Losing the Battle of Words

This may come as a surprise to some of our readers. But I’m coming out against “going green.” That’s right, I think every single person should turn to the governments and corporations with green initiatives and go :-P. Being Green once meant something, it involved a concern for the environment, an awareness, and a choice to do no harm. Now its a clever marketing campaign. So, fellow concerned humans, we have lost the word Green.

Am I over reacting? Aren’t these initiatives a good thing? Yes and no. They’re a good thing in the sense that its something. At the same time they are the most damaging attack on the environmental movement in history, because it leaves the uninformed believing something productive is being done. But since these changes are little more than a bandaid on a broken leg. What these so-called “Green” companies are really doing is soothing a finally somewhat-riled populace back into complacency. A complacency that essentially gives these corporations and governments a green light to go ahead and do whatever they want, so long as they bill it as being environmentally responsible.

Frostburg State University recently began its Green initiative. I’d give you a link and the name of initiative but it has had seven names in as many months as they endeavor to come up with something clever. They ordered fancy plastic recycling bins, and overruled an suggestion the school simply put stickers on the trash cans they already have. They are buying a increasing percentage of their electricity from so-called renewable sources. They brag amount how much it is, because it shows how serious they are. Too bad they aren’t serious enough to turn the computers off on the weekends.

Organic food producers are generally viewed as being a highlight of our generation’s burgeoning awareness. Unfortunately, Organic(TM) is owned by the government, not by the movement. So organically grown food has to meet certain standards, but the reality is many times the animals and plants live no better or more sustainably than the industrially produced versions. When there are local, family farms treating their animals well who cannot legally claim their food is organic. “Free-range” chickens often live in a barn their whole lives. They’re “free-range” because during the last week of their lives a little door in the back opens up on to a 2 by 2 foot pen most of them never find and couldn’t fit more than a couple chickens. In the mean time, birds kept in a chicken tractor do not qualify.

The next time we have a phrase, we need to trademark it. That way it can’t be twisted out of our grasp and made to serve consumerism.

– Benjamin Shender



  1. Billy Duvall said,

    July 19, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Once greed enters a system, it ruins it.

    Billy Duvall

  2. Aaron Sedgwick said,

    July 21, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I agree. It didn’t take me long after reading into sustainable living and permaculture to realize that I need to do this myself, rather than assuming corporate america suddenly has a green thumb.

    Also, I’m pretty sure you meant “losing” and not “loosing”.

  3. Aftermath said,

    July 22, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Yes, yes I did. Although I have to say, it works either way.

    – Benjamin Shender

  4. July 30, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I’m with you on this. After spending a day at the Oregon Tilth Conference this winter, I came away with the realization that the “green” movement is becoming just another piece of corporate jargon and marketing. The bottom line is that sustainability can’t be mainstreamed like any other commodity. In fact, true green-ness involves a basic alteration of the mainstream itself, a total shift in our thinking – not a shift in what we are marketing.


  5. babesinarms1 said,

    August 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for writing this. You’re bang on. Two aspects always strike me: one, the media’s usual pathetic job of reporting on these initiatives, which just furthers the problem of public confusion and complacency, and two, the resistance of the general public to do anything that would actually make a huge difference. It’s been hard enough to get people to change to fluorescent light bulbs (which aren’t even that “green”!) – but composting toilets, lowering consumption, sticking close to home instead of traveling, eating locally grown food – sometimes it just seems like such a huge hurdle to get the public on board with these things. I wonder what, and how long, it will take.

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