Thursday, June 12, 2008

Green Morality

American popular culture attaches moral values to certain things. I've talked about the way certain foods are labeled "good" or "bad" - trans fats and fast food are "bad"; organics and low-calorie foods are "bad." What you or someone else eats becomes a way to evaluate your lifestyle along that "good" and "bad" continuum.

Environmental issues are heading down this track. I'm guilty of it myself - I've judged my share of Hummer drivers and over-air-conditioned store owners. But this Eco-Sins "confessional" goes too far. The concept is that you confess your non-environmentally-friendly habits to the world to alleviate the guilt that you (naturally) feel. But some of them don't seem guilt-inducing. The woman who feels awful about using DEET because she lives in a tick-infested area? Gee, you should really ditch that stuff and take the risk of getting Lyme disease. Sidewalk salt? Heaven forbid! Let those silly pedestrians fall on their asses. But of all the issues, paper towels appear to be the greatest sin of all. But wait! One poster is there to assuage us - she composts her paper towels, thus helping her (organic) garden grow and eliminating the need to use energy to clean cloth rags.

It's perfectly fine to want to reduce/reuse/recycle - hell, I try myself. I don't think rampant waste is a good thing, but don't lose sleep over the paper vs. plastic decision. You've got other things to feel guilty about: eating that doughnut, not spending enough time with your family, getting to work late ...

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