When we started TasteTO last year, I subscribed to a bunch of Canadian women’s magazines because I thought they might be useful references for stories. They haven’t been especially, as they’re not Toronto-specific enough, and they also run to seriously mainstream tastes and trends – generally enough that I find something about every issue that annoys and frustrates me.
The most recent issue of Canadian Living is billed on the cover as their “Go Green Issue” with a whole lot of lip-service paid to the recent trend of eco-activism without any real commitment required on the part of the reader/consumer *or* the magazine. There’s your typical spread of eco-friendly shopping bags, tips on eco-friendly laundering, and generally a whole lot of articles on how we can all be good little consumers yet still save the earth. (ie. Don’t stop buying *stuff* just buy environmentally-friendly stuff!) I saw no mention of important actions like hey – get out of your fucking car! Or – stop taking the annual family trip to Disneyworld! Just a lot of suggestions of how to renovate your house with beach stone tiles or stuff that *looks* like it’s from nature (ie, plastic photo frame that looks like logs).
The advertising, of course, in no way reflected this new exciting green commitment. There were the same old ads for drugstore brand cosmetics (mostly tested on animals), junk food in the hot new 100 calorie-sized packaging (more garbage generated from wrapping 10 potato chips than 100 in a big bag), dubious food items laden with health claims (all designed to prey on the reader’s low self-esteem), and the usual assortment of crap from the big multi-nationals.
The real kicker, however, was the fact that the one (watered-down) article on organic food was positioned in a page spread across from Canadian Living’s 2008 Best New Products feature. 35 products, as selected by CL readers, appeared next to an interview with Dr. Laura Telford of the Organic Growers Association about keeping excess chemicals out of our food.
Febreze – petroleum based, refuses to make a non-scented version of their products for the chemically-sensitive
Pilsbury Pie Crusts – mmmm… transfats
Becel Margarine – more trans-fats
Dove antiperspirant – uses a marketing scheme supposedly designed to make women feel good about their bodies, but owned by a parent company that also owns SlimFast and a skin-bleaching product marketed in India
ZipLoc ZipnSteam – for people who want to eat their veggies but are too lazy to wash a pot, and don’t care that they’re tossing out plastic bags to do so
Kraft (Organic!!) salad dressing – still owned by a cigarette company
Okay, so not all of these are food items that fall into the organic/conventional debate, but they’re all products that are either completely unnecessary, bad for the environment, bad for human health, or manipulate the consumer in some way. Which, yes, is what mainstream magazines are all about – they’re really a vehicle for advertisers where content is secondary. But the hypocrisy of pretending to be green just really burns my ass. Especially when the mainstream media of the genre obviously has so much influence on what people buy.
The real world disappoints me at every turn, and it’s really frustrating to hear the news media tell us that we’re destroying our earth and our selves, yet have media outlets like women’s magazines continue on in a corporately-funded oblivion, pushing products that are complete garbage.