Sharon Begley would like to take this moment on Earth Day to burst your little bubble about how much you think you're helping the environment. Sure, buying those ubiquitous "green" products makes everyone feel better, as does recycling, and cutting home energy use. But changing individual behavior doesn't cut it. The only thing that makes a real difference is legislation on industry, but people would rather change light bulbs than push for laws.
"The message that we cannot consume our way out of climate change, or shop our way out of crashing fisheries or vanishing species or depleted seas, isn't as much fun as 'buy green!,'" Begley writes at Newsweek. "But the latter comes at a cost. By believing that green shopping—or even recycling, turning down the thermostat, or carpooling—is enough, we consent to the continuation of the same societal practices that got us into this mess. Compared with the scale of the disaster, changing individual behavior is pathetically inadequate."