Environmental Hypocrisy: Are We Doomed?

Image courtesy of Dr. Stclaire

Hypocrisy 101

In a local paper, the Willamette Week, I first came across the idea of environmental hypocrisy back in 2019 in one of their columns by Mr. Know - See the full article here.

The article is short but puts forth some observations that require thoughtful consideration and meaningful action, in the article a reader asks Mr. Know:

"The Port of Portland is expanding PDX's flight capacity with nary a whisper about the pollution those extra flights will generate. Shouldn't we worry less about bike lanes and more about willy-nilly jetting around the globe?"

Mr. Know responds by saying that the reader has indeed identified why we are "all doomed."

Environmental hypocrisy: "People will follow their environmental conscience unless it requires giving up something they really want."    ~Mr. Know 2019

Suppose I offer you a round trip two-week vacation to a faraway exotic location, and you know that the plane trip will dump excessive emissions into the environment thus contributing to climate change. Would you turn down my offer? It's highly probable you wouldn't, and if I'm being honest, I'm not sure I would either.

Image courtesy of Lutz Dieckmann

It's just not flying; there are hundreds of convenient and less costly choices but more pollutive than their 'green' alternatives.

Ok, let's take a step back for a second

I want to clarify that I'm not trying to pin blame; as I have said, we all suffer from this malady; I know I do. I do want to look at how we can hold governments and corporations accountable for their hypocrisies.

In this post, I will offer you some strategies that will hopefully inspire you to live more sustainably and be motivated to make real change.

What Exactly Do I Mean by Environmental Hypocrisy? 

Let's break it down dictionary style:

Environmental: Relating to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition (climate change).

Hypocrisy: The practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.

So, that was the easy part, but this gets complicated pretty fast beyond that.

Image courtesy Pixabay public domain

Feeling Trapped?

The basic scenario goes something like this; I'm concerned about climate change, and I want to live a sustainable life. I do everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint, but I live in a world that, at every turn, makes it almost impossible to do so.

However, habits become ingrained and can be extremely hard to change. Many times, we want what we want, and damn the consequences.

Transportation, food, electronics, and about every other product you can think of has some element of its manufacturing, distribution, and sale that damages the planet in some way. It can be maddingly frustrating and leave one feeling it's a difficult if not impossible task.

Let's be clear; it's difficult because corporate and governmental entities want it to be difficult and want you to keep consuming the same way you always have.

Corporate & Governmental Environmental Hypocrisy 

Corporatocracy is a Greek term meaning an economic, political, and judicial system controlled by corporations or corporate interests.

I like the word, and it fits, in part, the narrative of this article, so I will use the term Corporatocracy to refer to the collaboration of corporations and the government.

We all can recognize that corporatocracies use selective market research to undermine global efforts to prevent climate change through lobbying and propaganda.

It has been suggested that one possible solution is for the UN to establish a scientific committee that evaluates environmental claims to determine if they are legitimate and contributing to climate change.

Really? How exactly would the UN enforce its findings? We all know that multinational corporations have such deep pockets they can spin reality to fit their agenda.

Environmental offenders have been identified long ago, and big biz keeps doing what they do, empowered by their customers because they keep getting away with it.

We all should have concerns about this, and it's time for everyone to say no to environmentally unfriendly products and services, especially giant corporations.

Corporatocracies obstruct action on climate change in two different ways:

  • Institutional cynicism is a method that generates and justifies the cynicism involving actions made around climate change by institutional organizations.
  • Lifestyle cynicism: This method sparks individual lifestyle protests by emphasizing the personal sacrifice the average citizen will experience in response to climate change policy.

The Love of Division

Corporations and the government love division. With each division comes opportunity. The revered Chinese military figure Sun Tzu said, "In the Midst of Chaos, There Is Also Opportunity." This quote applies to our culture because we are divided in thousands of ways that we may not be that aware of, not just climate change.

Image courtesy of John Hain

Suppose we think broader than the usual generational, political, and religious differences that fill the news, we can see how division is profitable. We are divided by what music we listen to, the sports teams we like, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the neighborhoods we live in, the corporations or companies we work for, the drugs we do, the pets we own, the food we eat, the list is endless.

