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The Sound of Culture Fighting With Itself (The Green Thing)

August 26, 2009

The Green ThingThe Green Thing is a super-cool new website (at least it is right now – these things move so fast…!).  It aims to promote greener living, through the following seven habits:

1. You get from A to B without any C when you Walk The Walk
2. It’s delicious but it causes more CO2 than cars so go Easy On The Meat
3. Resist the urge to buy the latest and Stick With What You Got
4. Turn down the central heating and turn up the Human Heat
5. The art of wasting nothing and using up everything: All-Consuming
6. Instead of jetting your way around the world, Stay Grounded
7. Don’t leave it on or even put it on, Plug Out

This all sounds very good to me.  But on the website I was also struck by something painful going on between the lines.  I think it was the sound of culture fighting with itself.

The noble aims of The Green Thing seem, at several points, to hit some fascinating real world contradictions. 

– It’s a site about getting together and taking responsibility; but it suffers from the usual internet facelessness

– It talks about cutting waste and sticking with what we’ve got; yet it’s sponsored by Microsoft and Nokia, Kings of the Upgrade

– It allows an open forum for discussion; but some of the comments on a video feature about Kate Moss display the usual internet characteristics: anonymous cynicism and defensive dismissal of Global Warming

But before I succumb to the same cynicism, I should say that this is a good thing.  Culture is fighting with itself (it happens in the church, too, of course).  It’s part of change, part of life. 

I guess the contribution of Breathe would be that it’s better to debate  these things with friends than strangers.  Also, leading technology companies should be working much harder on sustainability than just a bit of funding for public information initiatives.  Lastly, there is a great contribution to be made by the Christian narrative of a planet that matters and a God who blesses the generous.  Without this, we can be left with little more than ‘hey, save the planet because it’s going to be fun’.  Less stuff does indeed lead to more life, but last time I checked there were some serious costs to reckon with along the way, too.  This is where faith comes in…

Anyway, The Green Thing, I salute you.  And all who argue with you.  As long as the whole debate contributes to lasting change on the part of all of us.

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