Artificial Flowers

You can imagine, outside any pull of nostalgia, a time when the internet was just a novelty. Before companies began to dream about monetizing our personal data. Before political campaigns began to mine that data for habits and proclivities, before our vulnerability to having weaponized popularity used against us (if only for a few minutes)… you had, what? Techno-utopianism is perhaps the saddest kind: dry, unfulfilling, obviously not harmless. But the gamed-out essence of online anonymity maxed into inflated presence with no actual power behind it beyond its allure brags a special brand of nerdy cache. With computer technology we began trading in a kind of currency we had never considered before we were already doing so. That’s why it was new but felt so familiar.

It’s not old, or merely similar to other things, as some have suggested; being online was definitely new, again, if only for a few minutes. And it wasn’t just the DandD kids, it was everybody – work made use of it. And news! Watch videos, anytime! Buy stuff… uh oh. We just took to it so naturally, the sleight-of-our-own-hand felt redeemable. The ease itself took a natural form, comfit to the future that had yet to deliver flying cars or even dependable jetpacks.

I share books and records with certain friends, and I still think ‘virtual reality’ is a hilarious phrase. There are artificial flowers, have long been, and they still have no scent. All the stuff we used to be able to do with maybe the exception of spelling, we can still do. Yes, smart technology makes you dumb. If you get a little out of shape, you must exercise. If you get a little too far removed – from people, from politics, from real food, from ammunition that doesn’t come in a box – move back into town. Register to vote. Get a library card. Go to the bar.

Green is self-renewing, even our own cabbage-truck-just-fallen-ness. It’s still pouring, but postdiluvian world number TWO lay just steps outside of this ark. Now what’s that tapping? Oh, it’s just the Raven.

Massive Eco

As in, “check out the eco on that chick!” or “He’s got an eco the size of Kansas.”

That is, these don’t refer to a nice set of ta-ta’s but a sort of dialectical framework that, when and where necessary, might be detectable from the outside. You might identify yourself with/by something as benign as carpooling or as radical as making your own clothes. The continuum here is not based on the relative merits of either one in opposition to the other – which may be considered greener, for instance – but in opposition to more conventional, energy-intensive ways of doing things. The question is not does it make a difference, but does it make a difference to you. Because we don’t wake up one day and decide to start looming our own thread; but over time, we do consider things like where we live, how much we can use alternative or mass transit, what kind of roof we are going to invest in for our house, that kind of thing.

Those kinds of choices, where we pause to consider the externalities related to our decisions, are the ones that will send the most durable signals. This flies in the face of green advertising, though it has much the same aim. Instead of a particular product or company, these more-general types of choices begin to play a larger strategic role in cutting down our GHG emissions and getting back to somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 ppm, mainly by establishing multiple routes to these goals.

So, of course I’m joking about ‘massive’ – because it’s more about smaller, individual-scale choices that will have giant ramifications, and effect the public attitudes around you.

The point is, know what you think about this stuff and why you live where you do, buy what you buy (or don’t) – because unless it was your own idea, then it wasn’t and someone gave to you, effectively deciding for you. Whichever side of this point you’re on, everything else flows out from there. By taking some control of what you think and why, you won’t feel so cynical about vain attempts to save the world from far-off problems like those effecting the climate, nor so horribly pained by the antics of the idiot caucus. I promise.

On Buying Green

That sounds a lot like On Golden Pond. And, with a little change of emphasis, it could be… Buying Green, Putting Green… Village Green. I love the village green. Anyway.

Here’s a piece about consumers buying green products, how we’re doing, why we’re doing it, etc. I don’t know how you read it without it reading completely weird. I mean what are we talking about?

  • “Dark green” consumers tend to be older, more well educated, and more affluent than “light green” consumers
  • They also tend to care more about what is in “green” products (all natural, organic, non-toxic) and how they are made (such as by socially responsible companies)
  • “Dark green” consumers also tend to be more thoughtful about their purchases, often planning them ahead of time. “Light green” consumers tend to be more impulsive, often buying green products out of curiosity

See? Totally weird; important (for me) to remember that this is not what we’ve come to – it’s just where we are now. Companies? Yes we consider them. But what are we buying when we purchase things? Must our achats symbolize our moral purity? Wait, before you answer that – one possible scenario:

Are we buying convenience? Durability? There’s a difference between, let’s say, buying cleaning products and jeans. If you’re buying clothes, you’re rifling through a whole number of characteristics, none of which likely have to do with sustainability. Or do they? Better-made clothes last longer. We might buy less of them. It’s a way… wait a minute. We weren’t even trying to be green – we just, hey… there are different ways to accomplish similar goals. Are there other reasons? Ewww. Can we not drive, buy local, eat well or hang out clothes to dry just because we like to do these things?

Even or especially with clothing, we don’t have to call it green or anything. But we do. Because the choice will help the environment and that’s why we would buy it… well no, it isn’t. The environment isn’t the only reason we would buy things that last longer, or buy less of them. Or shop in our downtown instead of W*lmart, or from farmers at a market. We do these things because we like to do them. They are meaningful in their own right. It’s a corporate world and we need the slogans. But our needs here in the 1st world are actually quite simple and directly correlated to things we like: we like to do things that are enjoyable. And have gotten off the path to enjoyable things for exactly to demonstrate the power of advertising.

So these things of value, to us, these are the benchmarks. Now, consider all the other stuff that we buy, and whether you think ‘buying green’ is necessary to change any of them.