February 8, 2009

feeling the need for thneeds

I love inanimate objects. Beautifully crafted, cleverly conceived, impeccably executed things. I realize that this is at odds with the eco-imperative that I believe should be at the heart of all our lifestyle and consumer choices. I guess I've managed to reconcile my hypocritical nature by adopting (for the most part) a "look but don't buy" approach to pretty things.

The capitalist machine, being the great Darwinian beast it is, recognizes that it needs to adapt to the changing consumer conscience in order to survive. (By survive, I mean to continue to reap billions of dollars in profits.) Hence the explosion of "green" products: earth friendly SUVs, 4000 square foot monster homes built to green standards, eco-friendly decorating shows where the hosts seem to think that all a product needs to be eco-friendly is to be made from a natural material.

Sorting the fair trade organic wheat from the proverbial GMO sweatshop chaff is only made harder by products like this:

These "TransNeomatic" bowls claim to be made by a collective in Vietnam out of recycled scooter tires "Inspired by the scooters that zip through Vietnam's streets at all hours but distressed by the mountains of used tires that end up in the country's landfills, designers Fernando and Humberto Campana created the TransNeomatic bowl. Made from a used scooter tire that's filled with a web of natural wicker, the bowls articulate the tension between modernity and tradition that informs much of the developing world." Sounds good right. We'd all agree that repurposing an existing thneed is generally more earth friendly than creating a brand new thneed. The trouble here is that it appears (from the comments on the treehugger blog anyway) that these cleverly re-purposed bowls may not in fact be fashioned from recycled tires, but from brand new ones.

What's the moral of this story? Beware of thneeds in green clothing. After all, a thneed is a thneed is a thneed no matter how you try to green it up.

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