Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How not to be a "trendy" conservationist.

My conservation class had a detailed discussion about this subject. Is it a good thing that being ecofriendly has become so popular? We came up with two different perspectives.

One is the good - people are thinking (however slightly) about their environmental impact. They use metal water bottles, eat from farmer's markets or buy organic, buy a Prius instead of a Hummer, and recycle. Basically, it's a start to true environmentalism and sustainable living.

The down side is that environmentalism becomes trendy, and suddenly it's a cliche selling point. "GREEN!" screams each and every semi-recycled, maybe-not-as-good-as-it-claims product. Yahoo! has a list of "Signs of a green hypocrite" that is worth a read. It's not ground breaking, but it's a start to make people think. Mainly it lists things like "people who use reusable bags but still eat meat at every meal", or "takes an eco-vacation but flies there, and first-class to boot".

Sustainable living shouldn't be a fad. It should be a way of life. Fads come and go, but true lifestyle changes stay with us. The hardest part for most people is making sure that the changes are feasible for their life, not the Grapefruit Diet of environmentalism. Sure, you lose C02 weight while you're on the bandwagon, but as soon as you fall off, you gain it all back again. But watching your C02 calories, decreasing your intake of single-use products, and cutting back on your oil, you've got a lifestyle plan that you're able to retain for years.

Make the changes fit your life, not vice versa. If you love bottled water, then get a reusable bottle and a charcoal filter. If you love new clothes, go to a thrift store and donate things when you no longer want them. If you love meat (like me!) then don't give it up entirely, but become a Sunday carnivore.  Life is about balance. Give being green a high priority, but make sure you can handle the change without resentment.

Most importantly, if you're going to talk the talk, whatever your particular environmental issue is, be sure you're walking the walk first. I surprised a friend when we headed to a mall and I made a purchase. I asked for no bag and whipped out my trusty furoshiki.
"You're sure serious about this whole environmentalism thing, aren't you?" She asked.
"Of course I am," I replied. "How can I recommend things on my blog if I don't do them myself?" As Gandhi said, be the change you wish to see in the world (otherwise, who will follow?).

Sometimes we slip. It's inevitable. I forgot my furoshiki when I changed purses and had to get two grocery bags just the other day. To use a cliche, sustainable living and environmental living are marathons, not sprints. You can bet exactly what went into my purse when I went home. That's green living, long term, not short-term.

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