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29 June 2009, 12:00 pm No Comments

It's Easy Being Green: Courting the Green Gay Dollar

This post was submitted by Michael

On Mondays, Michael explores the world of environmentalism and its intersection with queer culture in the column It’s Easy Being Green, despite what Kermit says.


Original Illustration by Cathryn

So, where are we in this conversation?  I’ve described my motivations for being an environmentalist, and some anecdotal proof suggesting I’m not totally off base.  I’ve done an evaluation of how green my lifestyle really is (not green enough, it seems), and reviewed all the ways that our post-industrial consumer culture puts stresses on the environment.  In the comments on my last post, someone expressed disappointment that I wasn’t really discussing the queer/green intersection.  I had addressed this briefly in an earlier post, and from here on out that will be the focus of my writing in this space.  I just wanted to establish some background first.

So, the first step in living a greener lifestyle is really to realize that nearly everything we touch in our modern world came from somewhere and will go somewhere when we’re done.  Look up from your computer (or iPhone?) and look around you?  What do you see?  Ask yourself where that item came from, and imagine where it will go when it’s “broken.”  Someone put up a sign in the laundry room of my building saying, “Throw it away?  There is no ‘away’.  Please recycle.”  Making that realization is really the first big step.  (That’s why I keep hammering that in.  It needs to be incorporated into one’s general consciousness.)

But once you’ve made that realization, what next?  I’m not suggesting we eschew all commercial products and return to living in the wildAs I said earlier, the meaning of life is to create order out of chaos, and we make so many beautiful things and add so much elegant order to the universe through our technological advancements.  The secret is to create more order than disorder.   But it’s time to go from theory to practice.  How does one go about living in harmony with the environment?

We need to start making informed choices with the items that come into our lives, and once they’ve reached their useful lives, dispose of these items properly or find other uses for them.  It is here where green and queer intersect.  Mainstream gay culture is anything but green.  It’s a machine specifically designed to separate gay men (with their high salaries and inferiority complexes) from their money.  The companies that target us focus very little on where their products come from or where they’ll go once we are finished with them.

I proposed earlier that gay men are less likely to be green because they’re too busy getting their own needs met.  But it’s not entirely their fault.  The easiest way for us all to live greener lifestyles would be for all the products and services available to us to be greener.  I’m currently at a cafe drinking an iced tea.  It came in a disposable plastic cup.  The cafe could have given me a glass instead, washed with eco-friendly dish soap and infinitely reusable.  Or they could use those plastic-like cups that are made from corn starch.  But instead, I end up throwing out something that will probably sit in a landfill for the next few hundred years.

It’s likely a Catch 22:  the queers worth marketing towards don’t care about the environment, so no green products or service are marketed towards them.  Without easy access to green products and with no ads appealing to our supposedly lacking environmental sensibilities, we have few opportunities to spend our money on green products or develop or reaffirm those sensibilities.

In looking for potential advertisers for this site, we’ve been pretty picky about what sorts of images we want to display and messages we want to send.  The current ad network we are working with have a lot of gay-oriented ads.  Happily many of them are for gay health issues, but many are auto related (car tires and auto insurance) or gay travel destinations.  Of all the products I’ve seen available for TNG placement, not a single one employs a green angle.

Perhaps it’s time to break that cycle, and to let corporations and marketers know that we demand greener products and services more readily available to us, and we want to know about them.  I’ll definitely be attempting to raise awareness of this fact in the coming posts here in this space.  I’ll also be helping to raise the awareness of green issues to queer people in general, simply by addressing environmental issues on the site regularly.

I promise, this is the last heady post in this series.  It’s time to get down to green tacks.

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