Sour Green Grapes

It was the thud of yet another new “green lifestyle” magazine landing on my desk that pushed me over the edge. At the risk of not having Lunapads reviewed (unlikely, as we’ll see), I’m not going to name names, but I do not exaggerate when I say that my desk here at Lunapads is literally, well – littered – with new green living guides, coupon books, magazines and books. Mind, we’re not talking about the likes of Sierra or E magazine, who have been practicing serious environmental journalism for decades, but rather a slew of glossy newcomers touting their version of what I loosely call the “new eco-chic lifestyle”. As the marketing gal around here, I’m the lucky recipient of their ad soliciting and am becoming a bit alarmed by the sheer volume of this mushrooming pile.

magazines Sour Green Grapes

Not to be too much of a grump, these magazines do have some good things to say ~ in case you need novel eco-ideas like eating organic locally-grown food, recycling and walking or cycling instead of driving (duh?!) But most of them have a conspicuous absence of harder-hitting issues, let alone information about cloth menstrual pads or diapers – I guess it’s just too “icky” to mention for modern eco-consumers?

Another source of concern is that the rest of these magazines is often just product “reviews” (undercover paid advertising) of things like “new” natural bodycare products (what’s new about another organic lip balm?), high-end home accessories, and one of my personal “pet” peeves: over-the-top “natural” pet accessories (organic cat toys, I ask you!) Read: “Shop your way to cleaning up the planet”!

Sandwiched between ads for cars and condos, I had to pause at full-page ad promoting Brita water filter’s newfound environmental consciousness (apparently using Brita filters is all about reducing the waste of bottled water, according to their new Filter for Good site – a great example of laughable greenwash marketing) For the more revealing side of this story, check out Take Back the Filter, where you can get the facts on how Clorox, Brita’s North American parent, has yet to devise a recycling program for those ubiquitous oh-so-green filters, despite the fact there has been one in place for years in Europe. So forgive me if I’m feeling a bit frustrated about what it actually means to be “green” these days, at least according to the material on my desk.

To me, at the end of the day all this information feels more like “10 easy ways to not really make a difference but look like you care”, which I guess is sort of OK, except for all that paper. I also have to ask – is it really that hard to figure out more environmentally responsible choices that we need a gazillion different guides? Whatever happened to common sense? Why is it that even simplicity itself is commodified (Real Simple, anyone?) I guess that having less magazines won’t be making it onto any of those “easy tips to save the planet” lists any time soon.

pixel Sour Green Grapes
  • Debbie

    I couldn’t help but notice in the photo, not only the paper wasted, on these glossy “eco” mags, but also the number that are wrapped in PLASTIC.

  • Madeleine

    I should clarify that the image is not of my actual desk & magazines (I left my camera at my brother’s house a couple of weeks ago – it’s driving me crazy!), so the image used was simply a stock one to illustrate the point and was not intended to be actual.

  • http://www.fakeplasticfish.com Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish

    Hey, I’m tickled that the Take Back The Filter campaign was mentioned on the Lunapads blog! And in an article about “greenwashing.” You guys rock and so does your product. If I still had periods, I’d be an enthusiastic customer.

    Beth Terry
    http://www.fakeplasticfish.com
    http://www.takebackthefilter.org

  • Amanda

    I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear other people actually recognizing that we can’t shop the world clean or better.

    I swear I’m going to bomb the next “green” commercial I see on tv.

    It feels more and more like the green movement only caught on when it began to match up with affluence – “if I’m going to own too much stuff, at least it’s eco-friendly, right?” When really, there isn’t anything remotely eco or friendly about affluence.

    The thing that really gets me is that a lot when I read about a lot of these great new “eco” products, their usually outrageously expensive and figuring out where and who made them – i.e. are they ethically produced – can be really difficult. Who cares if your new sneakers were made with recycled tire rubber if the people making them are working crappy hours for crappy wages in a crappy polluting factory standing on land that in all likelihood used to be a forest? (And, that isn’t to say that its always like this, its just an example.)

    It seems like being green, not being affluent, and concern for other human beings should go hand in hand. But somehow people have found a way to turn being “green” into another way to shop… and Earth Day into Christmas Pt. 2 a.k.a the Second Coming of The Messiah.

  • Amanda

    … I didn’t mean for that to sound so bitchy – I was just really excited to hear someone actually say “Shop your way to cleaning up the planet”

  • http://www.izzitgreen.com/ Jarreau

    Hey Madeleine,

    That post is great, way to call out big corporations trying to hop on the “green bandwagon”. I wanted to relay a website you may find interesting called izzitgreen.com

    It is a Boston-based site that rates local businesses, stores, services, restaurants, etc…based on how good they are, but also how green they are. It’s a pretty cool concept and the content is user generated. It’s definitely worth checking out.

    Keep up the great work!
    -jjw

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