The New Green Cool: Integral to Sustainability?
The green movement has an uncertain relationship to "cool." From the 1960s through the 70s, anti-establishment sentiment was running high enough that environmentalism could piggyback upon the civil rights movement, the Native rights movement, anti-material sentiments, and the belt-tightening of the energy crisis. While not everyone agreed that the earth deserved more respect, in the 80s, 90s and today the green movement has often found itself battling a "dirty hippie" image. Environmentalism became equated in some minds with an over-earnestness or a strident call to action. Is it possible to be modern-ironic-cool and still careful about one's ecological impact? Put another way, does being cutting-edge require a lot of stuff: new stuff that is rapidly replaced by the trends? This is what came to mind upon reading Treehugger's headline from yesterday: Greener by Design 2009: It Doesn't Matter If It's Sustainable If It Isn't Cool, and Other Insights. Take this quote from a Greener by Design panel with Method's Adam Lowry:
In this model, "coolness" not only sweetens the deal in any green transaction, it is really a requirement for a consumer to enter into the deal to begin with.
"Design" is something that we often associate with luxury, and "trend" with throwaway culture. Recently I came across the David Report, a Swedish "trend report" relating "design trends to social, economical and ecological patterns and phenomena's over the entire global - local scale. One of the reports I read was The Sustainable Wheel. Available in pdf and an online flip-through version that has the nice layouts of a print version without all the paper, the report changed some of my views about the role design has to play in the green movement. Check it out, it's beautifully done.