Accidentally Eco: The Sustainability of 'Rings of Power' and Middle-earth
The world of Rings of Power finds the inhabitants of Middle-earth honoring the land and making use of what they have.
September 22, 2022
Welcome to Middle-earth. The land is lush (well, minus any overseen by orcs) the architecture is stunning (we see you, Lindon), and the land’s Second Age finds various races striving to thrive in a pre-ring world built of accidentally eco moments.
Whether you can’t get enough of Rings of Power and its gorgeous aesthetic or consider it too stark a departure from J.R.R. Tolkien’s guiding and world-defining text, The Silmarillion, the show (and its record price of production) has likely infiltrated your media landscape. Amid news of extreme weather and an ever-present air of climate anxiety, everyone loves a fantasy world.
J.R.R. Tolkien and Environmentalism
The world and events of Tolkien’s fiction are largely inspired by his experience fighting in WWI and the author’s opinions on industrialism. Mordor signals the death of a once vital land, and “Saruman the wizard ‘has a mind for metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment,’” as noted by CNN.
As Rings of Power is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth, though infinitely complex, is a purer place in the environmental sense.
5 Accidentally Eco Aspects of 'Rings of Power'
1. Everything About the Harfoots
The Harfoots are essentially the original environmentalists. The race—a precursor to the Hobbits of later generations—eschews the trappings of city life, instead creating makeshift (and easily relocated) settlements that allow them to be one with the natural world.
These rustic peoples forage, wildcraft, weave with natural fibers, move with the seasons, and generally honor the land they live upon—and sometimes disappear into.
A member of Middle-earth’s human population, Bronwyn is a healer who relies on herbalism when creating her remedies. The age-old practice of utilizing plants and herbs to make medicine is the foundation of our modern system and requires an immense amount of learned knowledge and respect for nature.
3. Horseback Riding
Let's face it: traveling by horseback is far more sustainable than any contemporary modes of transport, which combine to account for the bulk of our carbon emissions. That said, we don’t necessarily condone costuming the animals.
4. No-Buy Lifestyle
Elves are immortal. While, for some, this could translate to centuries of consumerism, the elves use their time in the world to master skills, creating their own (very impressive) wardrobes and generally cultivating wisdom.
We like to imagine that, before exiting the coil in favor of the Halls of Mandos, the elves champion a no-buy lifestyle, the better to preserve the stunning environs of Middle-earth and beyond.
5. Outdoor Appreciation
The natural landscape is integral to life in Middle-earth. From council meetings to catch-ups with old friends, most things take place in the open air, nature providing a beautiful foundation to the story's ceaseless events.