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Thursday, July 26, 2007

While the yuppies go green, Lake Erie goes bye-bye

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 2:15 PM

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Is going green the new black?
If you happened to catch the front-page story in today’s Plain Dealer and actually found yourself caring about the warming and shrinking of Lake Erie, you probably asked yourself what you could do to stop nature’s eminent death. Buy a hybrid, maybe? Replace all those light bulbs with fancy fluorescents? Or maybe purchase a super-stylized recycling bin from Ikea for all those empty bottles of Smart water -- maybe in cerulean blue, to accent your candy-apple-red Energy Star coffee maker. While all of the above options make for fun weekend shopping sprees, one columnist at The Guardian argues that your green purchases will do little more than show your friends how much cooler you are than them.
The media's obsession with beauty, wealth and fame blights every issue it touches, but none more so than green politics. There is an inherent conflict between the aspirational lifestyle journalism that makes readers feel better about themselves and sells country kitchens, and the central demand of environmentalism - that we should consume less. "None of these changes represents a sacrifice," Sheherazade Goldsmith, author of A Slice of Organic Life, tells us. "Being more conscientious isn't about giving up things." But it is if, like her, you own more than one home when others have none. Uncomfortable as this is for both the media and its advertisers, giving things up is an essential component of going green. A section on ethical shopping in Goldsmith's book advises us to buy organic, buy seasonal, buy local, buy sustainable, buy recycled. But it says nothing about buying less.
Unfortunately, when we hear about the demise of such beauties as our fair lake, there are few options for bettering its sad state other than splurging on lavish hemp bags and overpriced organic apples at Whole Foods. While turning off the lights is a start, most green-going has to do with how much you’re willing to spend. Those new spirally light bulbs sure are awesome, and your old college buddies from Hampshire will think you better for buying them. But you do have to throw away the old ones, right? And just because you’re buying environmentally friendly detergent at $40 a gallon doesn’t mean others aren’t hitting Wal-Mart for the affordably foamy shit. We do live in America’s Poorest City™, after all. – Denise Grollmus
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