Some divisions are much less damaging than others. It harms no one, and no one cares if I'm into rare polka tunes and you love speed metal. We may not be attending concerts together, but there is reason to hope we could peacefully live side-by-side.

On the other hand, if you and I viscerally disagree that climate change is real, then our agendas will most likely differ significantly. However, I have read, seen, and have heard people say that they believe in climate change but disagree with the science that points to humans as the cause. That's a far better starting point for agreement than diametrically opposed positions.

Forget About Climate Change – For a Second

If I feel like I am having a conversation with someone open to the fact that the environment is in trouble, no matter the cause, I try and find common ground to extend the conversation.

I usually focus on pollution in general in such a conversation, not climate change. It's generally easier to get people to agree that our air, water, and land are being poisoned. If that's as far as I can get, then fair enough. At least I know that there are people out there that at least see pollution as a problem.

Regardless of the source, something is up. Where I live just experienced the hottest recorded summer ever with a high of 115 ℉ followed by a winter warm and dry enough for roses to bloom in my garden.

You may have even heard people say that we are living through a "climate phase," just like the phase that the dinosaurs went through. Well, that "phase" didn't work out so well for the dinosaurs, so I'd like to avoid experiencing any such phase.

I love to use this quote when discussing climate change; "Climate is what you expect, the weather is what you get." ~ Robert Heinlein

Action – If Not Now, When?

Alrighty, I have flung mud at the Corporatocracy, but so what? Do my words mean or do anything if you and I don't act on the knowledge we have of how these organizations operate? No, my words don't mean squat without action.

How do we motivate ourselves and each other to fight climate change without being hypocrites? The bad news is we can't, and we must wear the badge of hypocrite and keep striving to live as sustainably as possible. We'll never arrive; it's a journey of experimentation, growth, and understanding that true joy comes from the fruits of our efforts.

Just Wear the Damn Badge

For example, I cut my carbon footprint down considerably when I accepted the challenge of not driving my car for a year. The challenge ended up being a lifestyle choice, and I still don't drive much but do occasionally use my car for errands like a trip to the hardware store.

However, it undoubtedly must seem hypocritical to those people who know I stopped driving but now do so again, no matter how little it is. But, after years of practice, I'm pretty good at not caring what others think of me bother me, so I have just learned to wear the damn badge.

You can't please everyone, and someone will always find fault with how you live your life. So, push on and keep making better sustainable decisions and remember that it's the impact of your entire journey that matters, not just one event along the timeline.

Image courtesy of Ryan Bahm


People have all the excuses in the world of why they haven't yet adopted more sustainable living practices into their lives. They don't have time, lack the knowledge of what to do, they think it's costly, they have brand loyalty to particular products/services, and on goes the list.

The American entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn once said, "If you don't like where you are, move! You are not a tree!" We do not have to accept anything the way it is; we can create anything we can imagine.

I'm not trying to convince you that it's easy to make changes to the tried-and-true conveniences we all enjoy, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle by any means.

Speaking of obstacles, another author I want to mention is Ryan Holiday and his wildly popular book The Obstacle is The Way. In his book, Holiday does a modern take on Marcus Aurelius's (Roman emperor 161–180) writings titled Meditations. Aurelius was a practitioner of the philosophy known as Stoicism, and Mediations was his day-end reflection on how well he lived his life following the tenets of stoicism.

Ryan Holiday

Marcus Aurelius

I don't want to go too deep into stoicism, but an essential principle of philosophy recognizes the obstacle is the way. Marcus Aurelius wrote:  "Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

My interpretation of this concept is that the obstacle we perceive keeping us from reaching our desired outcome can help us achieve said goal.

How Can the Problem be the Solution?

Well, it depends on the obstacle, internal vs. external.

What if an obstacle causes your efforts to fail miserably? You can choose to use the opportunity to reassess your efforts and find another way forward that you may have not previously considered.

What if failing miserably isn't because of some external challenge but instead comes from within? Perhaps your internal dialog is filled with hate, fear, or ego, and the process of life body slamming you to the mat awakens some internal reflection of your character.

