Anyone who has ever read a book on viridian design or has lived in a commune can be an eco-consultant, it’s easy. For that matter, anyone who has environmental common sense can be an eco-consultant. The business of eco-consulting is purely common sensical, even economical, but some people feel they need a professional tell them what their options are.

You’d think there really should be a market niche for “anti-civ eco-consulting,” given the interest in eco-consultation these days. How come the ELF has not thought of this before? Why hasn’t the less radical Earth First! organization thought of this before? If you need a way to make easy money, offer your critique of civilization in the form of eco-consultation. Have middle-class families hire you to tell them how fucked up their lifestyles are. Rip out their sprinkler systems and take their cars to a chop shop. Traveling ELFtivists typically need better ways to make a living than dumpstering food, (living off the grid while living on the grid.)

I suppose anti-civ eco-consulting would essentially mean re-inventing radical zine culture in the process, which is nothing new. The practice would be nothing new either. But it could be taken more seriously, and people could write classified ads.

Part of anti-civ eco-consulting could be dissecting the kind of eco-consulting for the civilized. What got me thinking about this was a NYTimes article called “Make Me Greener, Please” which I found in the style section. The kinds of things the professional eco-consultant in the article recommends to middle-to-upper class families are so basic, I don’t understand how people could not know them already. Shit, most everyone I know could be an eco-consultant.

Eco-consultants, like Jason Pelletier, left, are selling advice to worried consumers on energy efficiency, indoor air quality and even methods for creating an eco-conscious wardrobe. Here, he meets with Alina Sanchez and George Bryson, from Los Angeles, who hired him to discuss reducing their carbon footprint.

"Eco-consultants, like Jason Pelletier, left, are selling advice to worried consumers on energy efficiency, indoor air quality and even methods for creating an eco-conscious wardrobe. Here, he meets with Alina Sanchez and George Bryson, from Los Angeles, who hired him to discuss reducing their carbon footprint." - NYTIMES

“Eco-conscious wardrobe.”

You risk sounding pretentious by saying this, but consulting itself is based on pretense to start with. Why not preface everything you say with, “If you were really an environmentalist…” For example, if you were an environmentalist you would not replace old clothes with new clothes, just becase they’re green. That is a net increase in consumption. Don’t buy more shit! Use the shit you have!

Eco-consulting is also a way produce ideas you can apply in your own life. Start thinking like a consultant, and you can be your own consultant. A good idea I would like to see happen more on my block, for example, would be to start a sewing mahine co-op with our neighbors, where everyone can share fabrics and the machine too. This is just as much economics as it is an anarchist practice. Maybe someone else has a lot of shop tools. Someone else has a washer and dryer. Everyone could share the tools that collectively everyone owns in their separate households, etc.

Mr. Pelletier visited their three-bedroom home to create a customized plan for the family of four. Among other things, he suggested selling their two cars, a Saab and a Volvo, and buy hybrids instead. Ms. Bryson and Ms. Sanchez declined, saying they were holding out for electric cars someday.

"Mr. Pelletier visited their three-bedroom home to create a customized plan for the family of four. Among other things, he suggested selling their two cars, a Saab and a Volvo, and buy hybrids instead. Ms. Bryson and Ms. Sanchez declined, saying they were holding out for electric cars someday." - NYTIMES

Or, you know, the family could just ride bikes and take public transit. But at the very least, why do they need two hybrids?

A professor of economics at the university I used to attend rode a bus everyday to work for 40 miles, from Seattle to Tacoma. What is stopping this professor of physics in L.A. from doing the same? Understandably, maybe this family’s daily activities are much different, or involve heavy commuting, but why should the eco-consultant give them shoddy advice – why not push them further than they are comfortable with? If the eco-consultant is not challenging the family will not think hard enough and will settle for less.

Part of consulting is recognizing how curious your clients are, and how far they are willing to take their interests. If they really want to live off the grid, they could squat in the woods, and this would require a whole new set of skills and practices. But I am also assuming that people are going to live inside houses, and not take to the nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer-forager.

Three years ago, when Mr. Pelletier started out in his field, his clients were looking to keep up with their Prius-driving neighbors. But now, he said, his clients are looking to save money on their energy bills. At left, he checks the efficiency of the dishwasher in Mr. Brysons and Ms. Sanchezs kitchen.

"Three years ago, when Mr. Pelletier started out in his field, his clients were looking to keep up with their Prius-driving neighbors. But now, he said, his clients are looking to save money on their energy bills. At left, he checks the efficiency of the dishwasher in Mr. Bryson's and Ms. Sanchez's kitchen." - NYTIMES

Dining without crumbs – the art of eating over the sink?

