06 January 2011

The top misleading myths about going green (part one)

Stuck somewhere between wanting to but not quite getting around to greening up your act? You're in good company. There are countless people out there just like you who, for one reason or another, haven't yet put their green intentions into action. This two-part article is tailored just for you. Do any of the eco-excuses below ring a bell? Fortunately, it's the beginning of a bright, shiny new year and you have the opportunity to stop procrastinating and start doing....so read on and perhaps you might become inspired to turn over a fresh green leaf!

It's just a trend that will soon pass.

Going green (becoming more sympathetic to our environment, adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle or whatever you want to call it) is about taking measurable actions to protect our planet's livelihood. Through our behavior, we can ensure that generations to come will still have a place that they can call home with all of the natural beauty and normalcy that we have been privy to up until now.

It may seem as though it's the hip new thing to do, but environmental awareness has been around a very long time -- it's just that the majority of us are finally paying attention because we have been witnessing first hand that things have become noticeably screwy outside our windows. Weather patterns are more than a little odd, heat waves have been oppressive, droughts widespread, polar ice...well, you've read the news.

If you think for a moment that a year from now, the hot new trend will be going purple and we'll have all forgotten all about this eco mumbo-jumbo, think again. If we continue living irresponsibly, depleting our planet's resources and churning out non-biodegradable waste like there's no tomorrow, then before we know it, there really will be no tomorrow.

It's just a diabolical marketing strategy that companies have devised.

If I had a nickel for every single time a friend or colleague claimed that going green is just a vast sales conspiracy, I'd have single-handedly funded the cleanup efforts of the Great Pacific and Atlantic Garbage Patches by now. I'm quite sure that companies are absolutely thrilled to have a new sales angle to pursue, and there's no denying that if they had their way, every household in the world would kick all of their old stuff to the curb in favor of replacing it with brand new eco-friendly items.

Be that as it may, these companies didn't arrange a pact with the devil in order to ensure healthy sales for the indefinite future. They may be taking advantage of our really unfortunate eco-reality and the majority of them might even be responsible for contributing to the current state of our planet via their irresponsible (and in many cases flat out criminal) manufacturing processes, but science doesn't lie. What's happening to our planet is not a fabrication or an outlandish story -- between the palpable climate crisis, loss of major wildlife species and burgeoning global population, we are living-breathing-witnessing the changes with our own two eyes and verging on the point of no return.

It's just a ploy to get me to spend more money.

If you want to follow the cue of manufacturers that have jumped on the going green bandwagon, you could certainly drop a wad while converting your entire household and its contents over to eco-friendly goodness...but guess what? It is entirely unnecessary. Think back to the way that our grandparents and their parents lived and it's not hard to recognize that they were green before the catchphrase was ever even coined. Making things with their own two hands, growing their own food, reusing, repairing...it was all part of a simpler, practical and more economical lifestyle.

We should all bear in mind that our insatiable appetite for purchasing shiny-new trinkets is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. If we stopped buying junk designed by manufacturers to last no more than a year tops, then perhaps we'd really make a dent in our pattern of consumerism...oh yeah, it wouldn't hurt if we also resisted the temptation to strut through stores merely as a form of weekend entertainment. It may sound like a crazy concept, but if you stop window shopping, you won't even know what you're missing -- you might just find that you appreciate what you already own a lot more, too.

And for those who claim that purchasing organic food takes a huge bite out of one's budget, while I heartily agree, you'd be amazed at how many manufacturer's coupons exist for the vast majority of those brands. When you use them in conjunction with a sale (at a store that honors double coupons), you'll be sitting pretty.

It's only for elitist snobs.

A friend of mine who shall remain nameless recently made fun of the fact that I refuse to buy conventional milk, claiming that the cheapie conventionally-produced version was suddenly beneath me. I explained that after checking various sources and really taking the time to understand what is actually in regular milk (a lot more than vitamin D, folks), I made a commitment to purchase that household staple exclusively in its organic form. Am I really a snob for being concerned about what I put into my body?

For far too long, I ate whatever items were the cheapest without once thinking that there was a much more serious price to pay for all of the deals that I scored. I never thought about my health or the way that animals were being raised/treated...and as for the environmental consequences, I was absolutely clueless. Then, I joined a green social network, started reading what other people had to say and made a point of educating myself. A few years into the whole going green thing, I refuse to support factory farming, I choose organic whenever possible and know that my purchasing choices make a huge difference in honoring the green movement. Just in case you were wondering, I do it all while armed with a fistful of coupons and even purchase the majority of my organic food on clearance.


Part two of this article is just around the corner. We'd love you to bits for scheduling a smidgen of time in your workday tomorrow to read the conclusion, perhaps while noshing on your lunchtime sandwich. Catch you then...okay?

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/kevinmjack