In the past week, I came across two comments by completely different people about how sucky/snobby/discouraging it is when people say it’s hard to be green. Given the name of my blog, I took this maybe a little personally and began to wonder if I was going about marketing greenness in a completely ass-backward manner. Is my blog discouraging people from going greener? Is this an identity crisis I sense sneaking up on me? Uh oh.
On one hand, I agree that we need to be encouraging even very small, easy steps towards more sustainable living. Everybody starts somewhere; even if it’s just recycling your disposable plastic water bottles, hey, that could lead to buying a reusable and then realizing that other disposables in your life can be swapped out for reusables. There is no room for snobbery in this movement. However green we think we are, we could all be doing more. Full stop.
On the other hand, the problems of climate change, fresh water shortages, and loss of biodiversity are so enormous and so immediate that I am very reluctant to dumb down ‘being green’ to the level of small, easy, minimally effective things we can do, like changing a lightbulb or switching to a reusable glass drinking straw. Even if recognizing and taking responsibility for the full problem is daunting, isn’t the first step to solving any problem to identify it? How productive is it really to 1) trivialize the issue and/or 2) overemphasize small actions that make little or no difference?
There’s room for both approaches, of course. The ‘being green is easy’ approach is fine to start with and will certainly attract more new people than the ‘crap, we’re really screwing ourselves over’ one. My problem with the ‘being green is easy’ attitude is that it doesn’t necessarily encourage us to try harder, do more. It’s limited unless it leads to a realization of the full scope of the issue and a desire to do more about it.
Ultimately, I can’t quite bring myself to endorse being green[er] as easy. Some of the changes are easy, sure. But the attitude change — the ability to see all resources as acutely limited and act accordingly, the willingness to see how interconnected we are and take responsibility — now that’s harder. I think a massive collective attitude change will be essential to making any significant dent in the problem. It may not happen; it certainly won’t happen as quickly as we need it to. Judging by the sense of panic I feel about giving up my car, it won’t be easy, either. I’m hopeful that encouraging people to think about their decisions as I detail my own quirky foray into greenness is ultimately going to be more effective than claiming it’s easy.
And besides, it just feels more honest.
What are your thoughts? Is it easy or hard to be green? Do I need a marketing overhaul?