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Green With Ennui: 4 Ways Eco-Mania Wears Out Its Welcome

Organic or local? Fuel-efficient hybrid or used car? Will your plastic water bottle kill you? And, FYI, biofuel, which sounded so smart a few years back, could destroy Asian rain forests.

Sigh. Americans have been inundated with information since environmentalism went mainstream with An Inconvenient Truth and "green" became buzzword. It's possible that weariness is what's polluting our air and a backlash is a brewing.

The New York Times calls it green noise. Too much information on constant rotation. Some of it is contradictory. Most of it is vexing. And it's all overwhelming.

But this influx of pro-environmental info isn't just overwhelming people, it could be annoying them. What makes it so counter-productively obnoxious? To find out four ways,


  1. Marketing Ploys
    Green is chic! Civilized. Enlightened. Like public radio and brunch. Or so advertisers would like us to believe. In 2007, Americans were between 22 and 55 percent less likely to buy green products than they were in 2006. Market research found people rolling their eyes and saying "not another green message."And let's not forget those ploys that are just bizarre and the marketing against the marketing. I need a nap with an organic blankie.
  2. Conflicting Information
    It seems every new piece of information contradicts the last. One man interviewed in the Times article flipped a coin in frustration to settle on his new car: a used Ford Escape hybrid. And then his brother, who works in the solar-power industry, asked, “Where are you going to bury the battery?” Oy!

    And I'm not even touching the great Nalgene debate — those reusable plastic bottles, which as late as last summer were smart alternatives to bottled water, that are now a waste of petroleum and, possibly, cancer causing. Gulp.

  3. Scare Tactics
    The polar bears are drowning. We're the last generation to roam the earth. Those hurricanes are only going to get worse. Dr. Susanne Moser, the co-author of Creating a Climate For Change, told the Independent there's been too much emphasis on doomsday scenarios and the changes we're told to make yield few visible results. She compared it to a strict diet that only promised less weight gain in the future.
  4. Eco Hypocrisy
    The media is not letting the touted green life go unexamined. Did that celebrity just fly a private jet after speaking about global warming? Oh yes she did. Even Al Gore, the prince of greenness himself, has not escaped the media's hypocrisy meter.

Does any of this ring true to you? Is there a limit to the amount of green you can view before you see red?


