My friend Jeffrey Davis is a veteran of Web publishing, having put in years building up the Fun Times Guide to Living Green, and recently having written for MNN and elsewhere. Jeffrey is based in Tennessee, and it's no exaggeration to say that he's one of the nicest, most helpful guys in the green blogosphere.
Jeffrey's newest project is a quirky green site called Eco-Snobbery Sucks. It's a memorable title in a field that is getting increasingly crowded with various plays on the word "green," and it hints at the site's laid-back style and casual tone, much like Jeffrey, who is as all-inclusive, welcoming, and non-judgmental as anyone I've met who self identifies as green. Though the word "sucks" was banned from my house when I was a kid, it seems pretty tame by today's standards, to quote Bart Simpson.
According to Jeffrey, the reason he founded Eco-Snobbery Sucks is to bring attention to the oft-forgotten truth that every step taken towards green matters, big or small. According to the site's faq, eco-snobbery could also play out when:
The Website attempts to bring more diverse folk under a big green tent, luring them in with promises of no judgement, no prosthelyzing, and a healthy dose of fun and bizarre (note the epic promo slide photo of the "car pool" up today). Eco-Snobbery also has some promising cartoons, including this entry that seems to really sum up the whole mission.
URTH Guy spent a little time with Jeffrey on the phone to find out more about the site.
URTH Guy: Can you take us through the launch of Eco-Snobbery briefly?
Jeffrey Davis: Sure. Content first went up around the first of December, and its growing from there. I'm the founder. Seth Leitman [co-author and co-editor of my recent book Green Lighting] is going to write some. Joe [Mohr] is doing some cartoons. I've got a guy coming on the first of February to run health, fitness and yoga topics. So its not just a one-man gig, my vision is to have it be a real team.
We do a mix of business and consumer-oriented content. As much as I wish I could say three to five quality pieces a week would work, you have to have three to five a day.
What exactly does the term "eco-snobbery" mean?
I hate it when I do something green and then someone tells me, "Yeah, but that's not enough." I think everything is a cool step, it's better than nothing. That's how I look at it on a personal and business level. The point is to encourage people to take steps they feel comfortable with.
Eco-Snobbery Sucks doesn't bitch about how eco-snobbery does suck so much, it's more about encouraging people to take comfort in every step they do take. Don't let someone tell you that something is not enough. It's fine with me if someone thinks differently than that.
Are other publications guilty of eco-snobbery?
Yes definitely. One of the reasons it's possible that some businesses get into greenwashing is because they're trying to make themselves sound greener than they are so they don't get backlash. Someone says, "You made your product 1% organic, why didn't you do 100%?" I say: 1 is better than nothing. It's a strong narrative, the "yeah but." Yeah but
Sure, I could live off the grid. I'm not going to, unless I have a huge value shift. I don't see that happening anytime soon.
What is the downside to eco-snobbery?
I did some polling on this, and asked, "What's the biggest reason you don't live greener?" Most people said because they were afraid that they'd be seen as not doing enough, and they didn't know where to start. The result of eco-snobbery is that people end up not doing anything. People think they don't want to be a part of living green. Why would I want to be seen as a hippie treehugger? The result is apathy.
Who is your intended audience?
We have a focus on consumers and business to business. For right now the target audience is anyone who has felt alienated or lost in the green discussion, either through confusion, misinformation, or from being a target of an ecosnob. It's someone looking for that safe space where they can feel confident. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg did a write-up on the site recently, and he said we created a "safe space for everyone in the green conversation."
What do you say to those who might push back, and question if every small step really does matter?
I don't think one step has to mandate another one. I'm a big hiker, and often times the same trail leads to different places. Some people want to hike to a specific point, check out a view or a cave, or maybe I go past them, stop before them, or take another trail. We're all making that own individual journey.
Living green is more than saving polar bears, and the best thing you can do to live a greener life is to discover your passions. Most people would be able to identify two or three things in life they really care about. I care about nature, so I care about pollution and deforestation. Clean energy seems like a valid mission and a wonderful idea, but that's not my passion.
We tend to cast that all or nothing thing in the green world. If you're passionate about health let's figure out why organic foods might be a better option. Figure out what matters to you, and start there. If you never move beyond reading the site, that's fine. Far be it for me to pass someone on a trail and say, "Oh man, you're missing the good view." They could say, "You know what, this is all I want." I'm going to go on and see the view that I want, but that's not to say that he or she got less out of it than I did.
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