J500 Media and the Environment

Dear Kansan, be green by brennad87
February 19, 2009, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

I wanted to share this Letter to the Editor that I wrote. Sadly, before I wrote it, I had no idea that Kansan staff (and I guess as I am a columnist, I am a staff member) can’t write letters to the Editor. Also, as a side note,  I mention three of Amanda’s articles. Amanda– you are a great writer and I appreciate that you are writing about these issues. This is more a critique on the nature of the whole movement, as I think I express.

How truly green is the green consumer?

How truly green is the green consumer?

Dear Editor:

In a time of economic crisis, the Kansan should take a lead in truly defining the word “green.” As Courtney Brenamen said in Thursday’s article, Environmentalism on the decline in 2009, “The less you buy, the greener you are.” The Kansan seems to have missed this point. The front page story of February 17 was How to eat sustainable sushi. The main story for February 11 was How to have a green valentine’s day. These stories are about what to buy in order to be green. It is not just the Kansan sucked into this trend—from Sigg water bottles to canvas shopping bags, the current environmental movement is tied to consumerism.

You can see here exactly what Americans are thinking about.

You can see here exactly what Americans are thinking about.

The issue? We are in an economic downtown. If being green is misconstrued and marketed as an expense or a luxury, then people worried about finances will never go for it. Already, the financial crisis has taken its toll on the environmental movement. In a recent report by Pew Institute about the top twenty issues are important to Americans, the environment dropped to number 16, falling 15% points. Concerns about the economy rose to number 1.

But being green is so much more. Being green is about conserving energy and living sustainably. Being green is about saving money by consuming wisely and limiting the waste we produce. Yet people don’t seem to understand that. One example is the response to a Lawrence Journal World Poll. The poll asked if we need a director of sustainability. Seventy three percent of those polled said no, citing the cost of creating a position as the reason. What those voters don’t realize is that the director would be charged with looking for ways to cut the city’s energy bill and to make use of resources more efficient. In the end, the hiring of a director would probably cut overall costs, not increase them.

In these times, we need more stories about how greener lifestyles can save us money. If we really want to be a cutting edge paper, we would offer stories like that. We would show students not where to buy luxury green goods, but how to reduce their carbon footprint AND their gas bill. (363)

–Brenna Daldorph, junior, Lawrence


4 Comments so far
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You can write a column about this if you can’t write a letter to the editor!

When I took this class last spring, my group’s final project was to make a proposal to make The Kansan more environmentally friendly. I still have it, and it’s something I hold dear, even though it has kind of bit the dust.

What specific ideas do you have? Obviously I’m not on staff anymore, but I’d love to help you out if you want to try to get something implemented.

Comment by Lauren Keith

I wrote all those articles you mentioned… including the one about the Pew Center report. The thing about writing for the Kansan (and has been made very clear to me by my editors) is that every story I write has to have something that ALL students at KU would want to read, not just people like the ones in this class. The sad truth is that most 18-24 year old here probably don’t care about the deeper issues. That’s the kind of stuff they want me to write. If I don’t have a specific student voice in my articles, I’m not allowed to write them. That makes it difficult to write about larger issues sometimes. If you have any suggestions of how I could get around this and write things that mean a little more, feel free to let me know!

Comment by amandat09

Amanda– The issue is huge and all-encompassing. You are doing an amazing job struggling daily against what our entire class is focused on. Our current society is so twisted vis-a-vis food and the environment. That society begats KU students. The opinions of those students begat mandates like that of your editors at the Kansan. How can we stand up to that? It might be a question without a response.

As a side note, I will be working with you on the recycling story as your very own multimedia reporter. Let’s do some brain storming. Also, never think that I don’t value your presence at the Kansan. You do great work!

Comment by brennad87

You say: “The sad truth is that most 18-24 year old (sic) here probably don’t care about the deeper issues.” I challenge you to reframe this and consider how you can connect to what your demographic cares about. The environment is everything, therefore the potential for connection is limitless.

Comment by j500

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