Going Green

green earth and energyGreen jobs, green cars, a green economy, do you ever wonder what exactly qualifies as green and how green is green?

It has been said that green is the new black…a trend, a new wave, maybe even a cool way to live. But is that it?

There are so many good reasons for this ‘greening’, this shift that is becoming a huge global movement, but this must be something more significant than just a fleeting fad. So much is at stake here from the air that we breathe, to the food that we eat and perhaps even the future of our way of life, and that is something that we are all pretty accustomed to.

What we are facing here is a paradigm shift that offers so much good, on so many levels, from our personal health all the way to restoring balance on the planet.

What the industrial revolution brought to change the way mankind lived, and in many ways it improved people’s lives tremendously, the green revolution can do now. The potential to improve our lives may be even greater since we are looking to restore a balance that has been lost in many ways and the available technology is pretty fantastic.

So what exactly is green?

I was curious so I just checked Wikipedia to see how they defined it, and this use of green is not even mentioned. Not only are we venturing into new territory, the use of the word in this way is even new.

To me being or living green means to live in a sustainable manner, where we cause as little damage to the earth, each other and ourselves as possible. To try to live in a way that we give back more than we take, or at the very least to create no net harm. This is a totally new way to live for most of us in the U.S.. We can apply this to how food is grown, how energy is generated, how we decide what we buy, as well as how we relate to our community-both on a local level and the bigger global community.

You can read about how to go green at treehugger.com (as well as more ideas here on SmartLifeways) in all areas of your life from sex to building your home. There is of course a huge range in the ‘how green is green’ discussion, but at this point I think that any effort is a good one and this in turn presents the opportunity to realize that this can be done without creating any hardship, which I think is many people’s fear. We are not needing to go back in time, but rather to use existing technology to move forward changing standard practices that have come at too big of a price to the environment and human beings. In fact I believe that as people get started in their ‘greening’ they will feel more connected to themselves, their loved ones, their community and the world. Then this will become a real shift from competitiveness to cooperation, from isolation to community on many levels.

Why are we witnessing such a big push lately about going green?

I think that it is for a few reasons…

We have allowed things to go too far so we have to act NOW to make a change or we face some very serious consequences to the environment.

We are also seeing the external costs that were ignored for so long from the way we have been operating: Health care costs spiraling from too many people eating too much cheap food. Cancer rates rising in some areas due to the pollution generated from industry. Destruction to land from mining that then can lead to flooding and loss of fertile land. Farming methods and livestock factory farms that pollute tremendously. There are so many ways that we are being impacted from many years of short-sightedness.

The financial meltdown can also be seen as an indictor of an economy that is no longer sustainable. The world is changing around us and our economy must also change accordingly. The time of unbridled growth at any cost must be laid to rest. It is possible to have a vibrant thriving economy and this shift will allow for that in many ways. Sustainable businesses take better care of their employees, and then communities benefit. Such businesses also do not pollute, or seek to minimize it considerably, since they are interested in more than just profits–while profits are still important.

I think that we are at a pivotal time because the global community is in a closer relationship with individual, local communities. The effects of a multinational corporation can be far reaching and at the same time people almost everywhere around the world have access to connecting with a larger community. What was once possible to keep a secret is not so easy anymore, and the damage done has been huge in many places around the world, from inner cities to the rainforest, and people are speaking out and taking action.

In effect going green can be a very empowering experience. Often today so many of the issues that we face seem so big that a sense of powerlessness arises, but by taking steps to ‘go green’ we take action knowing that that we are making a difference.

When you say no to industrial agriculture and factory farming you are making a statement that you support a sustainable way to feed yourself. The same applies to supporting farmers markets. You have the power to say that you want variety in your food choices, that you want it chemical free and that you don’t want the land, and water resources polluted in the process. Just shopping differently has all of these effects.

When you turn off lights that you don’t need on you help reduce the huge electric bill that is created daily and has led to increased demand for fossil fuels, which cause havoc to the environment and often the people living near mines or refineries, not to mention the political implications.

When you reduce, reuse and recycle you are demonstrating your concern for the environment, and the over consumption of ‘stuff’ that is growing at a tremendous rate. We only have one planet and there are a lot of people here and then to think about all that is produced and then thrown away… what happens to it all and where does it all go? We once were able to say “not in my backyard” and forget about it but somehow the world has gotten smaller as there are more of us and now the planet is everyone’s backyard so we need to pay attention.

It is time for a shift in our habits, and in our way of thinking. We get to be a part of what may be one of the most exciting periods in history. We have the technology to create incredible products to help us do less harm and potentially even do good. We can generate electricity from the sun, make clothes from recycled materials and we can create structures that are self sustaining. There are so many new ways to create a more sustainable life that what is possible is mind boggling. I will be writing about some of them in the upcoming weeks.

We will have to make changes one way or another so we may as well start now and know that we have our destiny in our hands….what will you do today to make a greener tomorrow?