Last week I received the following email.
Subject: CELEBRATE EARTH DAY
APRIL 22, 2009
Buy yourself a Motorola ReNew
The Motorola W233 Renew offers an easy way to help you proactively protect the planet without compromising the quality of your phone. Exclusively from T-Mobile, the environmentally responsible Motorola W233 Renew is uniquely designed to reduce environmental impact by using sustainable materials in its design and packaging while at the same time delivering performance and quality customers rely on. Minimizing its carbon footprint through energy, transportation and material efficiencies, the Motorola W233 Renew does its part reduce its climate impact.
Really? How in Mithra's name is a buying a new cell phone going to save the planet? The most environmentally responsible thing to do would be to use your current cell phone until it craps out beyond repair. Just think how much energy was exhausted in the Motorola plant to build the millions of W233 Renews that are being scattered across the planet. And how exactly does sending my old cell phone to the landfill reduce environmental impact?
It is fascinating how seamlessly the Green movement has been co-opted by the consumer capitalist system. Case in point:
BAM! An entire television network devoted to being Green. On Planet Green, you can watch Chef Emeril Lagasse kick it up a few notches (don't worry, they're environmentally sustainable notches) at Whole Paycheck market.*
Going green started out as a personal moral decision. Dozens of these moral actors formed a movement. Then, the cunning minds in marketing and advertising transformed this movement into a lifestyle, complete with clothing, movies, television and magazines devoted to living the lifestyle. That's because going green is good business, as Al Gore knows quite well.
Don't get me wrong, going green is the right and necessary thing to do, if we want to have a viable planet for our children (you know, because the children are our future and all that stuff). I just stand amazed at the power of The Spectacle to invade every nook and cranny of our social lifeworld and tweak everything to its own end. Just ask that Argentinian dude, he'll tell you.
Revolution - it's like so hipster, you know?
But back to the W233 Renew. If you want a new phone, fine. But don't kid yourself into believing you are Mother Theresa because you chose the W233 Renew instead of an iPhone. The energy argument aside - they're basically championing consumerism as the preferred way to celebrate a holiday. After all, shopping is the preferred uniquely U.S. American response to a crisis. Just ask our former Dear Leader.
I'm not a scientist, but shouldn't a movement to save the planet emphasize conservation, not consumption? Just sayin'...
*Full disclosure: I've watched a little of Planet Green and it's not that bad. It sure beats every god damn reality show that currently inhabits the idiot box.