Is "Going Green" a Fad or a Trend?

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“Let me hear you make decisions without your television….”  “Stripped,” — Depeche Mode

I predict that “Going Green” will be the top buzz phrase of 2008.  And, as with most things that become “popular” when I’ve been doing them for a long while without the benefit of its popularity,  my cynicism is in direct proportion.  I’ve found far too many politicians who set their moral compass by the polls and too many sheep in the populace who follow every fad that hits their multiple TV screens.  “Going Green” deserves to be more than a fad.

I’m especially cynical, I suppose, since I’ve been  failing most of the “Are You Green Enough?” quick quizzes out there.  Me–a tree-hugging, Goddess-loving, corporate hippie.

I usually fail these for at one of the following reasons:

  1. I’m supposed to be taking public transportation to work.  Okay, good theory…if you live in a city or someplace where there IS public transportation.  This is akin to me telling a city dweller to grow his own veggies in the 40-acres behind his Manhattan apartment.  There is no public transportation where I live, and you’d have to drive several hours to get to the nearest city that has such a system.  Riding my bike to work won’t cut it either.  Fourteen miles in one direction just isn’t going to work for me with my knee injury, especially on the roads outside of my subdivision.  I occasionally see one guy risking his life along the unsidewalked highway.   I think his name is Lance something….

My schedule doesn’t allow carpooling to and from work but I do share rides to meetings and walk once I’m parked, provided my knee is in prime condition.  (I’m a huge fan of walking, so this is doubly cool when I get to.)  I’ve also been on a flexible work schedule for years, with one day off for every 10 or less, and I’ve tried to convince my bosses to let me telecommute–since 1998.    Yes, I work for the U.S. Government where we talk a lot about going green but…well…we talk a lot.

  1. I’m supposed to be using flourescent light bulbs which save energy and the electric bill.  I’m a typical early adopter of radical causes.  I bought small round circle-bulbs  for every home lamp back when they were first introduced in department and specialty stores.  This was YEARS ago when they cost $8 each.  In the past year, however, I’ve been letting all my flourescent bulbs die out and replacing them with energy-saving regular bulbs.   Why?  Because about the time I started having to wear reading glasses, the flourescent house lights started bothering my eyes, whether I’m reading or just bumping into walls.  I’m not sure what it is and I’ve tried different bulbs and different methods, but with my latest vision change, I had to make a decision in favor of my eyesight.    (This is not a request for advice on which bulbs to buy–it’s between my eye doc and me, and the decision’s been made.)
  2. The third reason I’ve been failing these “Green” quizzes is because I refuse to cut back on TV-watching.  The idea of cutting back to 1 hour per night?  Not gonna happen.  It’s extremely rare that I watch 1 hour per WEEK.  In fact, 1 hour per MONTH is closer to my norm.  But that’s so out of the norm for everyone else that it’s not even accounted for as a possibilty for the typical American.

Shannon watched Oprah a few weeks ago when the show was helping two “typical Amercian families” to go green.  With the AC/heater unit off and the windows up for a lovely spring breeze to blow through the house, Shannon sat with pen and paper, anxious for some new tips–and found we’d been doing all of the tips for most of her life, with the exception of public transportation.  She was appalled at the idea of typical families having three or four TVs running at once (or even owning that many), cooking different meals for multiple family members in one sitting, and the sheer volume of waste. I wanted to tell her it wasn’t typical, but earlier in the day, I’d talked to different colleagues who complained about whether to replace the newly broken TV when they have four others because everyone watches a different program schedule every night,  what to cook for each of the kids and the hubby that night,  and how much kid-chauffering they do every week.

So even though I have my preferred trade-offs for various health-related reasons, I felt pretty good about our family’s “green” habits. We’ve consistently done or tried to do the little things that add up and make sense for us, not to follow the rage but because it was right for us and our environmental philosophy.  But it also brought home the fact that we don’t usually know the difference between our “normal” and other people’s “normal” until we grow up and get out into the world and discover that people do things differently.

I guess “Going  Green” really is different for a lot of people, and since every little bit helps, jumping on the bandwagon will do at least some good for all those “typical” families out there.


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