The new USDA food pyramid has arrived. In a very ownership-society type of way, the pyramid has been transformed into … MyPyramid. The website is super-slow thus far — I haven’t been able to really dig around yet — but the arrival of this new-fangled pyramid has made me wonder if some genius, marketing-savvy environmentalist might be able to fashion a clear graphical illustration of environmental do’s and don’ts for individuals. Relatively insignificant no-nos (say, acquiring yet one more nasty plastic bag) would be weighted appropriately against much more significant evildoings (say, purchasing a clothes dryer or embarking on yet one more cross-continental flight).

I’m not talking about exercises like the Ecological Footprint, which I find utterly demoralizing and disempowering. (Yes, if everyone lived like me, humanity would need 9 gazillion planets to make do, rather than our single orb.) I’m looking instead for a clear representation of what can be done about the problems facing us and how I (we do live in a me, me, me world) can take part. Of course, continuing in the me-me vein, the American public may latch onto MyPyramid because it ostensibly provides guidance for individual improvement (lose those pounds), while the benefits that came from following the wise advice of the as-of-yet undiscovered green graphic would accrue more to society. But, hey, I’m just trying to riff on something topical!

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

In closing, let me repeat this exceptionally moving (contain yourself) “Tip of the Week” from the USDA site:

MyPyramid: Do it for you. Make one small change each day for a healthier you.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

OK, maybe these folks (on loan, by the way, for a steep price from the food-industry world) aren’t such smarties after all.