J500 Media and the Environment

Virtue is in the Green by carrieshoptaw
June 26, 2009, 3:57 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 2 | Tags:

 Virtue is in the Green 

Being Green is genuinely making the best choices for the environment as can be managed in everyday action as its own reward. The action of being green is not just the means to an end, but an end unto itself : I feel better carrying my reusable bags or buying local just because I know I should. environmentalethics

The motivation for ecological choices, individual or corporate, must be simply to lead an honorable life, company, society or country, with the only reward being the knowledge that future generations of  all the earth’s resources and species will benefit, perhaps even after no one here now is around to prove it. 

The individual can only be satisfied with his or her choices because the best choice, for its own sake as it relates to conservation, has been made with the best information at hand: The company can not act to simply to improve corporate standing and the individual can not act based only on a need to define themselves to others, around the subject of environmentalism. Those actions are helpful, but not authentically Green. 

If outside perception is relied on for validation, there are too many ways in which the will to continue can be interrupted. And though to act environmentally for the wrong reasons is better than not acting at all, surly once the shine has worn off the attention, so will the behavior diminish. In a 2005 article, David Roberts at Grist disagreed, stating that personal virtue isn’t enough to sustain environmentalism, because there aren’t enough virtuous people. He believes the structures of government and society are the means to environmental success. But those governments must be lead by individuals who will act justly around the topic of environmentalism. Classes on Environmental Ethics have wrestled with the concept for decades. 

To me, Green is thoughtful behavior that is its own reward. Green is not being driven to act environmentally by law, popularity or financial gain, but by choosing to do it. There are longer definitions, but this one seems like the best way to get started.

Carrie K. Shoptaw


5 Comments so far
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I agree. Future change depends on a deeper, more intrinsic commitment and motivation. The environmental ethics article you link to talks about the anthropocentrism (i.e., human-centeredness) of western culture. It reminds me of the natural self-centeredness of toddlers. Do you think as a greater society we’re dealing with a maturity issue? Do you think our society as a whole can “grow up” into one that recognizes they are not the center of the universe?

Cheri L.

Comment by CheriL

That is a great analogy! I’m not sure if everyone can do it, but perhaps if those who can outweigh the others, we’ll all mature through osmosis! I’m reminded as you refered to toddlers of my own two year old (twenty years ago!)who instead of replying “I can if I want!” to my behavioral redirections, would say, “I can if I can!” at me, so defiantly. We’ve got to stop defiantly doing things just because we can. I think you’re right, Cheri. That’s something that only comes with a level of maturity about our little place in the world, not at the center of it.
Thanks for writing!
Carrie S

Comment by carrieshoptaw

Hi Carrie:
Unfortunately, I have to disagree. I think motive in this context is irrelevant, unless the intent is to make yourself feel good about being “green.” The environmental movement started over 40 years ago, but it hasn’t really taken off, in my estimation, until the last few years. This is because of a convergence of factors, including high energy prices and technological innovations, not just because a group of people with pure motives got together and wanted to make the world a better place. Further, it is not individuals who are the biggest polluters — it is corporations, which are rarely driven by altruistic motives. Companies exist to make money. Therefore, by appealing to their base interests, they are more likely to change. However, I do agree that legislation has proved pretty unreliable when it comes to the environment.

Finally, as the Buddhists say, “What difference does it make what stream you follow, as long as you end up in the sea?”

Comment by IanN

Hi Carrie, I believe that the personal drive to lead an honorable life is extremely important when it comes to the environment. I also think it has to make sense for a person financially as well. Making environmentally-safe products within the same price range as traditional products is still a big issue. I’d like to buy products that are safer for the environment but sometimes it’s just not feasible financially, especially in this current environment.

Comment by jenniferedw

Ok, so I responded to your comment on MY post before reading YOUR post. Yep, I totally agree, Green is more of a personal behavior or attitude thing rather than specific actions. Seems the best definition, right now at least.
I do think some governmental standards/laws should help raise the bar on corporate level, but not an on an individual level…hopefully that would follow on its own.

Comment by davemd

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