Do we have a case of eco-fatigue?

I’ve been dreading this trend since Al Gore’s movie came out. I knew when eco-stuff hit the mainstream, that it wasn’t the begining of an era when everyone turned vegan and dressed in hemp clothing, but rather it was the turning point against our environment. Sure enough, a new trend has been spotted, “eco-fatigue”.

First, I spotted here in the recent global warming thread. Man, there is some bad blood out there and a lot of cynical people. I’ve found that when something catches on amongst designers, it’s an indication that there is a trend. Sure enough, I received an email to this link:

One of the trends mentioned is eco-fatigue. Now, I’m worried.

I’ve noticed this too. Some in my own life, and quite a bit at the Connections Conference. Check out these photos on the sustainability wall at one of the rooms at the conference. I feel the more mainstream this is becoming…which ultimately I think is good, the less people seem to care. Its kind of sad, especially the apathy I seem to be experiencing lately.

Let me know if yo cant read the photos.

We had a housewarming party this past weekend and usually we place our recyclables back into the case they come in. Well our guests chose not follow our lead and at one point I looked over to someone exclaming, “Go Earth!” as they tossed their bottle into our trash.

I found this to be a perfect example of how people are so tired of hearing it, they’re just rebelling completely.

I think that not recycling bottles is just sheer laziness. I was thinking more along the lines of integrating sustainable thinking into design process and manufacturing. Although, I too have seen that at parties and what not and haven’t said anything so, I guess I am jsut as bad as the rest. What is that they say? " If you are not a part of the solution you are apart of the problem."

Dunno. Personally, from Captain Planet when I was a kid, to later veggie days, it’s been such a defining part of my life that I can’t be tired of the “trend”. But I totally see cool-setters being “fatigued”, gotta find something newer and better, and while we haven’t found that new cool we’re going to rebel and reject whatever masses are endorsing…obedience and following rules are inherently uncool.

But you know, “One toothpick out of the corner of your mouth, looking cool. Second toothpick out the other side of the mouth, looking like a dickhead.” And that’s where the “give global warming a chance” people end up, in the dickhead segment. I think it’s a great idea to question marketing hype surrounding “green”, but being too lazy to throw a bottle in recycling just makes you look like a douche nozzle.

I’m pretty disgusted at the number of cans, bottles and boxes I see in the trash. At least here in Quebec they have a deposit on bottles, so our homeless population get a decent amount of those bottles in the trash back over to recycling where they belong!

Something that I think green-thinkers should be out in front of is another trend in that same webpage I link. That being “Blandtastic”. A lot of energy and waste could be saved if we repackage our green products as bland products (assuming the trend grows).

I’ve noticed something in cars. The '90’s was the era of SUVs. This was a get-back-to-our-roots feeling amongst consumers. After people drove god-awful vehicles for enough years, people started migrating back to cars as, I believe, they wanted luxury again in place of perceived utility. The next trend very well could be bland small cars, especially if these are pushed hard. I’m going to use the Mini as an example, albeit imperfect. The Mini is comfortable and safe, but has the added benefit of being just about the smallest thing you can fit 4 people in (or two and some luggage). This is almost a Japanese sushi view of automobiles, but I think it might be the next big trend (projecting out 10-15 years). Across other products, you can see how this could be a boon for the environment!

Does anyone have any good ideas that might help to reverse the eco-fatigue? I feel like the idea of it being a trend is what might kill the greater idea of changing the way people think and live. For example when a smoker decides to quit, they arent just stopping smoking they are making a bigger lifestyle change. Can this idea of lifestyle change be liased into the “being green” or better being beyond green? Actual living with not on or in.

I hope that made sense.

Unless I am misreading your point you seem to be making the assumption that because I may question the hype that I don’t recycle or believe that moving towards a more efficient system is a worthy goal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I question the hype. I question whether it is CO2 vs. Urbanization that is causing “Global Warming”. I don’t question that altruism behind “Green”. Getting rid of Coal burning plants, more efficient vehicles…pick your low hanging fruit. It is all good no matter what is truly happening in the environment. Frankly, I don’t care what is causing it.

