Global War by Dawn Maxey

I was introduced to Dawn Maxey’s spoken word poetry at the recent AIGA Compost Modern event.

Here’s some excerpts from her very spirited poem, “Global War” about eco-hype:

But then/ just the other day,
I began to notice people at Whole Foods with entire shopping carts full of ‘organic’ and ‘go green’ items. These people are the same ones that say things like “did I bump into you? I’m sorry. I just didn’t expect this ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE dishwashing soap to be so heavy.”
I want to pour environmentally safe salt in their eyes.

In fact, I imagine a day when things get so bad you’ll live in a glass house so that everyone can see you wake up in the morning, get out of your organic soy bean bed and pack your “this is not a plastic bag”, bag. You’ll open a box of Tony the tiger’s non hydrogenated hypoallergenic free trade grain flakes, and drive your not-tested-on-animals bicycle to work. Then you’ll help Nike ‘save’ the rainforest by branding large red swooshes on all the lemurs or maybe organize a photo shoot for Abercrombie’s new cotton free cotton underwear.

Green is chic now, but when the stock market of trends crashes
no one will want to be caught dead with biodegradable polos, environmentally safe dirt, or toilet paper made from corn husks.
the earth will be just as trashed as Lindsay Lohan in a Bacardi factory
and people will care
even less

So how do you fix the problem?
Make being green
show people that it’s not hip or trendy or fun to be green
it’s an obligation

About Ann Benoit


  1. All very true. We just need to lead by example and be humble about it I suppose. 🙂

  2. I think green=hip has been a good way to get people thinking about the issue, but we need to start illustrating the point that the environment is a basic responsibility. I tend to think of managing my environmental footprint as similar to managing my finances: both have inputs, both have outputs, and I would be really embarassed if either of them were a mess.

  3. Thankfully I’m MUCH more conscious about my carbon footprint than my finances, which are a MESS! But your comment is well-taken E.R.- both are responsibilities….unfortunately, Americans are terrible money-managers, so I don’t know if that’s an argument that will sway many people.

  4. Starre,
    I agree that the environment=balance sheet analogy is appealing to a small and unhip cohort. Alas, I happen to be tragically unhip, concerning myself with spreadsheets, and records, and so forth, so I don’t mind using it. Interestingly, I’ve found that this environment/finance device has been somewhat effective in talking with fiscal and political conservatives about environmental issues.
    More broadly, I think environmentalists need to focus on parlaying the idea of sustainability into terms understandable to as many groups as possible.

  5. This poem by Dawn Maxey, and people like her, really drive me crazy. “I want to pour environmentally safe salt in their eyes.”???? Are you serious! So being green is chic right now. Is that really a bad thing? The way I see it, the more attention being paid to choosing responsible products, the better. Why discourage people for making the switch to organic. I agree, American’s are consumer crazy, and there should be an emphasis on reducing our consumption. But most people simply will NOT go without some of the creature comforts we have come to rely on, and if they decide to purchase ”ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE dishwashing soap” or “Tony the tiger’s non hydrogenated hypoallergenic free trade grain flakes” isn’t that better than doing nothing?

  6. I’m with you, Kristin — this isn’t really a time or issue for self-righteousness. It doesn’t serve people who care about the environment (or the environment itself) to judge why people do what they do. Once the benefits of our ‘hipness’ become apparent, responsibility for its own sake will follow. This is one of the main problems many people I know seem to have with the environmental movement in the first place. And that hurts us all.

  7. Dawn Maxey says:

    Kristin- The point of the poem is that if people get caught up in the glory of consumerism, there’s a potential to fall out of it. The emphasis should be on keeping sustainability sustainable. There’s nothing wrong with “hip” products in the short term, but long term-wise, it may be better to teach people about the reasons we should be sustainable and thus create informed citizens.

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