Activist Mommy

{July 13, 2007}   Eco-friendly consumerism is still consumerism

Spending moneyI read a great post this mrning called Are You Falling for Green Consumerism? over at Green SAHM and it reminded me of a rant I had started and saved. So I pulled it out from the drafts and polished it up a bit.

I was on the phone with a friend and she bagan telling me about her latest purchase. Swept up by the environmental movement she dropped a nice chunk of money on several new shirts, pants, skirts, and a jacket. “They’re made from organic material!” she chirped, clearly excited. But she already had a closet full of clothes, really nice clothes. More clothes than most people have owned in their entire lifetime. I asked what she did with her old clothes. “Oh, you know. Some I dropped off at the charity shop. I sold some on Ebay. And the rest I put in a couple boxes out in the garage.” My head was spinning. Here was all of this perfectly good clothing, sitting in boxes in the garage, just collecting dust so that my fashion conscience friend could add the word “organic” to her label.

Shopping green with no concern for how much you’re consuming is the easy way out. It’s an improvement, but a small one when compared to what you could achieve if you are ready to make the sacrifices and try to really make a difference.

Why waste so much money, and the materials used to make the new clothes, when her previous wardrope was perfectly fine? Most of it had hardly been worn. Some of it still had the price tags on them, a fact she mentioned casually later when she told me how much she managed to make on Ebay. Perhaps I’m uber-frugal, but wouldn’t it have been more eco-friendly to have not bought anything new in the first place? It would have at least saved the resources spent making, shipping, and packaging the new clothes.

While I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy more eco-friendly products, buying them just for the sake of buying them is kind of pointless. No matter how many pounds of fair-trade coffee you buy if you’re not a coffee drink it is still wasteful. Green consumerism is still just consumerism, only wrapped in a different package. There is a great post called Buying Our Way to a Cleaner World that is definitely worth a read. One of the goals of living more eco-friendly should not be to buy more green labels stuff, but to buy less stuff over all and just make the things you do buy are greener choices.

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stella says:


i posted a NYT article recently to skirt, on this same issue.

good post!

[…] Mommy wants to remind you that eco-friendly consumerism is still consumerism. I could not agree more. If you want to really be eco-friendly, need less and consume less. And […]

SeaBird says:

Good point…. love your masthead – very cute!

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