I do fall in the catagory of fatigue. If someone is busy cramming a chart or graph down my throat that I have already digested and understand my reaction is to want to piss on their shoes, or just tune out. I call it a “Preaching to the Choir” syndrome.

All that said, my fatigue isn’t with doing the right thing. I still recycle. I am designing “green” products to the best of my ability. I am actively looking to extend my company in to alternative energy products or similar areas.
My fatigue is listening to the near fanatical rants of people telling me that I need to do more. Which brings me to my response to Coledf…

What can eliminate eco-fatigue? For the Creators ( to make the system EFFORTLESS for people to be green. If it takes effort, it will not happen. I don’t care if Abrupt Climate Change will happen tomorrow and we could stop it by recycling every can in the house. People will not change if it means crossing the street to put that bottle in the blue bin. If it means spending $10K more on a Hybrid over an SUV at the point of sale…it won’t happen.

An example…British Columbia has a blue bin system. I can recycle a LOT of stuff. But I have to go back to a flyer that I receive in the mail periodically that updates me what the new “rules” for recycling are. I can recycle 1, 2, 3, and 5 (I think…see…I don’t know for sure). Why can’t I just toss EVERYTHING plastic in the bin? Why is the onus on me to remember what the rules are?

I also have to strip off all labels from bottles. I have to wash every piece first. Sure, I can be lazy and not do that. But why can’t the SYSTEM change and not me?

Right now the SYSTEM makes the rules not the people. The day I can put ALL my garbage on the street and someone else sorts it is the day that it will be a universal phenomenon.

You can scream at me all you want that its being lazy. That I should take more pride in the environment. But again, you’re screaming at the wrong person. My argument is an observation of the other 80% (yes, I am pulling that number out of my ass). The other 80% are far lazier than me. Have far less money than me. Far less to lose if they don’t recycle, or install a roof-top wind power source. The other 80% don’t give a shit about charts and graphs and it is up to US as designers to fix this by making being Green invisible.

So, now that I have taken a lot of heat for questioning the “science” behind the “Global Warming Fad”…what is everyone else here doing beyond the current Haute Couture to make the system more efficient or better?

Phrases like “give glbal warming a chance” or the inanity about the sun in that heated global wrming-red herring thread dismiss the sincere altruism of people that tend to get passionate about that issue. They don’t make you think about the issue from a new provocative angle, an example of that could be the original question in the red herring thread.

Being unsatisfied with the current way of looking at the issue, and rolling one’s eyes “gawd…”green”…not again” are of completely different variety.

Being unsatisfied with the current way of looking at the issue, and rolling one’s eyes “gawd…”green”…not again” are of completely different variety.

I dont know if I can completly agree with this. I feel like they are pretty inherently intertwined. To IP’s point, the system needs to adapt in order for the people to want to. It needs to be as seamless as possible. Again though, its much easier said than done. I dont feel like there is enought “call to action”. I know it may sound pathetic on our part (meaning the world), but we’ll get more response when thay get something tangible out of it.

Its simply human nature. You can either fight it, or try and figure out how to get around it. The majority of people feel useless to The System. “What can I do, I am just one person”.

People are selfish.

i guess the question is then…Can we design selflessness, or make people want to care?

No. But we can design so that people don’t HAVE to care.

Use my recycling example above. Make recycling nothing more than tossing everything in a garbage bin and putting it at the curb.

Real change isn’t going to happen unless the Creators (Large Corporations/Governments, etc.) enable the Integrators (Designers, Engineers, SMEs) to design products that inherently don’t cause problems.

What’s the biggest complaint you hear on Core? That Designers go about their day designing landfill, or another inefficient non-green products.

Why? Why don’t we all design only non-landfill products?

IMO it has zero to do with our position in a company or lack of desire. It is more to do with the puzzle pieces that we have to integrate into a new product. RHOS compliance, or recyclable/compostable plastics, design for disassembly doesn’t mean squat if the system into which those concepts feed into are broken or non-existent.

No. But we can design so that people don’t HAVE to care.

That’s gold IP, GOLD!

I didn’t start this thread because you started the “what if it is a red herring” thread. I started it because of the reaction to the other thread.

