Ideologies of Nature in Popular Culture

After struggling to think of anything for a while, I decided to write about how popular culture portrays the ideology that being healthy is good for the environment. For example, biking and jogging are both extremely popular forms of exercise. Many modern media sources talk about how these activities and others like it are an environmentally-friendly alternative to driving. To me, it seems that this kind of narrative regarding health is consistent with how the majority of public action towards helping the environment is focused on mitigation. Most of the effort made by regular citizens to help the planet are in order to slow down the damage rather than reverse it. While biking and jogging help to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, they don’t actively help to restore the damage dealt.

There is also a popular narrative that organic or “green” foods are inherently healthier than processed or genetically-modified foods. Often times, people treat those words as synonymous to healthy. People focused on being healthy will often times value organic products over something that has been treated with pesticides and the like. Since these chemicals are more often than not harmful for the environment, it can be said that eating healthy (according to pop. Culture – organic foods, etc.) directly acts to improve the environment.

In many magazines or advertisements regarding fitness, the background often times shows some form of nature. For example, it may show a couple jogging at the park or a girl doing yoga in the middle of a grassy plain. Personally, I feel that in our society, many people don’t view exercise (particularly jogging) as meaningful if it isn’t done outside; jogging on a treadmill has much more of a stigma surrounding it than jogging around the neighborhood or on a field.

I feel that this kind of ideology, while it’s definitely good, is somewhat dangerous. In my opinion, people who subscribe to the belief that healthy = good for the environment are setting themselves up to be ignorant or lazy in terms of actually helping the environment. They may be unknowingly using a product labeled as “green” when in reality, it is actually detrimental for the planet. At the same time, these same people may believe that since they are already biking, jogging, and eating organic foods, they can be a bit more lenient in other facets of their lifestyle that may impact the environment. For example, they may think it’s okay for them to just toss their trash into the forest since they’re already doing their part by being healthy.

One Reply to “Ideologies of Nature in Popular Culture”

  1. I think youve identified a key aspect of American ideology regarding climate change: the solution is to be found in individual decisions on the part of consumers. A new culture of consumption, it is believed, is all we need.

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