In an interview with the Observer, Porritt said that the ‘ethical shopping’, such as buying green products or using the ‘Red’ credit card, would not be enough:
‘I think capitalism is patently unable to go on growing the size of the consumer economy for any more people in the world today because the levels of consumption are already undermining life support systems on which we depend,’ he told the paper.
‘We’ve got to rethink the basic premise behind capitalism to make it deliver the goods,’ he added.
Porritt’s attack’s on ‘ethical consumerism’ will anger many who believe that encouraging people to ‘buy green’ will lead to a reduction in their impact on the planet. But Porritt said that he was ‘nervous’ about implying that charities will benefit from increased credit card spending:
‘I think it clutters up the awareness we need to encourage in people now that there’s an awful lot of unnecessary consumption, conspicuous consumption, irresponsible consumption, and we’ve just got to get used to cracking down on that in our own lives and really thinking through the implications of all that,’ he said.
Tony Juniper, the director of Greenpeace, agreed with Porritt’s comments, saying that consumer culture is ‘out of step’ with the ability of the planet to provide for the population.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2007