Green Fads Inevitably Die, but How?

Yeti by Philippe Semeria

The only question in regards to the death of the current green enthusiasm is, “Will the new green fad die via popular adoption, or via wholesale abandonment?”  Well, I guess this is the first question, not the only.  The second one would be, “What will green living look like when it is either abandoned or adopted?”

An intelligent reader (I know you are out there!) would of course respond, “Well, economical solutions will be adopted while unrealistic and utopian greening will be abandoned.”  And while making sense, this sort of reasoning with the American people is redonculous at best and dangerous madness at worst.  Just look at corn ethanol, still going strong all these years despite its fairly wide-known economic unfeasibility.  And we all know that the milk of the female Yeti could be a financial boon for holistic medicine if someone would just put in the hard work to create a Yeti milking program, or at least learn to synthesize the stuff.

All good fads come to an end.  Bad ones sometimes uncannily remain, but good ones, they always end.  Some of these fads become the next compact disc or Garth Brooks Juice Tiger juice diet – loved and embraced by all, effectively ending the fad.  Compact fluorescent bulbs have reached this level in the green world.  LED’s are currently still just a fad, but they may reduce CFL’s to vinyl status eventually.

On the other hand, some fads fade away like goldfish shoes and Scientology (ouch! I am such a insensitive jerk.  Luckily, jerkiness is hear to stay.)  Within the green living movement there will certainly be many such fads that never cut the mustard. (Mmmm, green mustard…)  A list of undecideds include smart home meters, ERVs (energy recovery ventilators), urban chicken coops, hemp diapers, anti-polyethylene-terephthalate and/or polycarbonate mania, cloth shopping bags, not wasting water on Kentucky Bluegrass in Utah, and duel-flush toilets.

New technologies are sexy, and they can make going green seem Hollywood.  Getting a green app for your iPhone can be a breathless affair, but this is all a bunch of who cares in the end.  Sure LED lights, if made affordably and practically, could once again radically alter energy consumption from structural lighting.  But so could turning off the lights when you don’t need them.  So why is it that buying flashy new bulbs is hip while insisting on turning off unused lights is totally fuddy-duddy?

I, for one, think that this latest fad of green living will actually die a death of wide-spread adoption.  It will no longer be a fad due to being mainstreamed more than forgotten or ignored.  While this makes my dirty, hairy toes all tingly with excitement like a cool squish in the mud on a hot day, I also fear it may not matter much in the end.  If the lasting heritage of this round of green living includes only a smattering of genuine technological innovations clumped together with a bunch of persisting yet questionable green devices, then who cares?  Really?

Behaviors have to change and Yeti’s must be milked if this new green fad is to become anything that will matter in the end.  If only our behavior would truly be driven by economic sustainability and a rational passion for sustainable free-markets, then we might see some wonderfully amazing and surprisingly simple ideas.  These could include wasting less, workable new energy sources, sweatshop-free labor, more shared-space and less consumer-product redundancy (a TV in every room and a lawn mower in every garage).

It ain’t sexy, but it would be a future enhanced by the fad.

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