Have you heard? Green is the new black

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photo credit: zazzle.com

Or at least that’s what I read on a t-shirt the other day. I thought the slogan was clever at first, but then I, an environmentally conscious individual, had a much more cynical second thought – Wait a second! Being ‘green’ is not a trend or a fashion statement. Sustainability is not a fad. And it saddened me that making sustainable choices in one’s life (i.e. being ‘green’) would have to be marketed in such a cliché way in order to make it sexy and appealing.

Have you seen the globe? Is it not sexy and attractive enough on its own? With all the hues of blues in both the skies and the waters, and the yellows of the sun beaming through the urban and rural lands; is the place you live not worth your effort and attention already?

Sustainability - what does the word even mean?
A buzzword in itself, sustainability is interconnected to concepts such as economy, environment, climate change, consumption, consumerism, ecology, global warming, social justice, leadership, development, community, human rights, human needs, and social marketing, just to name a few.

Simplified, sustainability is the practice of living today without compromising tomorrow; a minimalist perspective which allows Earth, nature, and humanity to live in harmony. It is the combination of people meeting their basic and human needs, while allowing the planet to thrive and survive.

At the rate we’re going, it is not looking good. Not only do we have global disparities between distant countries and populations, but we also have significant imbalances within our own local communities.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, our planet Earth is in a state of environmental, ecological and sociological crisis. Our globe’s environmental resources, ecological systems and social fabric are being misused and abused by us, humans. Do you see it? Have you ever thought about it?

What we need is a solid paradigm shift. A popular shift in human behaviour to make sustainable practices the norm, and unsustainable practices frowned upon. At the personal level, in your daily lives, there are constant opportunities to make healthier more sustainable choices both on and off campus. You just have to think about it. That is why students study, n’est ce pas? To think? So I encourage you to THINK about it.

THINK about your ecological and carbon footprints. Google leads you to several eco calculators.
THINK about your consumption levels. Are you a bigger-is-better, or less-is-more type of person?
THINK about your consumer choices. Do you consider where products come from? Who they are made by?
THINK about what you put into the Earth – water, waste, chemicals, materials, etc, because if you don’t want them, the Earth probably doesn’t either.

With that, I formally add to the token 3 environmental R’s; RETHINK.
ReThink. ReDuce. ReUse. ReCycle. It’s that simple.

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000” is the opening line of the documentary FOOD INC.. And if you take the time to think about it and consider the implications of that statement, they are shocking; absolutely shocking. (As is most of the information provided in the film. Book and DVD available to lend in the HP Resource Centre, UCU 203)

Nowadays between mass production, marketing materials, and the influence of the media, the average Canadian struggles to acquire natural, wholesome, local, good-for-you products or services. Much of society continues to be caught up in the mentality that bigger-is-better, packaged-3-times-over goods are perfectly acceptable, alongside a convenience factor of right now, if not sooner.

But here’s the thing, LIFE was NOT designed to be convenient; particularly when it comes to food. Effort, patience, willingness, and awareness are essential ingredients in the recipe for a greener, healthier lifestyle. A sustainable lifestyle may slow you down a smidgen, but isn’t that the point?

You can be green, without being extreme. You can be green without being trendy. You can be green, live sustainably, make healthy choices, and just be a regular person. You don’t need to be a so-called ‘hippie’. You don’t need the dread locks, hemp clothes, a bicycle with flowers on the basket, and a joint hanging out of your mouth to identify with environmental consciousness– although if that is your choice, to each his/her own! The point is that regardless of who you are, you always have options. The question is whether or not you are aware of your options.
Ignorance is bliss. Or, is it?

Living sustainably requires an open mind, willingness to learn, willingness to change, and some hardcore respect for our beloved Mother Nature. So, challenge yourself. How green can you be? Where’s your limit?
Get involved. Change your lifestyle.

Kermit said it best, “It’s not easy being green”, but for the sake of Planet Earth, I think it’s worth a shot.


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