Don't Believe the Hype

First, full disclosure: Unlike Starre, I didn’t watch LiveEarth. Not on TV or in person or on the Internet. It was held, admittedly, for a good cause. But I’m not a huge fan of pop and celebrity, so something about the whole spectacle turned me off. And that’s tough to say because I try hard to not be a cynical environmentalist (the kind who’s so anti- as to be virtually paralyzed in this world) and I appreciate the aim of raising awareness. I really do hope that something comes of it and that people in policy-making power were watching along with everyone else.


Part of the problem with this awareness-raising is that without accountability and corporate responsibility, everyone can say they’re doing green things. Like Carson Daly (thanks Starre, for sharing those words of wisdom), who thinks unplugging his Blackberry is the best he can do to help save the world (it is a nice baby step, but wasn’t Cameron Diaz saying this three years ago in an MTV show?). Greenwashing has become such an issue in the UK that 9 of 10 people surveyed by The Guardian newspaper (which has a wonderful environment section) say they don’t believe the hype. Perhaps it’s McDonald’s entrance into the eco-friendly fold in response to demands from consumers in the UK. Or perhaps it’s the fact that DaimlerChrysler, a not-so-green auto manufacturer, sponsored Live Earth. (From Der Spiegel):

On Saturday, DaimlerChrysler will sponsor Al Gore’s Live Earth series of concerts, where it will promote its Smart “fortwo” line of fuel-efficient automobiles. Daimler’s presence at the event has drawn heavy criticism from some environmental groups, including Greenpeace which has refused to affiliate itself with the global event.

“It’s problematic that a firm like Daimler, which just several weeks ago was doing battle with the European Commission plans for mandatory emissions limits, can now present itself as a protector of the climate,” Jürgen Maier of the Berlin-based Climate Alliance wrote in the July issue of Greenpeace Magazine.

And while Daimler may be packaging itself at Live Earth as an environmentally friendly firm, its recent track record of abandoning support for sustainability projects suggests the company isn’t putting its money where its mouth is.

Though I feel a bit like every little step – including this worldwide concert – counts, I’m not so sure little steps are what we need. I just hope that while everyone’s hopping on the green bandwagon, they’re also, as Der Spiegel said, putting their money where their mouths are. Before green fatigue sets in and consumers stop caring.