4.16.2008

The Jolly Green Giants

I subscribe to the Lowe's Creative Ideas newsletter (don't ask me why, 99% of the time they get automatically deleted) and was surprised to find the face of Green Machine Danny Seo smiling back from my inbox with this installment.
He touts several books under his green brand Simply Green, has created and hosted shows on HGTV, is the Environmental Lifestyle Contributor on The CBS Early Show, is Editor-at-Large of Country Home magazine, has contributed to Elle magazine, and has a new line of green home goods coming out through J C Penny.

Then there is the good-for-the-body green guy: Dr. Andrew Weil. Every time his name is mentioned, the image of a healthy, vibrant Santa Claus figure springs to mind. Aside from his ever growing list of health based books and brand of nutritional supplements, he's paired up with Nature's Path for food products, Waterford Wedgwood for a line of cookware, and Estee Lauder's Origins for his line of skin care products called Plantidote. I'm a big fan of Spontaneous Healing, it explains the easy-to-get-behind concept of integrative wellness in a fluid and comprehensive way, but navigating the site I feel like I'm dodging advertising bullets and this "Weil (TM) Your Trusted Health Advisor (TM)" is almost funny to me. (Trademark?? Really??)

What I can't decide is, why their prolific eco-status sticks out like a bruised green thumb. Is it because I feel a sense of pride and ownership in environmentalism so they're smudging the image of green by growing on such a massive scale? This would be an inherently self-defeating thought process, because it means I can't grasp the idea of ecological incorporation on the scale the world really needs.

Similarly, is it that I don't trust the big brands (although a cursory look into Nature's Path seems like it's a pretty good company) so these faces are now guilty by association?

Is it because I felt a connection with both of them as public figures at some point in the past, but now feel like they're "sellouts"? Something comparable to Modest Mouse losing their raw sound to become danceable corporate indie pop, which still I'll listen to, though all the while quietly mourning the lost edge. How effective is watered down integrity?

Which also makes me wonder if it just makes me even more aware of my own hypocrisy?

Perhaps I'm trying to preempt the disappointment of the fall of the environmental empire, once the trendiness wears off and oil prices go back down. It's hard not to notice the status of green to those with lots of it. Think of the rise of organic produce, it's small-scale farming image on a mass-produced, energy depleting level.

Despite any obvious signs of corporations scrubbing their images clean, the real question is: how progressive can it really be, when eco-guised consumption is still the bottom line padding the bottom line?

What do you think?

(image credits: Lowes Home Improvements; Dr Andrew Weil; Danny Seo)

4 comments:

daisyjanie said...

Same questions I have all the time. It just doesn't add-up to common sense to me. On a micro level, I wouldn't and don't necessarily or automatically take all the green giants' suggestions to heart. I listen, I read, I look, I gather and then I decide. It may happen that, if I were in the market for a new bed, I would consider Seo's wares at JCPenney. But, JCP is definitely capitalizing on Seo's status as the face of green living. How ever they put the spin on it to him when he signed on is a mystery to me. (I almost feel like it's going to turn into one of those Kathie Lee-Gifford-sweatshop-with-children-making-clothing situations--- where they told him one thing about the how the mattresses were made but are doing the exact opposite b/c nobody will know.) Some of the things I read on his blog seem very off the mark for me.....

On the macro level, I am *grateful* for the attention the eco-movement is getting despite the corporate profiteering. It needs a bigger voice...all the behind-the-scenes, underground things we are doing as caring conservators of the earth is not enough. I don't care if people get green b/c they feel it's righteous or b/c it's fashionable - maybe once they get a taste of it, they'll keep it up regardless of whose face is on the package.

I am reviewing a book right now called "green chic" - really good stuff. I'll post on Scoutie Girl when I'm done.

Sorry for the incoherent rambling...

mimulus said...

I know in the naturopathic community, Dr. Weil is consider to be a sell out. And not even that great of an "alternative healer". He seems to have a superficial understanding of any therapies and uses natural remedies in an allopathic way.

sk8ordiehard said...

It's great to hear both of your thoughts!
This morning I was trying to think of a way to appreciate the mainstream adaptation of this, and my best conclusion was that there is some success in big corporations trying to green their image (i don't really see it as a deeper ethical shift on their part). It means that all the support and passion poured into the companies that matter/make a difference and truly stand for change are somewhat threatening to the bigger companies, so they're trying to put up something of a profit dam.

I'd love to hear any more thoughts on this

Angeline said...

These things always rub me the wrong way too. I think it's because I try not to consume and purchase things I don't need, and this corprate eco-movement is about finding a way to sell more stuff. I am very happy people are learning more about the enviroment, but rarely do I hear non-sales oriented factual advice. I do want to make better choices when I purchase things, but I don't want to purchase extra things because it is the "eco" thing to do.