Bookworm: Slow Life An Exercise in Greenwashing

Over the summer, Miss Angela and her sidekick Dustin gave us a copy of Slow Life: Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences. Perfect as a large-format coffee table book, and full of useful tips and interesting profiles on slow living travel destinations, I still found it distracting that the whole package seemed more like an advertisement for the Six Senses spa/retreat company then a collection of ideas. Not that I mind gazing at gorgeous photos of tropical getaways (especially during winter in the North Country – brrrr), but for all its supposed good intentions, Slow Life, had a slight air of greenwashing about it, if only because of the misleading title. The book should have been named Six Senses Resorts: An Experience of Sustainable, Local. Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun Slow Living. In the spirit of transparency, that would have cleared up where the publishing money was coming from.

While I do see that the Six Senses company features a lofty sustainability policy on their website, I’d rather see real-life statistics and case studies of the success they’ve had implementing these standards. Talk is cheap and easy. A company can go on and on about how they want to help the community, and even win awards for their great ideas, but if nothing actually happens, then it just seems like an exercise in self-promotion. Prominent public intention is great, but the results need to be made as highly public as well.

I’m not even going to go into the act of destroying native habitats so rich people can enjoy a “rustic experience” – But just because you’ve built resorts that follow green practices, it doesn’t mean you are now the epitome of “slow life.” If a resort-based company was really interested in the slow lifestyle, they would be opening locations that aren’t a fuel-costly plane ride away for the majority of the world.  They also wouldn’t be spending so much money on making sure the world knew how “slow” they were – their actions would speak for themselves. When someone picks up a book on the slow living lifestyle, they are probably more interested in the movement as a whole, not in one company’s self-serving take on it. The less major corporations act like we as consumers are so stupid as to jump at every mention of green/slow/sustainable/organic/environmentally friendly/world saving, the faster an actual green movement will be able to occur.

Book cover from Better World Books

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