Greening Las Vegas?


The most popular of the Six Sins of Greenwashing has to be that of the Lesser of Two Evils. Surely if there is anywhere that needs greening up, it’s Las Vegas, capital of vulgar excess. But when it’s already eco-hostile on such a scale, what difference will it make?

It almost seems uncharitable to cite statistics, since they paint such a bleak picture. Las Vegas is a city in the middle of a desert – yet uses over half of its water supply to water lawns and golf courses, while it’s calculated that 60,000 pounds of shrimp are served up in its restaurants every day (more than in the rest of America, combined). In a desert. Unsurprisingly, the whole region is experiencing drought which looks to intensify – in short, the city is a hydrological time bomb. And that just covers the water supply. Let’s not even get into the sheer volume of, ahem, flyers.

Any attempt to publicize eco-friendly development in Las Vegas is like an illegal Amazonian logging operation insisting they use fairtrade coffee on their breaks. Then again, perhaps that isn’t fair. Does a developer have to carry the can for his or her municipality, or city, or state? It’s the $7.5 billion City Center complex that has sparked all the furor, and as Michael May notes for Weekend America, it’s currently doing its best to attract those accustomed to – and expecting – affluence and excess. And that suggests that under a lavishly greenwashed surface, it’s business as usual.

Image: jena ardell

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.