Taking Green Baby Steps

I’m sure I don’t need to start by ask­ing some­thing like, “have you noticed how every­thing seems to be green or going green these days?”  Green is no longer just a col­or.  It’s a move­ment, belief sys­tem, and set of actions.  It’s every­where.  It’s on prod­ucts at the store, com­mer­cials, books, and blogs.

It real­ly seems like a good idea.  Take bet­ter care of the earth.  Choose prod­ucts that are bet­ter for us.  Use few­er resources.  The thing that I’ve been notic­ing late­ly about going green is that there are a few “low hang­ing fruit” actions that my fam­i­ly can take, but after that I start to get con­fused and over­whelmed.  Bisphe­nol A, free rad­i­cals, hor­mone dis­rup­tors, nanopar­ti­cles, car­bon foot­print, methane, com­post­ing, sus­tain­able, loca­vore, and green wash­ing are all terms that come up often in my search for infor­ma­tion on green liv­ing.

We have made some changes which are a reflec­tion of our choice to become more con­scious of our impact on the envi­ron­ment, those around us, and even our own bod­ies.  We drink from water bot­tles instead of buy­ing bot­tled water.  We cloth dia­per.  We use cloth nap­kins.  We use some alter­na­tive clean­ing meth­ods.  We are start­ing to buy prod­ucts that are made by com­pa­nies with mis­sion state­ments (and prac­tices) that reflect our views.  Dur­ing the sum­mer grow­ing sea­son we attempt to buy as much local pro­duce as we can at our farmer’s mar­ket and by join­ing a CSA.  When we were home­own­ers we were com­post­ing.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, for as many earth-friend­ly choic­es as we make, I am sure there are 10 that are not very earth friend­ly.

What I would like is a 1–2-3 guide.  First, do this.  Then, get rid of that.  Final­ly, once you’ve fol­lowed our easy to under­stand 81-step pro­gram, you are green!  Some­thing like that any­way.  I asked about this on twit­ter a lit­tle while ago, and I got a cou­ple rec­om­men­da­tions for sites and a book.  There are some days where I feel like we do pret­ty well.  Then, there are some days when I feel like we are the un-green­est fam­i­ly in our town.

Late­ly, some of the things that have been on my mind are:

  • Is it bet­ter to buy a green-washed prod­uct than a reg­u­lar main­stream prod­uct if a more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly option isn’t avail­able?  Is that let­ting the green wash­ing com­pa­ny off the hook or is it pos­si­ble it’s slight­ly bet­ter than the “reg­u­lar” prod­uct?
  • If I buy a green prod­uct off a web­site because a bet­ter local option isn’t avail­able, how do I fac­tor in the resources and ener­gy nec­es­sary to get that prod­uct to me?
  • Is an organ­ic prod­uct from South Africa “bet­ter” (and how is bet­ter defined?) than buy­ing a non-organ­ic prod­uct from Chile or Mex­i­co?

My list goes on, but I think you get the idea.  I have been think­ing late­ly that it might just be best to pick one group of prod­ucts and one pri­or­i­ty and work on that.  For exam­ple, maybe I should focus on clean­ing prod­ucts and switch­ing our cur­rent prod­ucts to ones that are less harm­ful to us.  Anoth­er option would be to focus on what we eat and fig­ure out which foods and which com­pa­nies are both sus­tain­able and good choic­es for our fam­i­ly to con­sume.  I’m not sure though.  I sup­pose the idea is to con­tin­ue in the process what­ev­er deci­sion I make.  Choose some­thing to work on, learn about, etc. and keep on going.