cmill38 cmill38 9 years
The media is and will always be out of control on almost everything. Going green is definately one of those area. It's so confusing hearing conflicting views and marketing green as a trend. I just buy local, carpool to and from work, take public transportation, and recycle my plastic bottles and aluminum. The things I do aren't trendy to me...they save me money. I think if we all do a little bit it can only help.
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
I think there has been some over-kill in the media and that the onslaught of it creates a trend-like feel for the whole thing, which sucks. And I hate green-police too. The people who are frigging *dogmatic* about it are major bummers. They are only going to cause a backlash.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
"In 2007, Americans were between 22 and 55 percent less likely to buy green products than they were in 2006." That is a pretty wide statistical range! And this is a good reminder that I need to replace my Nalgene bottle. I'll have to check out Sigg. For those who like it, what makes it so cool? The "green police" is an interesting concept. I admit when I see that someone doesn't recycle I ask myself why, since it's such an easy thing to do. But people probably look at me and say I'm irresponsible because I take plane trips home to visit my folks which causes a lot more damage than throwing out a few cans. The thing is, even if you think global warming is a farce, reducing what you use is still a good idea. It's less expensive and it takes less natural resources, which are finite.
pas71 pas71 9 years
Lainetm, thanks for the heads-up. So far, so good. I have an energy saving one for my desk lamp and I'm doing ok, though I do prefer a brighter light.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
pas: Regarding light bulbs, it's still good to be a critical shopper. My lovely husband replaced the bulb in the reading light by my recliner with one of those twisted fluorescents, and I absolutely couldn't read by that light. I've heard other reports of people having problems with them. I believe it's something about the quality / color / vibration of the light. It didn't seem bright enough, and it gave me headaches. I replaced it with a good old incandescent three-way bulb, and everything's fine again.
sashak sashak 9 years
Cabaker- I think that was me, actually! :) My crunchy friends & I were discussing this awhile back. Its awesome that more people are paying attention to the green movement, but its become freaking trendy! Lots of people shy away from trendy crap just because its trendy. So I'm torn...
pas71 pas71 9 years
I think the best way to actually do something for the planet is in small steps. I can't just go out and buy a new hybrid right now, but I there are things I can do. So I bought a SIGG bottle (which I LOVE) (I should note here that I really do not believe that constantly buying new things and general rampant consumerism for "green" products is the answer to pollution, but some changes are good), we got a PUR water dispenser and faucet filter and stopped buying bottled water, as our lightbulbs go out, we are switching to lower energy ones, we are switching to rechargable batteries, we use our tv on the highest "energy-saving" mode, I'm bringing in my own paper bags to Whole Foods for the smaller shopping trips, ect. Am I whole-heartedly green and going to save the planet on my own? Nope. But I think I'm making smart, small steps towards being more environmentally friendly. My next step is to really start recycling. I just wish we had more room for recycling bins so that I could separate things out more easily.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i agree with meike. even though americans are starting to see the light, we are used to the "quick fix" and i'm afraid once the shiny-new luster of all the green products and behaviors eventually wears off, people will get lazy and revert to their old ways. i don't think gas is going to go back down though, so i don't see SUVs and other heavy-duty passenger cars making a comeback any time soon. we've nurtured a really selfish, consumerist society here in america, where people feel like it's all about them and that owning crap without guilt is their right... so it's going to take a few more catastrophic eye-openers (like food skyrocketing this winter due to the flooding in the plains this summer) for people to realize that our resources are finite, and that it's possible to live a satisfying life around sustainability rather than status.
Meike Meike 9 years
I suppose I should reemphasize what my annoyance is about. It has everything to do with the capitalistic ventures of hypocritical companies and nothing to do with the green cause. One example, GM is abandoning the production of SUVs/Trucks because they no longer sell well due to hiked up gas prices and thriftier Americans opting for more fuel-efficient cars. Good news for all us, green folks, but should the economy pick up again and gas prices fall to affordable prices for the masses, are we going to see GM bring back SUVs/Trucks? I have an inkling that less eco-conscious people, those who bought fuel-efficient cars purely to save money, might want their big cars again because they can afford more gas. The green benefits may not be the primary reason for the purchase of the car. From a capitalist point of view, GM will revive their SUVs/Trucks if our economy picks up again. And, that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I don't necessarily believe a lot of companies in the U.S. are as eco-friendly as they try to convey to the general consumer. And, if it wasn't already obvious, it's easy to know where I stand on the green movement. Germany is looking lovely.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
annoying? anyone who is annoyed should take responsibility for their actions and THINK about what they are doing and consuming (the planet is theirs too). i am so happy that more people have been 'going green' since it became a massive celebrity trend, but i really hope its not just a trend!
MindayH MindayH 9 years
I disagree with #1 - I am not burned out on green and I don't think anyone I know is either. Being green is a lot easier when you don't think of it as a burden and it is something you want to do.
Meike Meike 9 years
