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I am the bane of environmentalism!


I'm revising a romantic fantasy short story at the moment. One of the characters is an environmentalist fighting consumerism, so I tried to figure out who she's up against. Turns out, it's people like me.
Make no mistake: I love the idea of a clean Earth based on sustainable energy, less consumerism, less plastic, etc. I take my bike to work (sometimes) or use public transport. My house is insulated, and I turn off the light when I leave a room. I've even invested a bit of money in a solar cell company. I tell myself that if all people apply that kind of logic to environmental matters, the world is going to be ok.
But I love my car.
It's a station car with a large engine. It's got air condition, it consumes between nine and ten liters of gas for every 100 kilometers I drive. Logic says: Hate it!
But I love it. It's comfortable, it's got a superb stereo, it's safe, it's spacious. And above all, it's cool. My friends ask me "how's the wagon?" and I tell them it eats gas even when it's parked. Still, I'm secretly thrilled that they find it cool enough to ask about, because its coolness rubs off and makes me look cool. Me! Cool! So though I ought to find a new set of wheels with twice the mileage, my pleased feeling in my gut is holding me back.
Now apply that kind of anti-environmentalist logic to over 700 million western consumers, and the 2 billion plus Chinese and Indians who are already doing their best to mimic western consumerism. Apply it not only to cars but to all the other products we're using to shape our identities and be cool--Gucci bags, iPods, USB cup warmers, specially designed cell phone covers, popstatics...
So all my story's idealist has to do is make consumerism uncool, and fortunately she has a few tricks up her sleeve. In the real world, though, it's up to consumers and advertising agencies to redefine 'cool' from something you buy to something you do. Like my story's idealist, I hope we make it before the world runs out of resources.

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jakobdrud
jakobdrud

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