Conservationism has now become a point of contention in our society between couples, parents and kids, and individuals. In a way, that’s a good thing: enough people care deeply enough to make environmentalism an issue. Of course, being green[er] can also make us self-righteous, intolerant, and ultimately unhelpful in furthering the green cause. Most of us recognize that we need to be doing something, but few of us agree on what, and how far is far enough.
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re concerned about the environment and are actively doing something to mitigate the situation — whether by donating money to World Wildlife, replacing bottled water with a reusable, participating in Meatless Monday, or doing something more drastic like getting rid of the car, installing solar panels, or going vegan — you’re part of the solution. Congratulations!
Is there more you could (and perhaps should) be doing? Of course there is. And some people will already be practicing greener water usage, transportation, eating habits, etc. But again, it’s relative. If you start replacing some of your industrially farmed meat with grass-fed or organic, that’s good. If you cut down on meat, that’s better. If you go completely vegetarian, that’s even better. But that’s still not as green as the vegan who grows and buys food exclusively locally and hoofs it home.
Fortunately, there’s room for compromise in a greener lifestyle — which is good, because no one can be perfectly green in every way. Take my friend Erin, for example. By most standards, she’s a lot greener than I am. We’re both vegetarian, but she buys more local and organic food and grows some of her own. I try not to drive unless I have to; she doesn’t own a car. We both donate to Nature Conservancy; she volunteers her time planting trees. But Erin flies four times as much as I do and plans to have two kids, where I’m a homebody and look forward to being an evolutionary dead end. It probably evens out, but even if it doesn’t, who cares? We both lead relatively green lifestyles that our consciences can stomach. There is no point to beating ourselves up (or having other people do it) over the fact that we could always be greener. We do both keep trying.
Here’s my bottom line: make as many green changes as you are willing and happy to make. And keep looking for new changes you’re willing to make. The world would be a lot less of a mess if everyone who had the luxury of doing so actually did. I’m all for encouraging and educating people on the many ways we could reduce our impact, but there’s no point in a greener-than-thou attitude. The people who really deserve our censure are the ones who don’t believe climate change has anything to do with human behavior.