Busting Green Stereotypes

I don’t like tofu. I have never taken a yoga class in my life. By now, you’re either thinking: 1) And you call yourself a greenie? or 2) Phew! I’ve always secretly thought tofu was kind of gross.

I filled out a survey a while ago for a book about ‘green women’ (or whatever that means), and realized about ten seconds in that I wasn’t the right type of greenie. The first question asked why I considered myself a green diva, guru, or green living expert.

Er. I don’t? I’m just a concerned global citizen with a blog? Some of the later questions were about how I used yoga, meditation, and herbal supplements in my ‘wellness routine.’  At a guess, staring at floaters doesn’t count as meditation. Too bad.

The stereotype implied in this survey — a pretty common one — really gets my hackles up. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of women who do all these things and act effectively to mitigate climate change; it’s that I associate the stereotype with wispy, new age types whose intense self-absorption seriously compromises their ability to be more conscious about the world they live in and how their actions affect it. You know, the ones who buy all the stuff from Gaiam without stopping to wonder, do I really need this Buddha statue made from recycled hearing aids for my Zen garden? Urgh.

Green comes in every possible shade and form you can think of.  You can still be a greenie even if, like me, you’re not into yoga and you’d rather eat a balanced diet than take supplements. You can care about the planet if you’re conservative or liberal, rich or poor, a proud parent or an outspoken childfree-er. Giving a damn about the future of the only known habitat in which we (and many other species) can thrive isn’t about being pigeon-holed into a specific lifestyle; it’s about making more thoughtful, ec0-conscious decisions in different parts of your life, whatever your circumstances.

So, it’s OK if you don’t own even a single pair of Birkenstocks (I don’t), aren’t a stay at home middle class white female (I’m not), and don’t shop at Whole Foods (I can’t afford to). Setting up a green stereotype doesn’t accomplish anything but alienate the people who are trying, in different ways, to reduce their impact.

Aberrant greenies, unite! Or not — just keep making Earth-smart decisions on your own.


2 responses to this post.

  1. What an excellent post! I think I fit somewhere in the middle of you, and your description of the stereotype! At least I have never had a pair of Birkenstocks. Good read, and thoughtful. Even us greenies need diversity!


    • Posted by ailanna on 09/28/2010 at 09:03

      Hi Lisa! I agree — the green movement should just be composed of people who give a damn about our continued future on this planet…which I hope would be many more than those who identify as greenies!


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