There is more to preserving life on planet Earth than hemp jewelry! Now that the Green Festival is happening twice a year in SF, we think it’s time to ask some serious questions about the message that the festival is sending to the wider society- namely that if everyone drove a Prius, put solar panels on their home, and offset their annual flights to Thailand, that we could “save the planet.” The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.
How did the term “environmentally friendly” come to mean “slightly less environmentally destructive”? The truth is that human beings have the ability to be truly “friendly” to the environment, crafting a new reciprocal relationship with nature rather than the current exploitative one, based on wisdom from indigenous cultures we’ve nearly wiped out.
What would such a modern world that prioritizes environmental health and human welfare actually look like? How do we get there from here?
Though many of the individuals who put on the festival are well intentioned, trying to “green” a fundamentally destructive culture can only perpetuate the damage and delay real solutions.
Promoting false solutions like “green” cars and carbon offsets is counterproductive to the cause. With the threat of climate catastrophe looming, it really is all or nothing if we want to avoid dangerous tipping points. Nature-unlike the federal government- doesn’t do bailouts
We want to create a space outside the “Green” Festival where ideas about real solutions can be shared, music is made, dancing is encouraged, and a culture of resistance is nourished. Come and bring your ideas (to voice, or printed on leaflets). Bring instruments, signs, and other fun stuff. The space will be welcome to all.
At 6pm, the people will enter the festival to attend a debate about carbon offsets, and whether green capitalism is a real solution or a distraction and oxymoron.
Note that this event is not sponsored or condoned by either Global Exchange or “Green” America.
It will be what you make it!
Saturday April 10th 2010 12-6pm (speakers and music from 4-6pm)
Out in front of the Green Festival
635 8th Street @ Brannan
Guardian Article from last November
Blog post from Cheatneutral action at the Green fest
More info about carbon trading debate
Nowhere near SF but so entirely with you with being alarmed at generic greenwashing and palliative environmentalism.
I totally agree with you in spirit, but I would also argue that there are good things to be had from green washing.
Yes, it is not the ultimate solution to our larger environmental problems. I agree with you there. However, I think it is unrealistic to ask people to radically change their life styles and cultural and socioeconomic beliefs overnight. Doing things that are “slightly less environmentally destructive” is at least a step in the right direction. If you can start moving people in that direction, you at least get the ball moving. If you antagonize people and make them feel like small changes don’t matter, then you will never succeed at enticing them to join you in the search for real long-term solutions. You are only encouraging an “us vs. them” sort of atmosphere. I think we need a more positive message!
I think the true environmental sustainability revolution is going to take a lot of small steps and massive collaboration. If we all spend our time pointing fingers at the people who aren’t doing enough, it is counter productive. I would suggest working with the “Green” Festival to broaden the public’s understanding of sustainability.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post. And as I said, I totally hear what you’re saying. I hope the debate went well.
Hi Carrie- thanks for your comment. It’s not so much pointing fingers at people who aren’t doing enough- it’s ensuring that false solutions are clearly identified as such so that the public at large isn’t led astray when searching for green ways of living.
I would argue that carbon offsets (and carbon markets in general), electric cars, “clean coal” and overly technological solutions are all wrong turns on the way to the culture we need to create.
Well meaning people are promoting these dead ends, but it’s critical to remember that not-so-well meaning corporations are also promoting them to make a short term profit and do not care whatsoever for the impacts to living things like you and me.
We are dealing with powerful addictions. The message needs to be that the use of fossil fuels can in no way be described as green in an age of their excessive use. We are WAY too kind in excusing, rationalizing, and condoning their use even as the science and direct perception of the world around us tell us they have already led us into great trouble.
The social discomfort that exists when the climate issue is brought up in polite company should alert us to this fact. That discomfort needs to be amplified and confronted, not swept under the rug with false solutions and greenwash!
@Carrie – Gradualism and greenwash are not the same thing. I can recognize the value of small changes, and yes, they can lead in the right place. At other times, though, small changes are very cynically promoted (usually with a far-ranging marketing campaign) to distract and divert from making a real change.
At other times, greenwash will focus not on small changes but on something big and flashy, again to distract and divert.
Greenwash is never good. Not ever.