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When Going Green is a Myth


In life, we like to think of ourselves as the driver. We want to be the one who is in control of our journey. We are the ones choosing our destinations. The bitter reality is that this is far from the truth. The power of advertising is proof of this. In today's world, it's impossible to go five minutes without seeing an advertisement that promotes a product that claims to be helping the environment. Often colored in green and flashing some fancy slogan, the marketing team behind the advertisement is praying on the ignorance of the people. With a skewed statistic, they can greatly boost sales because they know their audience will not fact-check them. The audience may even be unwilling to do some research because they relish the dopamine rush that comes from completing an act they view as altruistic. When it comes to resolving climate change, there are a number of small changes that should be considered and even applied. However, should you want to grab the bull by the horns, it's best to focus on consumerism and capitalism.

All you have to do is take a look around and you'll see countless products that you or someone you know has purchased. Every single product has a production process. There are very few products that can be produced with zero-emission processes. There are even fewer products that can be produced with zero-emission processes and leave behind zero waste when they are disposed of. Look around again and think about all the greenhouse gases that were released to create the products you see. Think about their ultimate destination. Will these things end up in a landfill? Maybe they'll find their way into the ocean. Let's use the beef industry as an example. Recently, cows have received tons of backlash due to their tendency to release methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, through belching and flatulence. The problem, however, lies not in the cows themselves, but in the number of cows. In the United States especially, food is often purchased in unnecessary amounts. This increase in beef purchases means more cows must be raised to reach demands. Thus, more trucks are required to ship food to the farms. More cows lead to more methane. More beef means more waste. Where do we put all of that waste? The beef will likely find its end in a plastic bag. The world can handle the emissions we release, but only to a certain point. Oftentimes, it is not what we are doing but the rate at which we are doing it. The United States highlights this by producing roughly 12% of the world's waste despite holding only 4% of the world's population. To put this in perspective, China and India combined produce 27% of the world's waste while having 36% of the world's population.

Placing all of the blame on the people is unfair as expecting people to be educated on every topic is simply unrealistic. Businesses can and should be held accountable for their actions. I'm referring to planned obsolescence which is the policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of non-durable materials(via Oxford Languages). The most notable company when it comes to planned obsolescence is Apple. The tech giant was recently taken to court for slowing down older iPhones to encourage the purchase of newer models. Some would argue that the small changes between each model can also be considered a form of planned obsolescence. A growing concern in this space is fast fashion. I will refrain from naming the company but social media platforms such as TikTok have launched the aforementioned company into the top of the fashion industry. Unfortunately, this company has been accused of using cheap materials which results in their clothes wearing out in a matter of days. However, the cheap prices keep customers coming back. This is an example of how consumerism and capitalism can combine to the detriment of the environment as fast fashion has become the second-biggest consumer of water and accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions.

We can't just buy our way out of climate change. However, we can do the opposite. By purchasing less, we can cut the amount of emissions as well as the amount of waste produced. Although being responsible is something we should all strive for, just like misleading marketing, we must also be careful of shouldering the burden of businesses. Whether it's ruining previous products or cheap, low-quality products these companies should be punished accordingly. In conclusion, in a world where everyone wants to look great for the cameras, purchasing only the necessary, quality products looks best for our future.


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