What a week. Never have we heard so many say so much (and so little) about greenness. We conclude that our consumer culture has been pretty nearly completely greenwashed.
On TV we observe a young couple selecting a 4,000 square foot suburban house (with garage space for multiple vehicles) that has “so many green features.” Energy rated appliances, blah, blah, blah. “Eco-friendly.” Really?
HGTV is running a “Green House Sweepstakes.” First prize is a ‘green’ house in Florida, and a 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid pickup truck (21 mpg city, 22 mpg highway).
We got tons of spam emails this week – everybody selling green this or that: United Airlines, Smith + Noble (they sell drapes), Crate and Barrel. Same contents, but now in a green package.
I guess this is good, somehow, it’s just hard to see how. Perhaps this means a basic awareness that we have a bit of a problem is now widespread. But it’s difficult not to be cynical.
In our neighborhood, lots of veg gardens have been planted. Home improvement projects this spring feature quite a lot of tankless water heaters and other green home infrastructure. And there is a lot of conversation about what more we can do. Within the well known constructs of contemporary life, most folks are trying to live more thoughtful, less wasteful lives. Good.
But I find myself coming back to an old question: what will it take? We need many orders of magnitude of change in order to imagine and construct the next city. What will it take to make this happen?
There is no question about the fact that we live in a variety of forms of human community that are archaic, unsupportable, increasingly unuseable. And there is no question about the speed at which this will become even worse – really fast. Faster, in fact, than we can respond, talk about it, pass laws, remake our urban places, make a transition to what we imagine comes next.
So it was quite a week. Lots of conversations, even more greenwashing. Maybe Earth Week next year should include some kind of real challenge. Like this: sell your car(s). Take the bus, walk, ride your bike, take the train. But sell your car.
No bus nearby? No train? Can’t walk to get what you need? Time for the next city.