The world is a tough place, and personally, life has knocked me down many times, not because I lacked the ambition but because I had the wrong attitude or lacked the skills necessary to reach my goal. Getting the proverbial body slam led me to re-evaluate and adjust. Of course, this philosophy doesn't work if you're not willing to recognize that what stands in the way can become the way.

Applying it to Living Sustainably

Hopefully, from my brief description of using the obstacle as the way, you can see how to apply it in living more sustainably and fighting climate change.

External Obstacles

Externally, the obstacles are many but so are the options. If you understand that water is a limited resource and will likely cause great global unrest, why wait for the well to run dry? If we all took action to reclaim our grey water, collect rainwater and install water-saving devices, could we avert the inevitable coming turmoil? How will we know if we don't try?

Internal Obstacles

In my opinion, internal obstacles are more challenging to deal with than external ones. For instance, you may recognize that a significant way to reduce your carbon footprint is to drive less or not at all. However, from personal experience, I can attest that it's far easier to be in love with the idea of driving less than it is to convince yourself to walk up to the store when it's wet and cold out.

There is no easy way around the internal obstacles because it requires us first to make a new emotional connection to the change we want, which influences our thoughts that then inspires us to make changes in our behavior. We all know how hard it can be to convince ourselves to make a change like adopting a new workout routine, eating more greens, or being on time.

Get Emotional

My advice is to take the time to emotionally think through the change you want to make.

When I began going carless, it was easier at first, but it wasn't always so much fun within a month or so. So to stay motivated, I wrote out an entire page of the reasons I wanted to go carless. I made my reasons as emotionally charged as possible to trigger thoughts that elicited actions which made it easier to head out the door.

Image courtesy of Joe Caione

   Connect with all of Your Emotions

  Feel Your Emotions Viscerally

Using this technique works for me but use whatever method gets you viscerally excited about making change. There are so many healthy and sustainable choices available that it should be relatively easy to identify new changes to make.

Making it Happen

Let's focus on what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, fight climate change and minimize our environmental hypocrisy.

We have so many distractions; money, power, fame, pleasure that keep us "busy" and exhausted. However, when we start stripping back all the noise, it gives room to see what's important. The more sustainable we live, the healthier we become, the less money we waste, and the more time we have for meaningful pursuits.

Sustainable vs. non-sustainable Manufactures 

There are many green products and services to choose from, but they tend to be from smaller brands without the same reach as the more prominent brands. However, the power of the direct-to-consumer market is helping high-quality, environmentally responsible brands grow in popularity.

It's not that the more prominent brands don't have green options, but most still offer the less sustainable options and cancel out their "green" efforts. It's no longer an option to support the more prominent brands if they still provide non-sustainable products. We can most certainly change how bigger companies do business or let them suffer the consequences by voting with our dollars. The time for wishing and hoping that big corporations will do the right thing is over.

I have grown tired of wondering:

  • Are the big brands' green products as good as the smaller brands?
  • Is the manufacturer sincere, or are they riding the green wave and exploiting the opportunity?
  • Are their manufacturing processes and packaging sustainable?

To address these concerns in my own life, I continually seek out products from known sustainable manufacturers and merchants. I do this for a couple of reasons: to provide honest reviews for the readers of this blog and secondly, because I sincerely love using high-quality green products.

The common thread that I find running sustainable products is that they are of high quality. The manufacturers, in most cases, operate from a set of ethical guiding principles to source, manufacture, package, and distribute their products. You can check out the ethos behind a few of the proprietors I like here:

There are Alternatives


I love the convenience of a subscription service that delivers zero waste products like soaps, detergents, cleaning materials, and other consumables right to my doorstep. It is easier now than at any other time in history to get your hands on earth-friendly consumables effectively and efficiently.

New & Used Clothing

There is a huge problem with used clothing all over the world, and it's getting worse. Today, there are 52 what they call fast fashion micro-seasons in the fashion world. These micro-seasons result in new 'collections' being released weekly by design houses backed by advertising campaigns to persuade you to buy, buy and buy some more.

The clothing is mass-produced and is becoming thinner, cheaper, and lower quality. The manufacturers are counting on you to either throw them out or give them to a thrift shop.

Image courtesy of Artem Beliakin

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American gets rid of 81 pounds of textiles a year. It sends approximately 11.2 million tons to landfills, including clothing, linen, and footwear.

