There’s no question that society is becoming more environmentally conscious all the time. These days it’s not just ‘tree huggers’ and ‘eco warriors’ who want to find a more sustainable way of living. Nowadays, being green in your purchase decisions, such as buying eco furnishings and eco materials for your eco home, is seen as the responsible thing to do.
So where did it all start? How did environmentalism start to influence the products we buy and the growth of eco design in how products are made?
Well, you can go as far back as the early 19th century to find the philosophical roots of the eco movement.
George Perkins Marsh is considered to be one of America’s first environmentalists. He openly challenged the contemporary view that land was there to be cultivated, and leaving it wild was wasteful. Marsh, however, believed that humanity was merely a participant in the Earth’s ecosystem, and natural environments had to be preserved to maintain a healthy status quo.
In Europe the eco movement started due to more practical reasons. The Industrial Revolution brought with it urbanisation, industrial waste and pollution. These undesirable side effects sparked fears of ecological crisis if man’s industrial excesses weren’t reined in.
The Silent Spring
Arguably the most influential book in the growth of the eco movement was Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson in 1962.
She wrote of her concerns on the widespread spraying of crops with DDT, an early type of pesticide. She was worried that DDT was being used on a massive scale without understanding what impact it would have on wildlife and the eco system. DDT was subsequently banned, but the roots of environmentalism had now already started to flower.
By the mid 1970s fears of ecological catastrophe, on both sides of the pond, were becoming interwoven with fears over Vietnam, nuclear power and the nuclear arms race.
The concerns about pesticides were followed by acid rain in the 80s, ozone depletion and deforestation in the 90s and onto present day fears of climate change and global warming.
The growth of eco design of products
The eco movement found a rallying cry in the form of Al Gore’s controversial documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (2007). The films box office success and exposure helped spread ecological awareness into the national conscience.
Now, the eco movement is feeding the popularity of eco designed, environmentally friendly products and eco materials, such as eco textiles and eco furnishings.
Whether or not you live in an environmentally designed eco home, everybody can be a part of the eco movement by choosing to buy eco products and putting pressure on every industry to be more environmentally friendly in how they operate.