Being Green – How Green Can We Be?

Hi Folks:

Well, next Monday marks the beginning of what is now ‘Earth Week’.  Forty years ago Earth Day began in the US, largely due to the efforts of US Senator Gaylord Nelson.  Forty years ago being an ‘environmentalist’ was generally looked down on, a title bestowed upon those radical hippie types with whom ‘normal’ people did not want to associate.  How times have changed, and for the good of all of us, too!  Daily Planet for example is hosting ‘Be Kind to Earth Week’ on Discovery Channel, but if you’ve signed up for the Biomimicry Institute’s Great TV Rebellion of 2010, you won’t be watching television, electing to go outside more instead.

The title for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post comes from a Twitter hashtag – #howgreencanweb from @eight bottles – people are invited to post ideas and methods for being greener with this tag attached.  How green can we be?  It’s an interesting question.  Note the question is not, “How green should we be?” because today the general answer is that we should all strive to be as green as possible. 

One of the dilemmas of being involved with the green movement is that one can become mired in these questions.  I still remember, years ago, Dr. David Suzuki lamenting that he invested so much time on airplanes and being on television (especially with his show The Nature of Things) in order to make people aware of the effects of those same actions on the planet we inhabit.  In his view he had in a way become his own enemy, using the same tools he was speaking against.  There was a tweet yesterday by the Biomimicry Institute that said, “RecycleYourDay has a CD giveaway for The Great @TVRebellion2010: http://bit.ly/a6uKgR Another way to enter? Tweet that you joined the GTVR!”  When I asked them if this wasn’t counterintuitive to the idea (giving away a CD for a project inviting people to turn off their electronics), their response was, “Alas, we must use screen time to get people time away from the screens. Use the positives of tech for good, then cut the fluff out!”  I’m not sure who decides what ‘fluff’ is, and I’m not trying to pick on them, but their response echoes the sentiments professed by Dr. Suzuki.

The larger issue, of course is that we must use the resources of the planet in learning how to make wise choices about how we use the resources of the planet.  Some people are already asking, “Will we do it in time?” or “Are we already too late?”  Personally, I don’t think we are too late.  Yes, the earth is changing.  There’s no question about that, nor has there been for some time.  Yes, humans are having an effect on global environmental systems.  There’s no question about that either.  But set against that is the rising level of awareness and willingness among people to make efforts to change the way they interact with each other and the planet.  One of these ways is making a choice to reduce one’s ‘footprint’.  In the 1980s words like ‘carbon offset program’ were never strung together in the same sentence.  We as a species have remarkable capabilities to adapt, to invent and to create.  I was talking with a woman in the hardware store last week who told me that she’s switching all of her lighbulbs to CFLs.  It’s an admirable step for her and her family.  I still remember, 14 years ago, someone in the southern US asked me, “Is it true they have something in Canada called recycling?”  Around that same time I remember reading about a particular family of four, living in a major Canadian city who, in one year, threw out 2 bags of garbage.  A decade or so ago there was an ad campaign by one of the oil companies that basically encouraged people to drive, even a block to the store.  Nowadays such an ad would be professional suicide.  Today we have tax writeoffs and other incentives to encourage people to walk, ride or take public transit.  Instead of ‘Bike to Work Week‘ perhaps we should have a “Drive to Work Week’, assuring that what we see now as alternatives become the mainstream.

I’ve been involved with the environmental movement myself for about 35 years, personally and later professionally as well.  I didn’t participate in the first Earth Day celebration; I didn’t hear about it until April 22, 1970 had passed.  But in those 35 years I have seen and continue to see amazing new breakthroughs in technology and shifts in public awareness and the common paradigms with which we live our lives.  And that, to me is something important to remember.  We’re all pushing ourselves and each other to ‘do’ more: to cut back more, to change our diets more, to purchase less, to… there are probably a million different ways to change how we engage the planet.  But in the midst of all of this we should take a second to stop and look around us at what we HAVE accomplished.  In the past few years we’ve made some amazing strides.  Is there more to do?  Yes, definitely.  And creating a sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our children’s children will take more new Ways than we have so far put forth.  But we also need to acknowledge how far we have come.  Honouring our accomplishments will not detract from our future.  And remember (as I saw recently): Think globally, act hopefully.

Okay, the links for this week include:

Okay, that’s it for now.  Have a great week!

Mike.

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P.S.  For something a little different: Studying Sea Life for a Glue That Mends People

2 Replies to “Being Green – How Green Can We Be?”

  1. Lucy

    Hey thanks so much! I’m so thrilled to see more people are paying attention to the How Green Can We Be campaign. At Eight Bottles we push the limit to make the greenest product we can — 100% recycled post-consumer materials (no blend, no post-industrial, no added dyes) down to every button, the tiny neck tag, the protective bag, the packaging, the labels, etc…And everything is recyclable. We feel that it’s important to show the world that we can do it. And I would like to find more who push the limit as well, and to encourage more to do the same. Awareness is a powerful thing. We hope this coming Earth Day is going to raise more awareness among people from all walks of life, and we would like to be part of the voice:) Thanks again for mentioning the #HowGreenCanWeB twitter chain and for raising more awareness! — Lucy @eightbottles

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