Harrison has issues with the idea of “green consumerism” as he argues that it’s environmental and social consequences may be complicated than expected. He argues that there may be conflicts between values and meanings other people hold for a place and the benefits and purposes ascribed to that particular place. He also believes that ‘responsible’ shopping may turn out to have implications for areas whose connections to the products they opt to buy are insignificant. On top of all these issues, Harrison also has problems with the fact that the parties that control the surplus value generated from ‘green consumerism’ may choose to invest the funds into different causes or political agendas unrelated to the particular green commodity or commodities that have been sold to consumers for higher prices.
Burt’s bee is a perfect brand example that can explain Harrison’s issues with the idea of ‘green consumerism.’ Burt’s Bees is a well renowned multi-billion company that produces and sells earth-friendly natural personal care products. Unlike in Northern Maine, Burt’s Bees products are easily found in almost all shops in the United States. This unlikely scenario is because of the opposition the residents of Northern Maine had on Roxanne Quimby’s, the then sole owner of Burt’s Bees, decision to acquire tens of thousands of acres of land using the profits generated by Burt’s Bees and donate for the establishment of the Maine Woods National Park. The residents of Northern Maine spent a lot of money to purchase Burt’s Bees’ earth-friendly products to promote ‘green consumerism’ to experience positive consequences. To their disappointment, the surplus-value of Burt’s Bees was put into a political agenda other than reinvested in the immediate community chain. The residents felt that by Roxanne purchasing these vast acres of land, would limit public use and the feeble economy of Northern Maine will be dealt a significant blow since they depended on logging and camp leases for snowmobiling and hunting, events that have been in the town’s traditions for a generation. Even though residents of Northern Maine spend a lot of money on Burt’s Bees’ earth-friendly product, they had no control over how the profits the company made would have negative social and environmental consequences on their lives.
If I were, Roxanne Quimby, having read Harrison’s article, I would still stand with my support for the MWNP to conserve Maine Woods. Even though Roxanne Quimby controls the influence on land use in Maine through the huge profits Burt’s Bees made through countless consumers who purchased the company’s earth-friendly, her course to conserve the environment and protect Marine Woods. There are environmental and social consequences that come with consumer choices, but they have no control over it. If I were Roxanne Quincy, I would try to seek more funds to help the residents of Northern Maine venture into other environment-friendly businesses that would enable them to earn a living as they conserve the environment.
Harrison, B. (2006). “Shopping to save: green consumerism and the struggle for northern
Maine.” In Cultural Geographies, 13, 395-420