Friday, January 25, 2013

FIfty Shades of Green

With a gallon of gas costing as much as your morning latte, the idea of “going green” is turning heads as our decisions as consumers and citizens pile up around us. Where “going green”—a reference to the prominent color in nature—once meant an all-or-nothing proposition for which most or all choices were environmentally conscious, the modern definition is more fluid. Minimally a green lifestyle is one in which a person takes active steps to ensure that his or her choices minimize negative impacts on the natural world. The good news is it’s never too late to paint one’s life a deeper shade of green. What can seem daunting is selecting the perfect hue. The key is to shift one’s choices in a way that suits current obligations and preferences while having fun along the way.

Varying Shades of Green Living

Adopting a green lifestyle means doing what you can, knowing that no one is perfect and we don’t have to try to be. Where it’s convenient or possible or fun or inspirational, do give it a bit of extra thought. This means thinking about how your choices impact the environment or about how you can better align your lifestyle with a more earth-friendly way of doing things. For example, a large family who drives an SUV can minimize daily waste by using reusable lunch bags. Recycling and replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents and driving a hybrid car are all to be considered light green lifestyle choices.

Darker green choices might include producing as much food as you can in a backyard garden and supporting local organic agriculture, minimizing use of a car by cycling or using mass transportation and cutting back on electricity use and adopting household alternative energy sources like solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling.

Going Green for the Kids

For many people, parenthood can foster a deeper desire to preserve resources for the kids. It’s easy to try to save the planet when you’re young and without children or a job. Form habits like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, taking shallow baths instead of showers and recycling.

It isn’t difficult to develop awareness with your young ones; for many, ensuring that the choices they make contribute to a brighter future for their children is enough inspiration to spur them on. When we lead by example, we soon reap the benefits of seeing our children turn off lights upon leaving a room, or picking up rubbish and placing them in the correct bin.

Going Green Mistakes Are Okay

There is no need to try to be perfect when it comes to going green. There are no mistakes. You do the best you can when you can, and when you can’t, you let it go and try to do better the next time. Start out small to avoid burnout, and also to bring consciousness to your everyday actions. Think about the impact of your behavior on the planet and you will find there are plenty of opportunities to cut waste each day.

Develop small habits such as purchasing reusable water bottles for everyone to bring to school and work each day, instead of buying plastic bottles or using plastic cups for the drinking fountain. Take the time to be organized; get your reusable shopping bags and put them in your car, plan your trips to the market and stick to the list of things you need if you can. If you slip into old routines at times, don’t be too hard on yourself – as long as you’re trying to make some changes, it’s alright.

Successfully Living Green

Finding support for your new lifestyle is vital for success, but remember to take it easy – the last thing you want is to end up sounding too preachy and scaring people away! Live by example and have fun with it. If you happen to have any eco friendly clothes or bags, flaunt them! When people take notice, proudly show off how much you know and share ideas on how they might be able to make a change for the green as well.

Ultimately, finding support, having fun, planning and pacing are the best way to bolster new habits. Make green fun. Ask yourself, ‘How green can I be?’ You don't have to sell your car and buy bicycles for the whole family tomorrow. But if you have kids, you may ask them which is more fun—riding in the car or going on a bike ride. It’s only us adults, with half-hour commutes, who find cars more fun. Stay focused on your goals and inspire others to make changes. In this way you’re sure to make an impact.

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