A central theme of American’s economic and cultural disposition is always wanting more. This dissatisfaction with minimalism and basic needs has put a strain on our environment. Fueled by the Industrial Revolution, we became focused on consumerism and the collection of stuff. The environmental movement of the 1960’s allowed buyers to analyze the impact of their purchases and begin to think more sustainably.
Modern day environmentalism reflects the trendy “go green” lifestyle. Now more than ever, we see buyers with heightened awareness of the environmental aspects of consumerism, so the quality of products has been pushed to increase. In fact, we have recently developed this fetishized need for organic, pesticide free, non-GMO green items.
We have become so separated from the food we put in our bodies, mainly because of the systematic bureaucracy that is our current agricultural industry. There has been an increase of Americans who do not want to give up the convenience of processed food and chemical ridden household items, but would pay a little more for something that they think is the healthier option. Major players in the consumer industry have been able to monopolize on and control the supply of certain items.
These companies began to realize the attractiveness of a green label and capitalize on the vulnerability of the customers. We have more recently become aware of a trend in product quality called greenwashing, which is when a company advertises its items as eco-friendly, when in fact they are far from it.
A style of greenwashing that can be seen heavily within the food industry is through visual deception. The green movement values a type of frontier ethic where there are limitless pastures and resources in rural America, scattered with small family farms, pesticide free agriculture, and little pollution. This is obviously not reality. However, as we shop in our congested urban areas, sometimes Americans cling to anything we believe to be healthy. We are enticed by pictures of red barns on meat packaging and egg cartons, and also words such as “CFC-free” and “all natural”. These companies give us a false perception that they are looking out for the best interest of the consumer and our environment, and this captivates us. Not only are these businesses misleading us to believe these products are eco-friendly, they are continuing to overcharge for them.
We have become a society so numbed by consumerism, that a disconnect has formed between us and the products we use on a daily basis. This gives big business room to take advantage of the market and present items as they choose. We are blind customers, willing to pay for anything. In order to combat against greenwashing, consumers around the country must become further educated and start consciously reading labels.
EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY