When I was 12 (in 1979) I began to hear things about alternative energy. This was toward the end of the U.S. “energy crisis” when there had been lines of cars waiting for overpriced gasoline, and even cereal boxes promoted energy conservation. I recall putting a sticker on our kitchen light switch cover that had been the prize at the bottom of the box which said, “Fruit Brute says “Keeping Lights OUT is IN””. From that point on Green Living became an interest of mine, although it wasn’t called that back then.
So what exactly is Green Living? Also referred to as Sustainable Living, Wikipedia defines it as “a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the earth’s natural resources and personal resources.” Doesn’t sound to difficult, right? But for most it’s easier said than done. It takes a conscious effort, it’s a LIFESTYLE change. That’s never easy.
On average an American citizen creates approximately 1,600 lbs of trash a year! That’s just sad, and well…wasteful! And where does all that trash go? Some states have landfills, some states incinerate it, and some states put it on barges and dump it in the ocean. None of these options are helping anyone. Living Green means that rather than throwing your garbage in a trash can, you recycle what you can, compost what you can, and repurpose or reuse what you can, thereby reducing the amount that ends up in a landfill taking years and years to break down or wrapped around a turtle’s neck in the ocean or damaging the atmosphere.
A few years after college, in 1993, I became vegetarian, grew my first organic garden, did some canning and freezing, and was well on my way to a greener lifestyle. By 1996 I had built an off the grid home with one tiny solar panel, a solar composting outhouse, no indoor plumbing, and a huge organic garden. I felt I had arrived. My spirit soared and I was happy knowing I was leaving just a tiny footprint on the earth. Since then I have found many more ways to Live Green. But it wasn’t easy, and took hours of research and trial and error, trips to the library, attendance at conferences/classes, purchase of NUMEROUS books on any number of subjects from green building, to organic gardening and homeopathic remedies…you name it and I’ve probably read a book on it!
While I don’t claim to be 100% green, I never feel guilty about the 10% I may not achieve (I drive an SUV, not a hybrid) as I am doing about 90% more than an average American. Becoming more green takes a conscientious effort and an awareness of the impact your actions have on the world at large. I would suggest taking a look at your life and pick just ONE thing you could do to have a greener lifestyle. Maybe it’s making a conscious effort to shut lights out when you’re not in a room, to turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, eating less meat, carpooling, buying organic produce or purchasing second hand clothes. When an appliance in your household needs replacing, choosing an energy efficient model is having a green impact. Every little bit helps reduce your negative impact on the earth and takes you one step closer to living a Green Life. Once you have made that one tiny change into a lifestyle or habit, choose another tiny thing you can change. Incrementally you will find that you are having a smaller and smaller negative impact on the world around you.