03 May 2011

Just Say 'NO' for Earth Day

Earth Day events in New York have traditionally been the result of many concerned citizens voicing their fears about the damage done to our life support system, a bit like the raucous 60s we all like to remember so fondly. The centerpiece event at Grand Central Station has always had the same manic feel that we associate with “the good old days.” And of course, it’s difficult to maintain momentum in spontaneously organized, issue-based grass roots organizations, especially as they accumulate staff and equipment.

Strolling around the Earth Day exhibit at Grand Central this year, I was struck, not so much by the environmentalist fervor of the event and participants, but by the mercantilist nature of the event. Leggy, breathless blonds touted the efficiency of washing machine/dryer combinations (as if a dryer were not the most earth-unfriendly device made). A life-sized mural of models, photographed in a “life-style” manner, urged us to buy some brand of apparel “for the good of the planet” (buying organic cotton is good, as cotton is the crop on which the most pesticides are sprayed). Toyota was there with the Prius, which is unavailable, due to the seismic sea wave (not tidal wave) and accompanying nuclear disaster. And there were a few moms and kids milling about with crayons and happy faces. But the overarching message (maybe I’m a cynic) was: buy Buy BUY!

I’m the first to believe that we can change the world by careful choices of what we buy; as a matter of fact, I think it’s ultimately the only effective vote the individual has. Our real problem is heedless consumerism, on every level, whether it’s buying the new iPhone or leaving the lights on, it’s our consumption binge that is the problem. That means you and me.


Dr. Susan Rubin said...

I, too, was disappointed with what Grand Central had for it's earth day fair. I had brought one of my daughters down to see your fracking photos. Other than your work, the rest of the presentations was all about BUY buy buy!

Labann said...

An unholy collusion for profit among automakers, Big Oil, churches, government, and multinational corporations perpetuates despoilment and war. They have indeed invented medicines and technologies extending lives, but at what cost? Advancements have been realized in almost everything but ethics and environmental protection.

Anything bands of individuals can do to boycott would only leave them defenseless against the countless enemies these fat cats create. And who would enforce a Kyoto protocol?

Until materialism is overthrown, people will continue to think of freedom as something related to "getting and spending", which does nothing but waste human potential. Humankind is at a crossroad. A new paradigm is needed. But as Deming always said, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."