Ecochic vs. SustainHillbillity
Ecochic is supposed to be the trendy, fashionable side of living sustainably, but unfortunately in standard practice is seeming more like people getting in the SUV, driving around the corner to the local organic outlet, and buying a $100 llama sweater imported from Peru. The sweater is purportedly made by some sustainable practice, but sounds like it’s shipped with the worlds longest carbon trail. The word Ecochic makes me think of a really bling covered Smartcar, a $2,500 ball gown made out of pine needles or paying $6 to drink a fancy bottle of water that came from another country. It’s looking at a cars gas mileage and ignoring its manufacturing process – that’s more like using it as jewelry. Followed only by ecotourism, ecolodge, and probably anything with the eco-prefix followed by some retail buzzword, this is a very low bar for changing a culture of non-stop consumerism. $100 for a Peruvian ecosweater isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s all I’m doing for a healthier ecolifestyle my money could be better spent to encourage local organic farmers and sustainable industries. By itself, ecochic seems to give people a false sense of ecocontributing to real ecochange.
This study found that not only are consumers feeling generally powerless to have a real impact, but also that information and awareness campaigns that give consumers information on how to act responsibly toward the environment, “tend only to influence categories of consumption with little environmental impact.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217152520.htm
Also, unsurprisingly, most are unwilling to change their behavior or do not see the connection between their impact to the environment and buying things like luxury chocolate, ecochic or otherwise.
I’m finding a real lack of vocabulary for the kind of changes we’re trying to make in our life, especially words that haven’t been hijacked for some other product category. Even “sustainability” is starting to seem more like “sustainbanality”. You can choose your own words but I’m thinking for me it’s something like, “sustainhillbillity” – mainly due to the amount of duct tape that some of our projects use and our need to get much closer to the dirt.
Here is one study on the actual impact of bottled water from another country http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/pablo_calculate.php