I tend to think that people who try their best to help the environment are well-intentioned people who usually aren’t really doing that much to help the environment. I’ve written before about people feeling so good about themselves in terms of helping the environment that they feel entitled to do things that hurt the environment more. The most helpful analogy I have is an obese person going for a 5 minute jog, then feeling so good that they went out and exercised that they eat a triple chocolate cake. One step forward, two steps back. I re-use bags when I go to the grocery store, so I feel entitled to take multiple trans-Atlantic flights every year to get an education I could easily obtain within a couple miles of my house.
Cracked.com has a list of 6 socially conscious things that only look like they help:
- Driving energy-efficient cars
- Eating local
- Purchasing reusable bags
- Using biofuels
- Volunteering overseas
- Rescuing oil-covered birds
The site has a pretty good description for each of why people do it and why, in the end, it doesn’t do all that much.
I won’t take any sort of moral high ground against people who make these efforts. I just think it’s necessary to point out the actual results of these actions, instead of just their intentions.