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Pocketbooks are powerful in a consumer-driven society

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With all of the advances we’ve seen and continue to see in science and technology and the growing popularity of “going green” I’m amazed that the majority of America still drives petroleum-fueled vehicles and that we produce such an incredible amount of waste. Where are the garbage-eating enzymes, highly efficient, non-oil-burning engines, geo-thermal power plants?

Where are all of the world-saving technological/environmental advances my high school self was sure my generation would invent?

Call me cynical but I believe the reason these incredible advances haven’t become part of our day-to-day lives is twofold.

First, and foremost, someone in our capitalist society has to come up with a business plan to make these advances profitable. From a financial point of view, why would big car companies opt to change their multi-billion dollar industry? This is America. We are capitalists. If there’s money to be made, American businesses are at the ready.  Some would argue our economy is better described as “mixed” rather than capitalist. An example of this being that the government can, and has in the past, broken up concentrations of power that threaten competition (monopolies). However, the fact that large corporations can and do lobby congress tips the scales yet again in favor of the almighty dollar versus public good.

The sad reality is that large, private interests unfairly influence our country’s government. 

But back to my main argument, since oil is a finite resource, there will come a time when we’ll have to convert alternative fuels out of sheer necessity. Perhaps our car companies are waiting for the supply to dwindle before they do anything drastic … and expensive.

The second reason we don’t have these incredible technological advances - our consumer-driven society has yet to demand it. While it would be nice to drive more environmentally friendly autos, if it hurts our pocketbooks, we generally pass. And in these difficult economic times, who can blame us?

Americans, Montanans even more so, have an incredible work ethic. Many people I know work two, sometimes even three jobs to make ends meet. When “green” autos, etc. become affordable, we’ll be on board.

That said, it is important to realize the great power we have as consumers. Since the almighty dollar often speaks loudest, we should be conscious of where or perhaps I should say, with whom, we spend our money. Not all businesses are built the same. Some businesses subscribe to being stewards of the planet and employ environmentally healthy practices. Some don’t. We can use our pocketbooks to drive home our appreciation of environmentally friendly practices, even if we can’t yet afford to make use of all the new “green” technology.

I believe we’re on the brink of a “green” revolution. Or at least we could be, if we demanded it. 

I’m convinced there’s money to be made in renewable energy and that conservation is a concept most, if not all, Americans support. To ensure a brighter future for ourselves, our children and the world, it’s time for Americans to take the lead in “going green.”

Lets get the ball rolling with the other “green” ($)… by paying close attention to where we spend it. 

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