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Counterfeit Green?

Launch of Disney's Disneynature documentary film production unit
Everybody’s hopping on the “eco” train these days (yes, you can include Green Among Gray among the passengers) which is, generally, a good thing. Awareness is being raised if nothing else.

But how do you choose which sources to trust? The more mainstream the environmental movement becomes, the more saleable it is and the more likely we are to stumble upon supposed eco info from someone who’s actually just hawking something. There are more than a few “earth-friendlies” offering advice and products with a shadier shade of green in mind.

Even that, though, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. If you can make the world a better place while pocketing some cash, more power to you.

But there’s just such a hollowness to a lot of this stuff. I’ve recently come across a few examples of this transparent type of using the green movement to legitimize an agenda. But before I get into that, I want to share an eloquent quote from William O. Douglas, a former Supreme Court Justice whom I had never heard of but just learned about – he’s described as “one of the great Green Crusaders.” In an opinion in a 1972 lawsuit to stop Disney from developing a ski resort in Sequoia National Park, Douglas said, “Perhaps the bulldozers of 'progress' will plow under all the aesthetic wonders of this beautiful land. That is not the present question. The sole question is, who has standing to be heard? Those who hike the Appalachian Trail into Sunfish Pond, New Jersey, and camp or sleep there, or run the Allagash in Maine, or climb the Guadalupes in West Texas, or who canoe and portage the Quetico Superior in Minnesota, certainly should have standing to defend those natural wonders before courts or agencies, though they live 3,000 miles away. Those who merely are caught up in environmental news or propaganda and flock to defend these water or areas may be treated differently.”

Let that sink in.

Now for the examples:

-- So what prompted this post was a press release I read describing, in all its luxurious wonder, the CELEBRITY GREEN GIFTING CHATEAU that awaits television stars and other lucky invitees to Debbie Durkin/Durkin Entertainment’s “100% sustainable charity event” coming up in L.A. The release, which cleverly uses a green font whenever “green” is mentioned, says it will feature “spa services, celebrity gifting” (what exactly this entails I’m not sure, but the mind reels with images of a giftwrap-trussed Ed Begley sporting a big red bow), “’greening tips,’ eco-friendly paintings” and the requisite “Celebrity Poker Challenge.” To be fair, the poker will benefit the Creative Coalition. And there’s a bunch of green-sounding groups (Environmental Media Association, which seems to be pretty legitimate, Naturalight Chalina Alpaca wool scarves) associated with the event. But, c’mon.

-- "They sold their soul to the highest bidder." So says Monica Evans, in an Associated Press story published in the Los Angeles Times, about that paragon of stewardship the Sierra Club. Monica was one of a group of Sierra Club members who quit after the Sierra Club signed a profit-sharing deal with Clorox – a company with a pretty horrible environmental record – that puts the club’s logo on Clorox’s eco-friendly "Green Works" cleansers. One way to look at this is as a smart move by a longtime, unimpeachable environmental protector that happens to need money. The other way to look at it is – well I guess Monica summed it up best.

-- Onearth, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s magazine, has an excellent article on the environmental “doublespeak” and the “greenwashing” that’s going on, covering Disney’s lack of a strong environmental platform and the new slogan of the country's largest garbage company, Waste Management: “Think Green.” The piece points out the things that get swept under the rug in the rush to rebrand, like the fact that Waste Management has been fined for Superfund violations.

Recognizing that none of us is perfect – to have contradictions is to be human – share your faux, shadyy, or otherwise contradictory green encounters by posting a comment below.

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“Counterfeit Green?”