Green gift guides are destroying the environment. Or at least that’s what PSFK editor-in-chief Piers Fawkes would have you believe. In an editorial titled “Tis the Season to Avoid Green Gift Guides,” Fawkes blazes with the fervor of the recently converted—a result, he admits, of working with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project on ways to harness gaming behaviors for the collective good. “What has happened to the environmental movement?” he asks. “It seems to be all about top 10 green-product lists and there’s little about who’s really causing damage to our planet. Blogs and magazines seem to be keen to wave the latest cool eco-packaging ideas in front of our noses but ignore the deeper environmental issues at the companies that are making the products that are wrapped in it.” In short, bah humbug.

Green Gift Guide, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

CASH IS KING

Fawkes, classily, doesn’t name names, but the result is a maddening air of vagueness behind his admonishment. Green journos are doing more ill than good, he says, because their focus on individual action absolves The Man of any responsibility. “The green media needs to stop telling people to buy cool stuff that’s labeled organic or BPA-free,” he writes, “and they need to start helping people identify who is at fault here so that people can actively lobby the companies folks buy from, or the employers people work for.”

Green journos are doing more ill than good, Fawkes says, because their focus on individual action absolves The Man of any responsibility.

But who’s to say that the notions are mutually exclusive? Before bisphenol-A became the target of parental vexation, there were phthalates, toxic plasticizers that were ubiquitous in teething rings and pacifiers as late as 1998. Pressure from health advocates led the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ask manufacturers to remove them, but it was only after parents refused to buy the tainted toys did companies finally agree to change the formulation.

Viva la resistance.

To say that the power of the consumer is inconsequential, then, is woefully misguided. As the Occupy Wall Street movement clearly demonstrates, loud, boisterous actions, packed to the gills with rhetoric, aren’t necessarily the most effective.

Because let’s face it, as far as corporations are concerned, money doesn’t just talk. It sings.

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Green Gift Guide, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

CHANGE IS GOOD…OR NOT

It’s true that a roundup of the season’s “must-buy” gifts appears trite when our planet is hurtling towards imminent destruction, but we’re a selfish race that’s massively resistant to change. Any claim that we can buy ourselves out of this debacle is equally erroneous, of course, but asking people to give up shopping altogether? Good luck with that.

To say that we can buy ourselves out of this debacle is equally erroneous, but asking people to give up shopping altogether? Good luck with that.

At Ecouterre, carrot and stick are hardly strangers. For every story we publish on vegan accessories for the holidays, you’ll find one deriding ridiculous pinkwashed products. For every series of green grooming tips for men, there’s a screed denouncing Walmart and JCPenney for their complicity in Jordan’s “rape factory.” Loved our post on jewelry stands made from salvaged timber? We hope you’ll stay to read our piece on why fast fashion is the Antichrist.

Our gift guides aren’t just filler—they showcase thoughtful, socially and environmentally conscious wares that are alternatives to cookie-cutter, sweatshop-produced goods. It’s not enough to appeal to people’s consciences, after all. You have to speak the same language before you can draw them into a productive conversation.

Regular Joe may not have the emotional wherewithal to tackle the toxic garment industry head on, but he can use his wallet to vote for a better state of affairs. And if that fair-trade scarf or deadstock-canvas backpack turns out to be a “gateway purchase” that begs and begets a larger context? That’s more of a victory than even we could ever hope for.

+ PSFK