Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

The Neo-Green Contradictions

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Because Ed Abbey and David Foster Wallace are no longer around, I'm nominating Charles Bowden to attend this upcoming conference sponsored by the European Science Foundation:

Eco-Chic: Connecting Ethical, Sustainable and Elite Consumption

As anthropologist Adam Fish observes:

Eco-chic, like many other socio-cultural manifestations of neoliberalism is rife with contradiction. The fundamental contradiction being that it is a social justice movement within consumer capitalism. The producers of eco-chic goods and experiences are structured by capitalism's profit motive. Likewise consumers of eco-chic goods and experiences are motivated by ideals that try to transcend or correct the ecological or deleterious human impacts of capitalism. Thus both producer and consumer of eco-chic are caught in a contradiction between their social justice drives and their suspension in the logic of neoliberalism.

It's a contradiction made all the more perverse when the eco-chic lifestyle is adopted by the rich and famous who then become green celebrities. But even as a guiding philosophy for commoners, it just doesn't square. The problem with the eco-chic lifestyle, Fish asserts, is that it is a massive contradiction

between doing good and doing well, being ecologically sensitive while being hedonistic, being trendy while being independent, and being a creative producer while also being a conscious consumer. These contradictions don't fly.

Most media coverage has either chronicled what Wired in 2006 called the "Rise of the Neo-Greens" or celebrated the eco-chic lifestyle. But I'm not aware of any critiques of the movement put forward in places like Harper's or Mother Jones magazine, whose readers might be considered a prime eco-chic demographic. It's time someone with literary and intellectual chops explored the eco-chic contradictions that Fish lays out, and the implications for environmentalism as a sustainable, politically relevant movement. Harpers's and Mother Jones each has a stable of talented writers up to the task.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In