What Happens to Used Clothing?

After donated clothing gets sorted for resale, what happens to the rejected clothing?

Typically, wearable clothing not approved for resale in the U.S. is pressed into bails and shipped into a prosperous global secondhand economy.

However, even though this global trade keeps some used clothing from landfills, it's not a sustainable solution. For example, the East African Community (EAC) is attempting to get a ban placed on importing used clothing into their countries to mitigate a decline in their textile economies. However, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. exporters are fighting the ban; sighting the ban is a violation of free trade.

It is highly likely bans will eventually be put into place, just like China's 2018 ban on importing U.S. recyclable garbage, which is now piling up in our landfills. The U.S. should not be fighting to force other countries to take our rejected textiles but instead looking for sustainable solutions to the problem.

Check out my post on upcycled clothing alternatives: Upcycle Old Clothing: 10 Inspiring Ideas


Most of us, including me, love getting a new device, but what happens to our old electronics when we no longer need or want them.

E-waste makes up more than 5% of all municipal solid waste, and they release lead, mercury, and cadmium into our soil and groundwater. Often the e-waste is incinerated, which discharges toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

It's not just cell phones and laptops getting tossed; e-waste includes monitors, televisions, CD/DVD/Blue-ray players, stereos, and printers are the most common items thrown out. Also, microwaves, refrigerators, AC units, lamps, video-game consoles, power tools, and many other things get tossed as well.

The shame is that many of these items are repairable. However, if they are beyond repair, they contain valuable materials like gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium, iron, and aluminum that could be recycled.

Currently, only 25% of U.S. and 20% of international e-waste gets recycled. However, the EPA has stated that recycling one million cell phones would recover approximately 33 lbs. of palladium, 75 lbs. of gold, 772 lbs. of silver, and 35,000 lbs of copper.

Don't know where to recycle your old electronics? Here is a link to the EPA Electronics Donation and Recycling page to help you find a location near you.

Also, if you want to learn more about e-waste, check out this post on how to dispose of your e-waste: What is E-waste, and Why is It a Problem?


Unless you reside in a cave and live off insects, you know plastic (fossil fuel) packing is the bane of our existence. It is everywhere. Not only is it spread across our cities and suburbs, but it has also found its way into our farmlands, forests, and oceans.

Packaging waste makes up approximately 30% of U.S. waste annually. Although according to the EPA, 35 million tons of plastic waste gets generated each year, only 9% of it is recycled.

Image courtesy of Antoine GIRET

Remember China's ban on importing U.S. recyclable waste? That waste is piling in landfills or incinerated because America's woefully insufficient recycling infrastructure cannot handle the massive volume.

There are options:

• Co-ops and zero-waste grocery stores eliminate fossil fuel packaging requiring customers to provide their own bags and containers.

• Renewable biomass polymers & Biodegradable packaging

Although these are promising developments, they are far from common and have a long way to go before they are widely accepted to make a meaningful impact.

The best way to fight the onslaught of waste is to not buy products with this kind of packaging in the first place.

Check out this post to learn more about zero waste packaging: 8 Top Zero Waste Laundry Detergents


I used to pick on plane travel for having a significant impact on climate change being pollutive, but the truth is all forms of travel come with a cost to the environment. So here are a few things for you to think about when choosing different forms of transportation.


Although trains produce less pollution than other forms of transportation, they emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter.

Trains pollute the least of the bunch, but they don't have very many routes overseas.


Autos produce more than half of the Carbon dioxide (CO₂) and Nitrogen oxides (NOₓ) and approximately a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air.

Even though electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more prevalent, it will take many years to replace fossil fuels entirely. However, I must note that EVs are the most earth-friendly when charged from renewable resources like solar. On the other hand, charging your EV from energy created from coal-burning power plants cancels your good intentions.


Planes emit several pollutants, including solid and liquid aerosol, particulates (sulfate and soot), condensable gases (water vapor, sulfuric acid), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide, contrails, and cirrus clouds.

Even though planes represent less than 3% of the planet's Carbon dioxide emissions compared to autos which account for approximately 10% of the emissions, they remain one of the most polluting means of transport.

