Pigs with Lipstick

In today's Daily Collegian, Nathan Pipenberg has a thoughtful op-ed piece about "green" consumption. As part of our Penn State community, we want to give him a shout out for confronting us with a real problem. A Penn State problem. A college student problem. A big American problem.
We’ve been convinced that buying the right things is the way to help out. But have we ever considered just buying fewer things, or even nothing at all?

I don’t think many of us have, because we’re addicted to consuming.

Levi’s Jeans recently rolled out a new line of pants that use less water in the dyeing and finishing process, according to Levi’s website. Cool, right? And they only cost twice as much as a normal pair of Levi’s.

What a steal.

Obviously, the truly “green” purchase here would be the $5 pair of jeans from Goodwill. But since we like to shop and we like new things, we allow Levi’s and other companies to convince us to keep buying. (Read the rest here.)
People at outfits like Adbusters and the World Watch Institute have been saying this for years: consumption is still consumption. And Americans consume too much. The rise of "green" consumerism is just another way to make ourselves feel better about using too much, as if marginally reducing energy and material inputs can offset barely controlled materialism. Whether it's advertised as a "green" cleaning product or a more fuel-efficient vehicle, getting on the hedonic treadmill of endless purchasing of s*** nobody needs (SNN) does vanishingly little compared to reducing your intake of stuff. No matter how you slice it, the unrestricted production and consumption of more efficiently produced and distributed SNN is probably just a way to slow down ecological devastation. And it does nothing to counteract the fact that heavy consumption does not lead to happiness. It leads to quite the opposite.

As they say, "You can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day it's still a pig." I think that goes for Nittany Lions too...even if they're wearing green lipstick.

No comments:

Post a Comment