The Commercialization of Earth Day (repost from Earth Day last year)

Monday April 22, 2013

By Belac Naw- Editor, Journal for the Propagation of Green Ideas in the United States of America (JPGIUSA)

A mere four years ago, Earth Day was a niche holiday. It was celebrated by the intellectual elite, college students, and Hollywood. In an effort to further the green cause, television executives began to insert “green themes” into TV shows and commercials that aired on their networks. America’s Next Top Model, in an effort to raise awareness about the abuse of humans towards plants, did a photo shoot where the models wore nothing but the real foliage of endangered plants that were stolen from a university laboratory. Season 10 of 24 consisted of Jack Bauer mercilessly chasing down international terrorists in a Prius and also while riding a Segway. Yes, the networks were engaged in a “Green War” as each attempted to outdo the other in seeing who could incorporate the most green technology and commercials into the their programming.

Unfortunately, the new programming strategy only appealed to people living in Seattle, San Francisco, and Europe.  The rest of the United States saw an increase in illegal downloads of classic “non-green” TV shows from yesteryear such as “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” and the classic radio drama “The Shadow.” Due to a loss in advertising revenue, the government bailed out all of the networks except CW. Today, each network airs only green programming and they do not need to seek advertising revenues for survival since they are now supported through a small “green tax” which is automatically deducted from the paychecks of every American along with the other regular deductions.  The privately owned CW continues to be profitable and avoid a government takeover by airing reruns of pre-industrial shows such as “Bonanza” and “Hee-Haw.”

While these steps in going green have been steps in the right direction, they have also led to a disturbing trend. In order to help facilitate my celebration of Earth Day, I drove down to Green-Mart to buy some carbon credits to offset the BBQ I had at my green apartment over the weekend. Just a few years ago, a trip to the store on Earth Day would have been met with the occasional sign encouraging recycling and the use of biodegradable diapers. Today, I was met with one man dressed up as a tree and another dressed up like a Prius handing out coupon books for the second biggest selling day of the year: “Green Monday (or whatever day Earth Day falls on).” I opened the coupon book and it was much to my chagrin that I saw how much this envrionmental holy day had been corrupted by capitalism and evil corporations. There was a coupon for half off a box of “Green Peeps.” They were shaped like trees and sold in a box made from a dried out canteloupe.

I made my way through Green-Mart, pushing through lines of people scrambling to get their hands on a deeply discounted and special edition release of “An Inconvenient Truth.” It did my heart good to see that many people yearning for a copy of such a stellar movie. Then I noticed something, they were still selling the movie in the old plastic DVD cases! Yes, friends, we have truly lost our way on Earth Day. How can we sell copies of a movie as magnificent and life changing as “An Inconvenient Truth” and do so while packaging it in plastic! Imagine the carbon footprint created to make those packages?

I finally reached the “Automated Carbon-Credit Teller Machine” (ACCTM) and swiped my credit card (made of a new biodegradable polymer, not the old plastic). I tapped through the menues- Social Activities-BBQ-Lenth of BBQ-1-2 Hours-Tofu burgers BBQ’d-20-Carbon Offset Fee-$64.34-Would you like to plant a tree for an additional fee of $5?-Yes-Total Carbon Offset Fee 69.34-Is this correct-Yes-You card has been charged! Thanks and “GO GREEN!”

I made my way back through the crowd of mothers dragging screaming infants clinging to their new “Tickle-Me-Green” Kermit dolls. I knew I had made a difference, but I couldn’t help but be pertrubed at how our niche holiday seems to have lost some of its meaning. We used to celebrate by burning lots of gas guzzling SUVs and tying ourselves to trees, today we seem to be content with getting up 5am and driving to Green-Mart to get the special Earth Day sales on tree shaped Peeps and the latest video games (the most popular being “SimCity Goes Green” and “Doom 6: Green Apocalypse”).

I would encourage each of you to remember what Earth Day is all about. It is not supposed to be a day of drunkenness and debauchery. It is supposed to be a day spent in somber meditation over how we can better serve Mother Earth. So, I encourage you to skip the trip to Green-Mart (unless to buy carbon credits to offset your BBQ) and instead plant a tree. I have already planted my tree and plan to spend the rest of the day doing yoga, meditating, and watching old videos of exploding SUVs and angry city workers brandishing chainsaws, dressed in flannel shirts, and trying to figure out how to untie the hemp ropes that were used to secure me to a poplar tree in a children’s park that had grown into the power lines and had already electrocuted three small children who were climbing in it. We must keep our priorities straight. GO GREEN!

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