green on shoes.

ReProduct could have saved so much paper by NOT encouraging the mailing cycle, and could have refused “healthy plastics” by using recycled paper—there’s enough of it to go around, right?

But did John think of that? I just wonder how schooled he is in the pros and cons of the sustainability market. Sure, I’m no expert, but it seems that if I was a famous person, I would want to think before I added my name to something “eco.” I won’t stop loving him for this, but I just wonder why he couldn’t have just designed a cool e-card for Care2 and said to hell with all tangible greeting cards, paper or plastic?

Do you think some celebrities are as schooled in the environment as they need to be? John doesn’t claim to be an eco-hottie, but you could put him in that category for the different things he’s been doing.

What do you think about the pros and cons of the sustainability initiative? Is it really give and take, as it seemed to be with the LEED video we watched in class, as well as this ReProduct company? Can anything EVER be zero-waste? Should companies be allowed to claim “zero-waste”? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

-Kim “I-Wish-I-Was-An-Eco-Hottie” Wallace


3 Comments so far
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Kim – I always sort of smirk when I hear about celebrities or celebrity musicians taking up environmental causes. I wonder how much of it is genuine and how much of it is contrived. Judging from your research John doesn’t really know what’s going on. I do think, however, there are some genuine efforts being undertaken under-the-radar that are encouraging. I remember being backstage at the Wakarusa Festival last year and being suprised how many of the musicians I talked to were using alternative fuels to power their buses. Granted there are a million problems with biofuels. The most encouraging part was that these sort of efforts were being championed by artists that had not really made it big yet (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are one example) which demonstrates to me that it was less a public relations move and more of an action taken from the heart.

Then again, what do I know? John is an eco-hottie, a label I’ll never need to worry about receiving. I think that sort of label empowers John to do whatever he wants. Dude can play the guitar too. I’ll give him that.

To close things, I just came up with a fantastic eco-friendly band name:

LEED Zeppelin


Comment by vincemeserko

I wonder about those things too (obviously), Vince. I think that celebrities help with exposure, but then you also have the “poser” mentality, too. I don’t think John’s an eco-poser, but I just wonder how well he (and his fellow celeb friends) are educated in WHY they should be doing certain eco things and if it’s out of genuine interest or political statement of just to be in vogue. For all I know he could have been doing this for a long time on his own…it’s just when companies start to approach is when I question. I think the biofuel thing has caught on with a lot of musicians, too, but then again—biofuels have their ups and downs.

I think this just begs the question of the give and take that sustainability offers—do this, it’s good, but this bad thing can also happen…ya know? I also don’t think it’s fair to say that only regular people can go eco and be true to it, and when celebs are eco, they are just making a fashion statement—we don’t really know, but our pessimistic minds lead us to think that way.

So back to the question of…is it good to have eco-hotties to further the environmental movement…sex it up a bit? Or does that make it very shallow/superficial/mainstream, etc.? Do we just take what we can get and run with it?

By the way, I would totally be in LEED Zeppelin with you. 🙂


Comment by kimwallace

I fell in love with John Mayer at that Live Earth concert. My sister and I turned to each other during his set in a sort of eco-epiphany and I kept hoping I would run into him backstage.

The card he designed is interesting. It is an example of cradle to cradle design in which the stuff we use becomes inputs for more stuff we can use. I like the concept – though I do wish we would just use less stuff. Yes, he could have designed an e-card and he may well do that, but he is also reaching a larger market by creating something tangible.

There are many reasons celebs and folks of all ilks are hopping on the green bandwagon. Some are more sincere than others. And it is very easy to ask why didn’t they do X instead of Y? I think we have to keep asking that question – and supporting the efforts that feel authentic to us.

As for research, I concur. We all need to do our homework. And I can say from my own limited experience with people asking me to endorse/ design/ support various initiatives, it is a challenge to stay on top of all if it and vet anything fully.

So, we all do our best and hope for the best. On the whole, consumers/ fans are getting smarter about knowing what is green and what is greenwash.


Comment by j500

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