Green By Any Other Name (Eco-burnout?)

As we mentioned in this post, our publisher wanted us to think of a new name for our book, which was previously titled the Green Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet. The reason? Green fatigue. In just a few years, “green” got played out. What does this mean for the “green movement” in general? Are people sick of the entire concept–not just the word? Will we stop recycling and start driving our Hummers again? Will we run around flipping ON the light switches?

I don’t think so.  Sure, there are always going to be people who won’t care about the planet. And then there will be those who jumped on the green bandwagon a little too enthusiastically and got burnt out. But global warming isn’t a trend–it’s here to stay, and it’s getting worse. So we might as well do something about it, whether we call it “green” or just “common sense.”

Are you suffering from green fatigue–or do you have any words of wisdom for those with severe cases of eco-burnout?


  1. I think it can get overwhelming. Trying to be ‘as green’ as you can and kids your kids (and yourself!) as safe as you can, feeding them all the ‘right’ foods & any extras (we use cod liver oil to boost the immune system and, in particular, to avoid ear infections! — is it enough? Should I do more? Am I fooling myself that it really works??), making sure everything is free of this, and has enough of that…

    I was just thinking about it the other day.

    It’s enough to make your head spin!

    Didn’t really answer the question – just throwing that out there :)

  2. YOu know what? I think the reason for the burnout on the name is that it is no longer a phenom, it’s becoming more just part of life. That is my hope! I know that NOW in my classroom the recycling bin fills up faster than the garbage and kids don’t whine when I remind them to recycle. I use my 7th graders as a gauge for the general population and at that age they are still just mimicking what they hear from their parents. So I think people are getting used to it! There are so many things I do now just without thinking and I have to really stop to realize that just a few years ago, my household ran very differently. I think for me, I have passed level 1 and it feels like a big hurdle to level 2. I’ve made all the small changes I can think of and it is making the big changes that is going to be hard.

  3. Yes, ‘Green’ is just the current term that means helping and protecting and caring for the Earth. Yet I understand that ‘Green Living’ and ‘Green Baby’ are highly searched terms on the internet.

    Perhaps when feeling either overwhelmed with the enormity of the problem (I often quail at the shrinking polar ice reports, having a little shudder that isn’t related to that expanse of coldness that helps protect our planet), or when feeling “Can we really make a difference?” When others do not seem to care, the best approach is to zoom back down to my own little world, and make a difference there.

    To do what I can today, while believing that others just like me are doing the same, and collectively, together, we are making a difference and even passively gradually encouraging others around us. I keep in mind the idea I once learnt when reading about saving money on electricity – unplugging the cords and turning off switches will barely make a difference to OUR electricity bill – but collectively, across a city, it means an extra electricity plant is needed when everyone leaves all these appliances idling when not in use. Collectively, we can make a difference!


  4. Papertiger says:

    Or perhaps most people have tumbled to the fact that they are being conned, and are growing really sick of being told to tighten their belt, conserve their energy, make do with less while paying more and more for it, while AL Gore’s bank account and belly get fatter and fatter.
    That’s my reason.

  5. In marketing terms, cultural as well, ‘green’ has become a term synonymous with the psychological shift taking place that questions ‘business as usual.’ However, ‘green’ does not do enough to counter hyperconsumerism in general, and the thought that many things can be bartered or found for free, instead of purchased, remains elusive (on that note, i think your website offers many practical and common sense ideas).
    There are many shades of ‘green,’ and when it is whittled down to its most simplistic and superficial meaning (one devoid of holism, but instead just another act of trendy, unquestioning consumerism), we end being fooled by unresponsible businesses just hijacking ‘green’ or ‘natural’ or ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly’ in order to make a quick buck.

    My biggest fear, is that “green” and all its related terms comes to be abused and hijacked by our growth-oriented, profit-motivated economic system to make more green and not the true social change we direly need. For example, in this era of nature-fear via dirty air, contaminated soil and water, and biological changes in organisms, many industries/businesses will proclaim themselves as the “safe and green(natural, eco-friendly, etc)” alternative that can reassure us that our purchasing acts are enough to stave off the dangers of the toxicity we around us. But buying soy-based and corn-based widgets are not any better green-alternatives to petroleum-based widgets, especially when it takes great amounts of water, energy and habitat-depleting monocultures to satisfy the mass amounts of widgets we buy.
    Sorry for the long-winded response. I guess i do have a bigger beef with “green!’ than even i thought because i have more to say but i will force myself to stop writing now.

    Thanks again for your website and work! I visit your viewpoint regularly.

  6. Just an extra note:

    Like Chandra, I also believe deeply in personal change for greater collective action and in response to eileen, I think ‘green’ truly is the first hirdle, the introductory ‘buzzword’ for many into questioning ‘business as usual.’ For that is really what the current movement is about, holding the business community, and our respective consumer support, accountable, on a daily basis, toward environmental change.

    But changing the our daily habits is not enough, and I think the next step is toward meaningful political action. As mom’s, I don’t think many of us want to add political campaigning to our daily list of chores. Does any one have any ideas as to how mommas/parents can become/act as a real political force that forwards the agenda of an economy that supports the social, ecological and financial health and vitality of families and communities and not the ticking numbers on the Dow Jones Index?

  7. language has a its limits, and eventually most labels develop some sort of backlash. while the term “green” may have become trendy and subsequently tired, i believe the movement continues to grow. it’s becoming more difficult to ignore our impact on the earth.

    practices that were once considered hippie or lefty are becoming more mainstream as interest in things like reducing waste and eliminating chemicals in foods and household supplies continues to grow.

    i don’t think the “green” movement is going anywhere. at least i hope not!

  8. Hey! I admire your writing and the way you explain things. Some of the comments on here too are insightful. I appreciate you. keep it up!

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