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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Green Passivism

Maybe you’ve seen the new Svedka ads lumbering by on MBTA buses. “Stop Global Warming: Add More Ice” and “Make Cocktails not War.” Svedka is a Swiss vodka maker, so they are necessarily cooler and more politically aware than us. While it’s great to have such environmental and political sentiments make it into public spaces, it makes me wonder if consumerism is our only feasible way to make political statements.

As green products and services gain momentum in the market and the press, the saying “you vote with your dollar” has more and more resonance. You can start your day with hormone-free milk, buy your t-shirts from an American company that offers a living wage and free massages to its employees, and wash your dishes in biodegradable detergent. McDonald’s even serves “Newman’s Own” organic salad dressings. But communicating with corporations-with Visa as our translator-only highlights the fact that we let corporations speak for us. Are we too disenfranchised to see social justice as a participatory endeavor?

Being caught up in these feel-good consumer items distract from real action. Buying green is nice and all but whatever happened to the activism of yore? You know demonstrations, writing to our elected officials, not buying things? Yesterday’s activism has been replaced with today’s green passivism. Buying things is a weak form or resistance-it is a method that operates within, and legitimizes the status quo.

I’ll admit my own political activism is miniscule as of late. But instead of simply chastising myself for buying canvas sneakers made on the other side of the globe, I can formulate actual strategies of resistance. I’m not asking that we all start foraging for mushrooms in our backyards or chide our housemates for not recycling their term papers. I’m just wondering what we might do with those minutes and dollars we devote to the good, green, consumerist causes.