The green movement has always been a good one. I only find it annoying that hypocrites over here are only now capitalizing on its message when our economy is weak and gas prices are rising. Sweden, Germany, Finland, Austria, and Norway among a few others are really upstanding model countries of eco-conscious societies that have practiced what they preached for years and continue to do so. Media news and concern over there is purely about the environment and its people and not merely a cover for some other capitalistic agenda. Social and eco-conscious companies like Wholefoods are commonplace. The green message isn't about saving the earth from some sort of looming Armageddon but rather to keep its city clean and beautiful with enough resources for future generations. Green is what the people want when it comes to material goods and packaging over there and companies are happy to supply it because they, too, believe in that message. My beef with people here in the U.S. is that people are not concerned enough on their own. Everyone's right. It shouldn't take a media explosion of 'Go Green Go Green Go Green' and scare tactics to stir a movement. Still, I don't see people changing their behavior that easily when materialism has been engraved into our society. I still see unsurmountable people litter, driving gas guzzling SUVs as if gas never runs out, buy and throw away excessive amounts of non-decomposable materials that end up in landfills with no place to go, etc.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
"Conflicting information happens when people react quickly, without thinking things through or doing research. The corn crisis which resulted from ethanol should have been predictable." Lain, I completely agree.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
The green fatigue has more to do with our weak economy than anything else. We just can't afford the more expensive alternative most of the time. When it comes to being green it's best to use common sense to weed out the worst misinformation.
underyourwaves underyourwaves 9 years
Cabaker--I got my Sigg bottle last week and I love it! :) I wish I got a bigger bottle though.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
The thing I hate about the Green Movement is that no matter what you do it's never enough and never good enough for the people who think of themselves as the "Green Police". I grew up recycling way before our city (my hometown Ventura) ever requested it. My parents weren't hippies, not even close but my mom had been raised extremely frugal with a Native American parent who taught her to compost and reuse etc. I grew up breaking our trash down into different grouping and then going with my brother to the different local facilities to recycle the trash for free. My family conserved water and energy, my dad considered solar panels back in the 70's but they weren't energy efficient enough. AS soon as Toyotas back available in the US my dad dumped his gas guzzling American car and bought a fuel efficient Toyota way before the 0's gas crunch. Then the government decided that hmmm American needed to be forced to do these basic things and started punishing people who already were doing them by still charging fees to families who lived that way all the time. My sister raised her kids the same way we were raised and they are perhaps even more green then we were but still they're made to feel that they're not doing enough for the environment. The whole new "Green Movement" is leaving a really bad taste in my families mouths. As I always point out to those who are just awakening to their wastefulness in their lives the motto "Save the Planet" is a lie. What we are doing by becoming more aware of our effect on the environment is not about "saving the planet" it's about "Saving the Humans". The planet will go on without humans on it, it will recover fully over time and replenish itself. While we as human will suffer the consequences of our hundreds of years of inaction and our few years of attempting to correct our horrible habits.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I agree, do what you can. I don't think there's anything controversial about recycling, turning off lights, or bringing your own bags to the grocery store. And while there may be some question about whether a local orange is better than an organic apple, we all know either one is better than a bag of cheetos (both nutritionally and for excess in packaging).
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I am! Not to brag, but I was green back when it was underground, before it went mainstream and sold out. (I actually did choose this icon because it combines things I love: my favorite color (green), Apple (the company), fruit (yum), the party I wish was a major player in the U.S. (the Greens), and the green environmental movement: I'm a hybrid-driving, canvas-bag-toting, backyard-composting, recycling nut. My license plate says HUGTREES. I am part of the problem.)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well brownsugar is all for a greensugar. I can certainly see the green fatigue. You have conflicting scientific theory's that are not even near finished theorizing but as soon as any trickle of information falls out of the fray the media snatches it up and rides it with in an inch of it's life across the air waves presenting it in the context of settled knowledge. Leaving us only to find out later that there is yet another view. I say we all sit back and relax do what we are pretty sure is a good thing for the environment which is a lot and enjoy the view.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Conflicting information happens when people react quickly, without thinking things through or doing research. The corn crisis which resulted from ethanol should have been predictable. I'd add another item, maybe it's a spin-off of scare tactics: guilt. If you're not a goose-stepping, unquestioning Gore disciple (and he is covered by item 4, above) then you're contributing to the problem. At some point people hit overload and just can't hear it anymore.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
tor, well aren't you kind of a hypocrite? i mean, your apple is green. ;)
True-Song True-Song 9 years
(I'm almost surprised there's not a GreenSugar.)
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Ugh, I saw this coming last year when both my Time and Newsweek featured green-themed covers the same week. I cringed, knowing that the backlash would come soon. Also, I've been leary of ethanol for a while, though admittedly based on information from an episode of the sixth season of West Wing. Biodiesel seems like a good option, though.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I love that the bio fuel being crammed down our throats is doing more harm than good. Polar bears are almost 5 times the numbers they were 15 years ago, so does anyone think that might have an impact on their ability to find food? :rant: Ok, rant over
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I cant stand the whole green movement, most of its a bunch of hypocrites (cough hollywood cough)
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