Planes pollute less than they used to, but more people fly than ever before.


Cruise ships dump several waste streams, including sewage, gray water, hazardous wastes, oily bilge water, ballast water, and solid waste. Additionally, they emit air pollution from their diesel engines, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons. As a result, the EPA has classified diesel exhaust as a likely human carcinogen.

In one day, one large cruise ship emits over 5 tons of NOX emissions and almost 1,000 pounds of ultrafine particulate matter. A ship emits the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 3.6 million autos, to give you a comparison.

Cruise ships are double offenders polluting both the ocean and the air.

The simple truth is that no matter how you travel it can be tricky to do so sustainably. If you listen to permaculturists and people like us we will tell you to stay local and forego traveling much. This is not what most people want to hear but nonetheless is a direct solution.

However, I don't want to throw a wet blanket on traveling. When you do travel, plan well and definitely take advantage of the plethora  of eco-friendly options available.

Better Living Through Better Choices

My intention for this article is to be about positive, actionable steps we can all take to fight climate change and make a difference. The old argument is that change must come from the top for anything significant to occur. Maybe I'm being naïve, but I believe change mandated by leaders is only half the equation. Individually, we can make a massive change if we build on our success, but we must be willing to turn our backs on those corporations that have practices unfriendly to the earth.

A while back, I wrote the post, What is Your One Thing, which says that we can't allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with all the challenges in trying to live a more sustainable life but instead do one thing and build from there.

                                                         What's Your One Thing?

Little Wins

You, for example, could commit to riding your bike to the gym instead of driving. Once you have created a habit of riding your bike to the gym, you could set a 2nd goal of riding it to the grocery store until you ride your bike as your primary form of transportation vs. driving your car.


If you need new furniture, try DIY upcycling an old piece or purchasing a finished piece from a professional upcycler. You'll likely find the quality is so good that'll you want to add more upcycled pieces to your collection. So commit to upcycling your old furniture one piece at a time until you have a bespoke collection that reflects the uniqueness of who you are.

Used Quality

The next time you go clothes shopping, try buying at least one piece from a consignment or thrift shop and work your way from there to replacing your entire wardrobe. If you have never shopped at a consignment or thrift shop, you may be surprised at the quality and selection you find.

Grow It

Commit to growing a small garden of just one crop and getting good at producing a big harvest. Then the following year, expand it to a few more plants until you have a thriving garden that not only feeds you and your family but one that you can share the excess with others. Start a garden; it's addictive. If you are looking for help with starting a garden check out these posts for a little inspiration:

Pack It In

Identify one product you buy that has terrible packaging and find an alternative. Once that has become an ingrained habit, commit to identifying another product to do the same.

The examples of alternatives are countless.

Don't Get Overwhelmed

Although climate change hypocrisy is real, don't overwhelm yourself, or you'll likely take no action at all. You can solve climate change all by yourself, take on one thing at a time and build from there. And you must recognize that you are making a difference with your efforts.

The Green Warrior Challenge 

It can be hard to figure out where to start and what to do next, so I created the Green Warrior Challenge. I made it for my personal use because I know I'll do a much better job living a sustainable life if I have inspiration right at my fingertips.

The Green Warrior Challenge is simply a way to help track progress and be a reference guide that will inspire you to examine all areas of your life that could be more sustainable.

It is an organic document that will continue to morph as I discover better techniques, products, and resources.

Take the Challenge

When you visit our site, take the Green Warrior Challenge to establish where you stand on your sustainability journey. It will inspire you with actionable line items that you can take that will increase the quality of your life and contribute to our collectively saving the planet.

Join us

Join us in our quest at blendedtribes.com to save the planet one kilowatt, one therm, one action (aka a 'Better Choice') at a time. You will be joining a group of like-minded individuals with a common goal and a common purpose.

Disclosure: To maintain complete transparency please bear in mind that some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links and if you purchase through them we may earn a small commission. We link to these products because they are of high-quality from trustworthy vendors who care about delivering an awesome customer experience. If you choose not to support Blended Tribes that's okay we still love you and encourage you to find the product elsewhere and purchase it. 

~ Better Living Through Better Choices.