It Ain’t Easy Being Green, Particularly Once the Gap (et al.) Gets Involved

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So you want to start an activist movement. You spend years and years yelling and screaming about something you see as incredibly important. At first, no one pays you much mind. But then, all of the sudden, you’ve got the snowball effect going and everyone is hoping on board, which would be great although they’re convoluting the hell out of your message. Such is the case with this story in the NY Times yesterday, “Buying Into the Green Movement.” It’s a great read on the co-opting of a suddenly-popular activist movement and how the people who cared from the start are now trying to keep the message focused. Unfortunately, it’s seeming relatively impossible at the moment. Here’s some:

Paul Hawken, an author and longtime environmental activist, said the current boom in earth-friendly products offers a false promise. “Green consumerism is an oxymoronic phrase,” he said. He blamed the news media and marketers for turning environmentalism into fashion and distracting from serious issues.

“We turn toward the consumption part because that’s where the money is,” Mr. Hawken said. “We tend not to look at the ‘less’ part. So you get these anomalies like 10,000-foot ‘green’ homes being built by a hedge fund manager in Aspen. Or ‘green’ fashion shows. Fashion is the deliberate inculcation of obsolescence.”

He added: “The fruit at Whole Foods in winter, flown in from Chile on a 747 — it’s a complete joke. The idea that we should have raspberries in January, it doesn’t matter if they’re organic. It’s diabolically stupid.”