In the same way we can’t drill our way to oil independence nor can we buy our way to a sustainable future. So was the gist of recent New York Times article on Sunday July 1st. Appropriately placed in the Sunday Styles section of the Times, the article (subscription required) goes on to point out that green consumption while better is not best in combating global warming. If you buy a Prius, there is still another new vehicle on the road, albeit a less polluting one.
But we all knew that right? Maybe not to the degree that is necessary to curb our insatiable appetite for all things green and sustainable (two words that are dangerously overused these days). Do you really need five new pairs of organic cotton jeans? One pair might suffice or better yet, dig into the back of your closet, and pull out last year’s jeans. With the world’s population growing exponentially, and the US gobbling up a lion’s share of its natural resources, we have got to consume less if we are serious about the health of the planet. Our consumption habits must change for us to truly reduce our carbon footprint and combat global warming. Buy green yes, but better yet, buy less.
Near the end of the Times article the author listed eight ideas for more substantial steps, taken from a list of 77 in a book titled The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook. The last point was simple and looked small by comparison to the other suggestions that included refusing to buy bottled water. VOTE. Far from minor, this powerful action can change more than all the others ideas taken together. As we begin to approach the 12 month lead up to the federal elections in 2008, we have a great opportunity to realistically tackle large environmental issues such as global warming. Voting for candidates who have solid plans for addressing environmental concerns will have the greatest impact. Registering to vote, educating yourself on the candidates’ environmental voting records, and voting the environment, is the strongest of direct actions. Put another way, take your passion for the planet to the polls. This above all will help reduce your carbon footprint in ways far beyond your green purchases.