Is the Green Movement Fomenting Consumerism?

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What could possibly be wrong with today’s green movement? After all, it’s good for the earth, good for our health, and good for our economy in the way of creating green jobs. However, there are a few pitfalls that we need to look out for.

On the positive side, environmental awareness and sustainable practices are evident everywhere you look. For example, the Dallas, Texas exurb of McKinney prides itself on its new focus on environmentalism. The eco-friendly city boasts the first sustainable WalMart with a gigantic 50-kilowatt windmill in the parking lot that produces 5 percent of its energy; the first LEED-certified Toyota dealership in the nation (Pat Lobb Toyota); and the first privately developed LEED Platinum office building. Other areas of the country are likewise experiencing a boom in eco-friendly practices.

But hidden behind the positive momentum lies an ugly tale of greed and deception. Companies who see green solely as that dollar bill in your back pocket have launched a myriad of new “green” products that are flying off store shelves. Consumers are buying green products in droves, believing they are doing their part to help the environment. But are they really? Or is it all just a shell game?

The concern centers around the question of whether these trendy products are truly earth-friendly. Are they made using sustainable manufacturing practices that have less impact on the environment? Are the products themselves all-natural and safe? And is the increase in packaging contributing to more carbon dioxide emitted in the manufacturing process and more materials being dumped into landfills?

Herein lies the concern. Is a new class of green consumerism that obfuscates the environmental movement’s position on conservation sweeping America? With all the green products out nowadays, it would seem so. Purchasing a green product then has the unfortunate effect of making people believe it’s the only thing they can do to help with the environment, and that they’re doing a very good deed.

In this regard, the growing wave of green products is, in my opinion, hurting the environmental cause. It smacks of companies more concerned about their bottom line than they are with caring for the environment. It is a diversion from the true message of conservation and sustainability, and it conspicuously perpetuates the very consumerism and materialism that has held Americans back from being more environmentally aware.

Overall, the green wave is good for the environment. With citizens becoming more environmentally aware by the day, and with green practices and interest in sustainable living being woven into the fabric of our everyday existence, we see a new day of conservation dawning. However, we should never allow the excesses of American capitalism to obfuscate the overall message of conservation and sustainability.

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