The Irony of Green Capitalism

Friday, February 12

By Paloma Doti

You don't destroy the planet, they do.

The other day I went to the supermarket and bought a can of soda. When I asked the cashier to give me a straw, she looked at me like I just committed all seven deadly sins at the same time. I immediately regretted it, but when I wanted to apologize and continue as if that moment had not happened, the lady roughly grabbed my shoulder, put her forehead against mine, and began to shout a speech about how youth disappoints her. She told me that I had to carry my own metallic straw with me everywhere I go and that I had to do my part to take care of the planet. Scared and wanting to separate my forehead from hers, I swallowed saliva and nodded. I grabbed my soda and as I was about to escape from the cashier, she yelled at me to get my attention and offered me a plastic bag to carry my can.

 In recent years we hear all the time terms such as climate change, greenhouse effect, sea pollution, deforestation and many other environmental problems. The truth is that the economic activities that we carry out seriously affect our environment and future generations. This is why the media, school and social networks are demanding that we stop using plastic toothbrushes, that we reduce water consumption, that we turn off the lights that are not used in the house, that we stop being so irresponsible, that the planet is like this because of us. However, we don´t put the focus on the fact that large corporations use so much plastic, waste liters and liters of water in their productions or that they do not use renewable energy. Suddenly the global ecological crisis is the fault of the neighbors who don't separate the garbage into recyclables and non-recyclables

What's the point of being eco-friendly when you go to the supermarket and everything from cookies to fruit is wrapped in plastic? You can't be eco-friendly when you recycle old t-shirts if there are hundreds of fast fashion stores out there. You can't be eco-friendly by buying an electric car if there are 150 gasoline car factories. There is no way to go beyond the system. We are locked up. Everything is filled with garbage and you feel desperate to get out, we blame each other while the big corporations watch us and wipe their  tears of laughter with bills. They put the heavy weight of responsibility for ecological problems on individuals.

The guilty point its accusing finger at us and tell us that if we continue to use plastic straws everything will turn dark and we will not be able to go outside without being suffocated by polluted air, but, if we use a metal straw, for every step that we give in the street flowers will bloom and birds will sing around us.

Is it not possible to live in capitalism and that everything is sustainable? No. This possibility includes thinking that one thing is not tied to the other, when in reality, ecological problems are the consequence of a wild economy. It is as if a child at school hit another and the principal asked them to be friends. The bully and the victim cannot coexist.

We are on an overpopulated planet, with needs that the market has to supply in order to continue sustaining itself economically. Natural resources renewal times are not the same as consumption times. Everything that the market offers to consumers can be used for 20 minutes but degraded in years.

After all, the lady who didn't want to give me a straw was under the influence of a moral placebo. Let's find the true remedy: recognize and point our fingers at the real guilty.

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