I was thinking about this situation this morning when I got my cup of tea. My generation has been through these crisis:

  1. starving people in Ethipia
  2. the ozone hole
  3. global warming part I
  4. the ice caps melting
  5. terrorism from libya (perceived)
  6. terrorism from lebanon (perceived)
  7. Soviet invasion
  8. nuclear war
  9. nuclear winter
  10. nuclear meltdown
  11. love canal/water pollution
  12. horrible smog
  13. chicken flu
  14. pig flu
  15. better-learn-Japanese/the jobs are leaving part I
  16. acid rain

I could probably come up with a few more, but I think I’ve made my point. Some of the problems were only perceived and hyped (terrorism). Some have been forgotten (starving Africans). Some have actually been reversed because of widespread action (water pollution, ozone hole, CFC ban by the Montreal Treaty). Unfortunately, no one knows what happened in any of the situations because the news only reports when the problem is found, not solved.

However, note that the biggest improvements in the environment have come from above. Governments banned CFCs, freon, etc. and it has helped the environment. Governments limited the amount of smog producing particulates in exhaust and industrial exhaust and smog has improved in most cities. In other words, T C Mits did not have to lift a finger…which brings us back to IP Wirelessly.

David Suzuki and Al Gore + whoever else, should be raising funds for research, and raising pressure on governments to pass new legislation and tax cuts or grants for companies doing the right thing. Not guilting out some poor schmuck for driving a Ford Ranger.

The 1960’s and late 1800’s both had Environmental/ return to Nature(Natural)/ Health movements wrapped up in political movements. It would be interesting to research why each died out, what were the lasting effects/positive effects, and what were the negative side affects (in both cases the pendulum swung hard the other way for example).

There is always historical reference. While the situations are specific, and the resources/technology evolved, this isn’t new.

Well, I just received this email from trend watch regarding the link I posted yesterday:

Dear Raymond,

We hope you enjoyed the very special trend briefing we sent you yesterday. If you didn’t, then please pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and take another close look. It’s a SPOOF. Fake. Not to be taken at face value. Even most of the sites we referred to are, well, ours—and entirely fictitious.

We thought it would be fun, just for once, to mock overzealous marketers, crass consumerism and—above all—ourselves. :slight_smile: So please don’t ditch your pet, stay in ugly hotels, pollute the earth, paint your walls turquoise or start marketing to unborn babies, OK?

I only have two thoughts: 1. why did they make a post like this 5 months before or 7 months after April and 2. How come, at least the eco-fatigue, seemed so friggin’ realistic. Maybe the trend people haven’t noticed, but Core has…

what we are fatigued about are the continuous apocryphal arguments, as any contested argument becomes ad hominem.

Fatigue comes when there is nothing new to add to the discussion.

This point may have been reached in the climate change debate, certainly it has been reached in other debates such as abortion, PC vs. Mac, conservative vs. liberal, etc.

But a by product seems to be the small local solution syndrome. As governments prevaricate and experts denounce each other, people go about enacting there own small solutions. Small local solutions will eventually add up to massive positive change.

An example is the small local organic growers becoming fairly common. Our various large (inter)national food producers and retailers had nothing to do with their birth, embracing them only after it was obvious people wanted and would pay for their product.

Oh i was there in the 60’s 70’s one (1900 not 1800) IMO here is the shake down, people are for the most part short term, PEOPLE not just gov’s. In the past you had some trend fire up and yippyzippy it was the THING to be/talk about ( I call it the getting laid factor) but then it becomes hard and so it become less of a “thing”. The snap back is of course all the “cool” people are zigging while the rest of the world is zagging, because if they were in step they would no longer be cool. Dig? Only times this shit sticks is when it hits HARD in the wallet, the 70’s did give us (for a while) cars with better fuel econ and did give us much better air quality (state and fed regs). Fuel econ gets ballanced off though, hell people are not totaly dense they know that small cars burn less fuel but that Hummer or monster SUV says this to the world " i can aford it, you cant, neener neener", not much different than having a new car that has a top speed over 180mph. So thats the blast from the past, comes down to dollars, status and image.

ignore that