What it means to be "Green"
The sustainability movement has really picked up speed recently! With the numerous challenges we face, people are feeling a sense of duty to act and adopt sustainable practices into their daily lives. I feel it too! Everyday people making small changes can have a significant impact on our progress toward achieving a sustainable society for all. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on living Green and how each individual can have the biggest impact.
Show me the money!
With increased awareness and popularity comes those who would try to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. I'm talking about "greenwashing." Greenwashing is the practice of making something appear as though it meets the criteria for sustainability while simply being a marketing gimmick to steer some of these "conscious" dollars into the pockets of less than worthy places.
Perhaps the largest voice that everyday people can have is with the money they spend in their daily lives. With every dollar spent, we are clearly announcing our preferences to companies that provide us with essential goods. For decades this voice was shouting, "Give me the cheapest possible product, NO MATTER WHAT!" This race to the bottom supply of goods has increased societal inequality around the world and resulted in companies pillaging the natural world to stay competitive for your dollars. We call these costs "externalities" and they are the invisible costs (pollution for example) that are borne by everyone so that one person can have a t-shirt for $3.99.
My advice? Think critically about the purchases you make. Look closely at the "Green" labelling and decide for yourself if you think your money is going into the right place. Choose products with less or sustainable packaging, that are sourced from companies that are not exploiting the labour of poor people globally, or that are locally produced. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but just some examples on how to grow your impact with simple choices. Most importantly, spend money as though you were casting a vote... because you are!
Be an active participant in change!
I will be the first to admit that much of our society and governance needs serious improvement. It is easy to be dismissive and defeatist about the problems we face and the systems that exist for fixing them. The reality is that the systems in place are what we have to work with; unless conscious, forward thinking, and passionate people get involved then we will just fall victim to "slacktivism" and further division from unhealthy discourse that doesn't lead to productivity. As new people with new ideas get involved with government, volunteering, or non-profit organizations, meaningful change can grow and the needed paradigm shifts can occur!
Frankly, the time to act regarding sustainability was years ago, but that doesn't mean we can't all chip in and start to solve some of the great challenges we face now!
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."