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Conspicuous environmentalism pisses me off.

Conspicuous environmentalism pisses me off. published on 5 Comments on Conspicuous environmentalism pisses me off.

We frequent several grocery stores within walking distance of our apartment: a Whole Foods [for produce], a Trader Joe’s [for frozen food], a local co-op [for milk and quick trips and a Shaw’s/Star Market [for prepared foods and to recycle bottles and plastic bags]. All of these stores sell reusable cloth shopping bags, which we use about 75% of the time. But only Whole Foods sells the reusable bags that piss me off.

As shown in this online store, the annoying reusable bags are bright yellow with the following message on them: I’M SAVING THE PLANET. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

This conspicuous, confrontational environmentalism pisses me off because its point is not just to “save a tree,” but also to “look fashionable while doing it” [quote from]. I have a problem with pro forma environmentalism where the appearance of environmentalism matters more than actual actions, as is the case with this bag. The text on the bag equates “saving the planet” with using this particular bag or, by extension, making a show of one’s environmentalism. 

Furthermore and much more problematically, the implied contrast between the owner who is “saving the planet” and the audience who is being interrogated suggests that the audience is not doing anything to save the planet. The audience may be doing environmentally conscious activities in other areas of life; or the audience may have mitigating factors that prevent them from spending extra money in order to flaunt their environmentalism like white urban bourgeois hipsters. The bag will not admit of these possibilities. In the limited calculus of the bag, bag = saving the planet = cool. No bag = harming Mother Earth = evil. At first this bag seems like a minor irritant, but it’s actually an explosive mess of classist [and possibly racist] assumptions.


My main bag is home made. It has monkeys on it. Classy monkeys. My secondary bag was a gift, and is imprinted with inconspicuous Engrish.

I tend to do most of my shopping at Kroger, which takes 4¢ off of your bill for every reusable bag you supply. The dopes at regular check out don’t ever fill the big monkey bag to my liking, though, so I use the self check out and lose the 4¢ credit but avoid using, y’know, any plastic bags. This whole environmentally conscious grocery bag ethos still has far to go.

I totally agree

I am so glad there are others who feel the same way!
Have you been to Target recently? you should go visit their clothing and bags section. It’s like a fad and it’s everywhere.. a fashion statement now.. to be “green”. But it all just seems like people buy these bags and shirts with the recycling symbol on them to a) make themselves look like better people (because i’m sure they don’t feel great about themselves anyway)
and to b) justify using a reusable bag with driving a gas-guzzling vehicle, drinking 10 bottles of water a day, and throwing away 10 bags of trash each week.
at first I was so excited to see more people into the environment, but now it just annoys the hell out of me. I’m sure it’s made some sort of change- I sure see a ton more reusable bags being brought into the grocery stores- but I am just disappointed that our society has turned the whole green thing into a fashion statement.

I hope this makes sense- you have a much better way with words than I do- but i hope you understand what i’m trying to say, haha!
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