"Green" dollars in USA "Green Movement" is the most recent topic on the Sistah Vegan Project Blog, which asks who really benefits from "green" consumerism.
I'm asking this question because it feels like being green is all about consuming green products and making companies invested in "green" products, richer. Rarely do I see mainstream ads, workshops, and lectures about looking at "green" in terms of environmental racism, or looking and critiquing its recent roots in "selling" "green". Is it me, or is "Green" these days all about "buying" and less about making systemic changes and questioning the very nature of capitalistic moral economy and systemic racism, imperialism, and neocolonialism? It just feels like "green" is all about making money from a very class privileged USA view of "ecosustainability". ... I'm beginning to think that "green" is about "green dollars" being made from a "trend" that is a one-dimensional issues for the mainstream.
The entry was posted on April 23, and I can sympathize and understand where this is coming from. Earth Day was the day before and just about everything related to Earth Day came with a sales pitch (the example for "sales pitch" in The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms is even "Let's hear your latest sales pitch for energy conservation"). We were told the answers to every (privileged) environmental issue was inevitable a product you could buy, such as a "green" cars, "green" light bulbs, "green" kitchen cleaner, "green" homes, "green" electricity, etc.
Of course these only relate to the environmental issues that effect the privileged. As the Sistah Vegan Project Blog pointed out, environmental racism and other social justice issues relating to the environment aren't covered. Anyway, what product could you buy to stop a waste incinerator from being built in a poor community of color? Since such a community doesn't have the disposable income to afford paying a premium for "green" products anyway the response seems to be, "Who cares?"
This is a problem to me because why should someone need to be "economically privileged" to guarantee that they can afford clean water, organic hemp clothing, non-toxic materials to build their "green" home, etc? And if they can't afford it, why are they looked down upon as "contributing to the global warming problem" or "not caring about their health"? What structures and systems make it so that low-income people can only afford to cloth their bodies in "toxic" clothing, or drink "toxic" water, or drive "toxic" cars?
The sturcture and system of profit is right. It's the system of capitalism and individualism. The system strips the social movement of all political, moral, and social values, which have no use in the marketplace. "Green" consumerism/capitalism assumes the "Invisible Hand" of the market, and everyone acting in their own self-interest, will take care of everything political, moral, and social. Environmental racism isn't an issues, because the system discourages people from thinking about other people.
I see a similar trend with "vegan" items, in which the product is "non-human animal cruelty free", but the packaging is often insanely "un-green" and the process it took to make it "vegan" (i.e., sweatshops, violation of human rights, etc) is questionable. But, it sells to many vegans who only seem to solely be focused on the fact that the product, wrapped in layers of plastic or whatnot, is "cruelty free" because it has been labeled as "vegan".
Whether it's labeled "green" or "vegan" what we're really talking about is capitalism. You can't buy social change. A cleaner and less exploitive world won't be created by the marketplace. You only get that through social organizing, which is antithetical to the capitalist model.