Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Less Is More?

Writing in today's Guardian (but unfortunately nowhere to be seen on-line), our old friend George Monbiot rips into "Green Consumerism" saying that it never suggests you consume 'less' and only focusses on consuming 'better'. His saves his particular disdain for the well off telling us how to live our lives from the comfort of their country piles (where they have space for their own cow).

As usual I half agree with him. While I agree that most of the 'ethical living' press is promoting the "keep on buying and save the planet" message, there are several ways that you can spend as much as you like and be eco-friendly:

1. Buy second hand. Most of the novels I read have been sullied by other eyes. I have no qualms about walking out of a second hand bookshop with bulging bags of paper diverted from landfill. My partner indulges her clothes buying urges by trawling charity shops and simply returning what doesn't work out in practice.

2. Buy services rather than products. Pamper yourself with posh haircuts, massages (not that kind, cheeky), yoga, keep fit etc, etc. If you're filthy rich, employ a cleaner, gardener etc. Rent DVDs or watch pay per view movies rather than buying lumps of plastic.

3. Buy very low footprint products such as MP3s, ringtones, eBooks.

BTW: my favourite part of the Monbiot article is his reference to the mountain of 'ethical' shopping bags by his front door. We have got at least 4 - 3 more that we need really...

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2 Comments:

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Nice post.

Are not carbon rationing and green consumerism two sides of the same coin? Or at the very least, is not green consumerism the first step in a shift to make carbon rationing acceptable?

I am firmly in favour of personal carbon trading and believe that the traditional arguments just don't stack-up.

In fact I recently blogged about this exact thing here: http://tinyurl.com/2scnhk

In short: Personal carbon trading is an idea whose time has come. You can’t expect it to solve problems of inequity which already exist in the world - the rich will always be able to buy themselves a way out, and survive catastrophes better than the poor. That’s the nature of the capitalist society in which we live. But properly run, the scheme would protect the fuel poor, and allow low carbon consumers to make money from the rich.

In fact, the great thing about personal carbon trading is that government sets the outcome - a reduction in carbon - and the ‘price’ rises and falls depending on whether consumers change their behaviour. So the more people simply stick to their lifestyle and buy their way out, the price rises until people think it is better to reduce their carbon use.

Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/2scnhk

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger greenfyre said...

Apples and oranges, Monbiot speaks of consuming, you speak of spending; related, but not synonymous.

Monbiot is right, we have to reduce our consumption.

You are right, spending is OK as long as it does not increase consumption.

But you missed the most obvious and green spending options, donating to environmental groups, parks, supporting tree plantings and development. The best way to be a green spender is to spend it on the planet, not yourself.

 

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