What Do I Mean By ‘Green’?

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”
― Pete Seeger

Green is a hot term these days. Used interchangeably with ‘natural’ and often combined with ‘organic’, ‘sustainable’, and any word that can have the prefix ‘eco-‘ added in front of it, green can mean almost anything to anyone as long as you can picture a happy spot in nature while using the product being sold.

My problem with most of that is either the product seems more expensive or less effective (sometimes both). When I buy something, I often convert the amount of money it costs into how many hours I have to work to earn that much money. That helps me keep myself from mindlessly buying too much. It doesn’t work every time, but anytime I do remember to do that, I know I save money.

Don’t we all like saving money? But how to save money without being inconvenienced? If you don’t buy bathroom cleaner, how are you going to clean your bathroom? Who has time to handle dried beans? (Don’t they taste so boring when you cook them anyway?)

Never fear. My life is fun, exciting, green, and frugal. I don’t regret or resent any changes I’ve made because I keep the bigger picture in mind. I don’t mind any changes I’ve made because I’ve made them a priority. The health of the whole wide world is more important than me ordering in on a lazy evening. The best definition of ‘green’ I can come up with is this:

Green is (the act of) prioritizing the health of you, your community, and nature.

We all know eating whole, unprocessed food is better for us and the earth. We all know coating our bodies and homes in chemicals cannot be healthy for anyone. We all know that buying ‘green’ products doesn’t change how much resources are being used.

What can you do that doesn’t involve living in an off grid cabin, growing your own food, and eschewing any technological advance made since the Industrial Revolution? Small steps.

Being frugal dovetails quite well with being green. Ever notice how minimalism is often paired with green living? I don’t live like a monk, but I am mindful (though not nearly as much as a monk).

Being green means you can save green, keep the earth green, and make others green with envy at your new relaxed lifestyle.

Life isn’t a rat race because we are not rats. Life is art.


The First Step Happens Now

I get angry at all the ways I see us destroying the planet. And yet I use A/C like everyone else, order delivery, and live in a standard American house (apartment, whatever).

What can I do?

I love reading about ways to make my life more green. I enjoy Pinterest, LifeHacker, and buying ‘green’ products when I can afford them. More often than not, I know it’s expensive because of marketing. I dream of a tiny house and struggle with rent.

But is that it? Am I really helping?

I’m sure we’ve all had our doubts that we make a difference, especially after we do something we know is hard on the Earth, like enjoy a huge concert, attend a large BBQ cookout, throw a party and fill a garbage can on just one round of clean up. We feel defeated when we get excited about going through our garages and donating stuff, crafting with all the goods lying around. We never get to it, we get overwhelmed instead.

I’ve taken a new approach to being green and I’ve decided documenting my green tricks and the changes I’ve made is the best way to remember them and stay motivated. My approach is perhaps too simple for most, but over time I believe this is the most effective:

Take the smallest possible step. Then celebrate.

That’s what I do. I encourage myself to find new, easy, cheap ways to green up my life. I can’t buy fancy ‘green’ stuff. I can’t blow a paycheck at Whole Foods. I also freely admit I’m pretty darn lazy. I’d love to dedicate my life to the Sierra Club or other similar groups. And I’ll get there. But for now, in between work, sleep, friends, and more work (and now this blog!) I take my whole journey one step at a time.

It’s important to remember that while picking up one piece of litter seems useless and a waste of time, if one million people pick up one piece of litter, we have made a huge difference together. Living a community-minded life is the biggest difference you can make. It may also be the biggest step I can suggest taking. You don’t have to change your life, just change the direction you are going – one step at a time.

I hope to cover the lazy basics: petitions, Facebook likes/shares; as well as some cheap basics: cleaning solutions made with cheap stuff you have in the house already, simple and not cheap tasting meals. My greatest hope is that this inspires change in enough people that together we can start supporting each other as we take bigger and bigger steps.

Join me in making the Earth a better community for us all. Welcome.