Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jolly green corporate giants, part 2

The latest issue of the InBalance newsletter from the Center for a New American Dream contained several articles that tie in with with topics I've covered before on this blog. For instance, the article "Go Green This Halloween" follows up on my recent Halloween post by proposing additional "ways to celebrate that don’t involve devoting hours in front of a sewing machine or parting with significant amounts of cash," from costume swaps to all-natural decorations. The same article contains a link to the Green Halloween site, the same one I complained about last year because its suggestions for alternative treats were all either really expensive and/or really lame. (The site has since added a few new ideas, such as printed-out puzzles, which seem marginally less lame, but I'm still not sure what percentage of sugar-craving rug rats would perceive them as treats rather than tricks.) There's also an interview with Tammy Stroebel, the blogger whose transition to a minimalist lifestyle prompted me to muse about the distinction between frugality and simplicity, and how it's possible to value one without necessarily wanting the other. If I didn't know better, I'd wonder whether the editors of this site were reading my blog to come up with ideas.

The article that interested me most, however, was this one about "The Scarecrow," a new animated short produced by Chipotle restaurants to draw attention to problems with factory farming and promote their own supposedly more sustainable practices. The video itself, available on YouTube, is both charming and moving, but it's provoked a barrage of attacks from two directions. Supporters of Monsanto have flooded the YouTube site with comments arguing that corporate agriculture is actually the best way to "feed more people while using fewer resources," while environmentalists have denounced the video as an example of greenwashing by a "giant corporation." The author of the article disagrees with both viewpoints, arguing that "Chipotle does have a strong, if imperfect, record on sustainability" and that "'large company' does not always have to equal 'unsustainable.'"

This caught my attention because it's exactly the same argument I made three years ago in response to the protests surrounding the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which many of the holiday's original founders considered to have been "perverted" from its original purpose by corporate influence. I thought this was a bunch of hooey, because let's face it, there are always going to be corporations, and having those corporations adopt more sustainable practices is decidedly a Good Thing, even if they're just doing it to attract more customers. Heck, especially if they're doing it to attract more customers—because if it works, that will give the other corporations an incentive to do the same thing.

So it's nice to see that there are some folks in the sustainability movement—even some fairly influential ones—who agree with me on this. But seriously, have they been reading my blog for ideas?
Post a Comment