The myth of green

Today’s modern, “plugged-in” member of society seems to think she has a pretty good idea of what’s environmentally friendly and what’s not. Activists, classroom activities and even commercials are in on the action, talking about recycling or new products without chemicals.

Electric cars, coffee cups made out of X% recycled paper, turning off your lights – it’s all green and it’s all good, right? But when you dig a little deeper, being green is infinitely more complex then you’d think.

1. A paperless generation is a green generation: The myth of the benefits of a computerized, paperless world abound but the truth is much grimmer than this. Electronic equipment is often built with highly corrosive materials and heavy pollutants. Often, our laptops and iPods, once disposed of, are sent to Third World countries to be torn apart and disposed of. Those who do this work report acid burns on their hands, high rates of miscarriage and alarming rates of cancer. These materials often irrevocably damage the physical environment in which they find their final resting place.

2. Nothing wrong with meat! The push to be eco-friendly is pervasive and affects so many aspects of everyday life, but when it comes to our food, particularly our meats, the same nature friendly attitude doesn’t extend that far. The truth is that it is difficult to call yourself an environmentalist while gobbling down dead animals. The cattle industry, in particular, has evolved into an industrial operation, churning out cows plump with steroids on unnatural grain diets. Worse yet, the environment suffers greatly as legions of these gorging beasts eat away at topsoil.

3. Always recycle: The idea that we should always recycle everything, no matter the size, is being seriously questioned by scholars. It has been found that certain plastics actually take more energy to rework and reshape than to just throw out. It follows then that the rigorous campaign to save every little thing may not be quite as helpful as once imagined.

4. Children aren’t green? Studies have shown that people use an ungodly amount of planet byproducts and contribute to the CO2 bank exponentially. What does this mean? It certainly doesn’t suggest we need to stop breeding, but it does hint that maybe we should look at adoption or happy solitude as something nobler than is currently portrayed.

5. The World Bank loans because it cares: In destitute Third World countries, a familiar routine occurs regularly: assuming population and various developmental growth goals in a poor company, the World Bank steps in to loan money, the country can’t keep up with projected growth and thus the expected payments, and then the U.S., stakeholders in many of these countries’ corporations, comes in to pillage the natural resources. This has occurred in Ecuador, Panama and countless others. It’s important to remember that “aid” along with “calculated growth projections” can be a very scary scenario. Check out the 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, which details just how rigidly designed this familiar routine is.

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