“Go green.” This now famous saying has been linked to environmental activist movements and organic farming initiatives since both of these movements were born.

An increased emphasis on the need to change our daily habits, from reducing our carbon footprint to limiting our reliance on nonrenewable energy, has been a hot button issue in the past few elections.

We are constantly reminded of the climate’s potential to change and our own role in coming change. With consumer initiatives driven by organic farming and “green” corporations, it seems like it has never been easier to both continue to consume at our current rate, while at the same time convincing ourselves that this new consumption is somehow different because the products we purchase are “certified green.”

However, companies that are committed to environmental sustainability seldom produce the increased availability of products that meet organic, fair trade, and other standards of ethical responsibility to our planet. Instead, corporations whose main focus is not green energy, reducing carbon footprints, or providing living wages for employees more commonly manufacture mainstream goods. This can be seen by the co-option of the organic label on foods that are not actually organic.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is no definition for what constitutes “organic.” This means that the organic label has essentially become a marketing ploy by large corporations that wish to make a profit off of a niche consumer group. By piggybacking on the green movement, multinational corporations such as Wal-Mart are able to appear superficially concerned with lessening its impact on the planet; however this concern is only as deep as the pockets of consumers who are willing to pay.

Once climate change initiatives impact a company’s ability to make a profit, immediately its concern for the environment decreases. This is made apparent by the lobbying efforts of corporations such as Monsanto, which have repeatedly attempted to block a legal definition of organic or the prohibition of genetically modified foods. In this way, these corporations have shown their customers time and time again that their commitment to environmental sustainability is merely a marketing scheme.

Climate change remains that large elephant in the room that no politician or policy maker wishes to discuss. We have lived for the past few years with the scientific data that shows rising average temperatures, rising sea levels, and dryer months.   According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s summation of October 2012, people born after 1985 have never lived through a month that was colder than average. The fact that there has not been a month colder than average in the past 27 years should be a cause of concern for those among us who wish to leave a healthy planet in the hands of future generations. Unfortunately, with the constant bombardment of false green initiatives and marketing ploys, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases.

As such, conscientious consumers should limit the amount of money they spend at large corporations or for products that only boost the green label with no actual connection to the green movement. Instead, if people wish to actually participate in a movement to “go green,” consumers should spend their money at local stores and farmer’s markets and always, always, always research products they want to buy prior to purchasing them. You never know what actually went into making that “green” Clorox household cleaning spray.


Hannah Walker can be contacted at


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