Tuesday, January 15, 2008

the Green Movement

me circa 1991 - high school talent show

I believe I was born an activist. I cannot remember a day when I wasn't questioning authority or pushing for change of some sort. I am sure my parents can attest that this frame of mind was born in me. My earliest memory of resisting rules was in school. By the time I hit high school it was clear to me that I was like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I did understand nor agree with the bell system. Why was I sent to the office if I came in a minute after the bell rang but a teacher could walk into class late? Why did I need a pass to go to the bathroom? Why couldn't I eat during study hall if I was hungry? I felt and still do that young adults need some freedom to grow and ready themselves for adulthood. When I was in school Martin Luther King day was not observed. My junior year of high-school I participated in a protest at our school fighting for the school to observe this day. We held a sit in outside the school's office and did not attend classes all day. Half way through the day we moved the sit in to the library where one by one we got up and spoke about why we felt the day should be observed. We spoke from out heart, read excerpts from books and I even read one of my own poems.

The school responded. They could not change the fact that the state did not at that time recognize it as a state holiday but they promised to recognize it within the school by having an assembly the next year and doing other in class activities. I felt proud at that moment. I still remember the feeling of accomplishment. We stood up for what we believed in and we were able to make change. The school stayed true to their promise.

I then became increasingly interested in the environment. I was a "hippy" of the early 90's if you can believe they existed at that time. The Grateful Dead was still going strong and by the time I graduated from high school I had already seen more than a handful of shows. In fact my father took me to my first show when I was in 8th grade. It was the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan playing together. It was amazing. The book that changed me was How to Make the World a Better Place by Jeffrey Hollender. In case you don't know Jeffrey Hollender is the president of Seventh Generation. A company I would end up working for 4 years after I graduated from High School. This book basically opened up my eyes to the need for making small changes in our every day lives in order to help clean up our planet. I became an activist for recycling back when it was not mandatory for most towns to recycle. Our town at the time certainly did not. This was 1991.

In college I became a vegetarian. At first I ate nothing but pasta and bagels with cheese. I can remember going into the small health food store that existed in my college town and I would just stare at all the shelves not knowing what to buy and what to do with it once I did buy it. I have now been a vegetarian for 15 years. My knowledge of health, food and nutrition has grown so much over this time. I still choose to not eat it for animal rights issues but also for environmental reasons.

In no way am I living the ideal environmentally friendly perfect life. We certainly do a lot to contribute though. Here are a few things we do:
-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
-Buy local when possible
-Compost
-Own only one car
-Use cloth bags
-Use only environmentally friendly household products
-Use energy efficient light bulbs
-Grow a garden
-Buy our vegetables from a local organic CSA Farm-share (summer & winter)
-Use rechargeable batteries
-Teach our children about all of the above
-Do NOT use lawn chemicals or fertilizers
-Use a push lawn mower

The funny thing to me is that most of these things I have been practicing for many many years. To me it isn't about who is right regarding global warming. I don't think anyone can dispute the fact that our landfills are growing and growing fast with products that do not biodegrade, I don't think anyone can argue that most mainstream house hold cleaners are not only bad for the environment but especially bad for the health of our families. I think it would be hard for anyone to dispute the fact that it cannot do anything but help the environment to implement some of these changes.

Yes these changes impact the earth, but I also believe they can make changes in a person. In a way becoming green forces a person to look at their life. How they buy, how they horde or dispose, how they live their daily lives. Going Green is a catch phrase that sometimes makes me squirm. It is not a fad. It is a way of life that many people have been doing for a long time. But in the same breath as much as I hate the fact that it is becoming a fad I am also pleased it it bringing awareness to many people who might not have had the knowledge to make these choices. Perhaps making it mainstream will be what it takes for companies and people to start making small changes. I hope it can.

There are so many small changes a person can choose to make. If you can't seem to agree that any of these changes would somehow benefit our earth, at least do a few because they could possible save you some money, improve your health and just maybe make you feel like a darn good person.

1 comment:

KL said...

That is so weird...when my sister was in 8th grade my Dad took her to her first concert. Dylan and the Dead!
My first concert? Not so cool...David Lee Roth, Skyscraper Tour.