Mr. Pelletier suggested switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and later followed up with a detailed report that compared the couples consumption to the average for their region. About a third of the countrys carbon dioxide emissions come from generating electricity.

"Mr. Pelletier suggested switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and later followed up with a detailed report that compared the couple's consumption to the average for their region. About a third of the country's carbon dioxide emissions come from generating electricity." - NYTIMES

Compact flourescent are better, sure. Did they have to hire a consultant to tell them that?

Why doesn’t the NY Times run an article showing handyman-types how to refit pipes, how to seal broken pipes and ducts, and how to wrap leaks. This is really the most cost-effective way to save energy in a typical house. Heating is the number 1 use of energy in most North American houses. Most houses have the equivalent of a window open all the time due to leaks in the infrastructure of the home.

The debate over whether individual actions matter at all continues, but that is not to say theres no environmental benefit to be had from reducing energy and water consumption. One economist said it is important that the United States serves as an example to developing countries. At left, Mr. Pelletier checks out the water levels in the couples toilet.

"The debate over whether individual actions matter at all continues, but that is not to say there's no environmental benefit to be had from reducing energy and water consumption. One economist said it is important that the United States serves as an example to developing countries. At left, Mr. Pelletier checks out the water levels in the couple's toilet." - NYTIMES

Here is something that could fit with the family’s lifestyle: stop flushing the toilet.

Here’s how:

Remove the slip joint pipe from the sink, and place a bucket under the open piping. Let the water from the sink fill the bucket up. Then pour this water down the toilet when it’s full. The weight from the water will flush flush the toilet automatically. You can go further and setup a greywater system.

Or pee outside, really. If that’s too uncivilized, perhaps that is because no one who is trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” actually has a critique of civilization to begin with. Their motivation for “going green” is rooted in the desire to be just as civilized as those who live near them and consume similar things as they do.

David J. C. MacKay, a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, said small consumer gestures are like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon. His own suggestions: turning down the thermostat in the winter, flying less and buying less. Mr. Pelletier examined the couples washer and dryer for energy efficiency.

"David J. C. MacKay, a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, said small consumer gestures are "like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon." His own suggestions: turning down the thermostat in the winter, flying less and buying less. Mr. Pelletier examined the couple's washer and dryer for energy efficiency." - NYTIMES

This is like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon!

Every gallon of gas you buy could help save habitat in the Mid-West, says Chevron. Buying a new car is okay because it’s green. Industrial paint is green. Motherboards are green. Flat-screen TVs are green. Every product is “green” now because there is no benefit to marketing products as “non-green”. “Green” can only mean good things to eco-conscious consumers, and it means nothing to those who aren’t. “Greenwashing” is simply a business strategy, a competitive strategy, to capture a new and growing “eco-conscious” consumer market. Capitalism is an engine of recuperation.

Mr. Pelletier looks at the couples irrigation controller in their garage, which they had considered insulating to use as an office and music studio. He also suggested insulating the attic to save on heating and cooling costs.

"Mr. Pelletier looks at the couple's irrigation controller in their garage, which they had considered insulating to use as an office and music studio. He also suggested insulating the attic to save on heating and cooling costs." - NYTIMES

If you’re going to live in a house, lower the heat, increase the insulation.

But alternatively, some houses can be built to self-heat. They do this by building the walls out of recycled tires, aluminum cans, and coating them with adobe. The side of the house facing the sun is made into a greenhouse. The tires keep the house cool in the summer by absorbing the heat, and warm in the winter by putting off heat. The greenhouse allows the home to grow food inside their home on top of this.

You can find more about these on Earthship.org.

Although their energy use was acceptable, Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Bryson failed Mr. Pelletiers test on water consumption. He pinpointed their sprinkler system as the culprit and advised them to cut their use by 30 to 40 percent.

"Although their energy use was acceptable, Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Bryson failed Mr. Pelletier's test on water consumption. He pinpointed their sprinkler system as the culprit and advised them to cut their use by 30 to 40 percent." - NYTIMES

This is by far the worst sin.

Why water a yard? Why mow it each week?

Anyone who does this, fuck them.

Ms. Sanchez studies the analysis of her home prepared by Mr. Pelletier. After reviewing it, she and Mr. Bryson decided to reprogram their sprinklers to reduce water use and are considering installing a solar water heater and carpooling.

Ms. Sanchez studies the analysis of her home prepared by Mr. Pelletier. After reviewing it, she and Mr. Bryson decided to reprogram their sprinklers to reduce water use and are considering installing a solar water heater and carpooling. - NYTIMES

A better method for eco-consultants would be to teach “consumer-environmentalists” how to see through the corporate business strategies, how to think logically about why they are being manipulated by marketing, teach them how to smash capitalism, and how to understand alternative systems to it such as mutual aid and DIY.