J500 Media and the Environment

Green is the New Red, White, and Blue by mindeeforman

I had an experience a few months ago that really opened my eyes about just how far mainstream “going green” has become.

I regularly challenge my workplace to do better environmentally, and was horrified to walk into the cafeteria and see mostly foam and plastic dishware during a recent remodel. I tried to implement a better way and was told by the Powers That Be that it just wasn’t a priority at the moment.

I’m known as a pretty liberal environmentalist type, and was relaying this story to a friend of mine at work who’s a Republican but is always up for a good political discussion with me anyway. When I told him this story he said, “Wow, Mindee – way to be patriotic!”

Did I miss something? When did trying to be environmentally friendly become PATRIOTIC?!? And WOO HOO!! It’s about time…

This idea of green being patriotic has apparently been percolating for some time.

Author Thomas Friedman wrote about this in an article for the New York Times in 2006:

“[B]eing green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do.”

His 2007 interview with Time Magazine provides more food for thought:

Linguistics professor George Lakoff talks about framing the environmental protection issue in a way that appeals to both conservatives and liberals. I can think of no better way than making going green the most patriotic thing an American citizen can do.

-Mindee Forman


3 Comments so far
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Thanks for sharing your experience of seeing “green” as patriotic. I think we all agree that Americans are beginning to see the green movement in a new and different light and are realizing that our actions have consequences on the future of our nation. As globalization continues and we become more and more connected with other countries around the world, how do you think people’s “green” perceptions will change? Do you think Americans will begin to think of climate change in a more global sense and demand more international regulations or do you think we’ll keep things on our home turf and frame it as a national issue?

Comment by michellec1

That’s a very good question, Michelle… I think since Europe is about a generation ahead of us in terms of “greenness” it would be very presumptuous of us to try to impose guidelines on THEM. (Not that we’ve been hindered by details like that in the past, but one would hope we might actually lean from our past hubris…)

A friend of mine from Germany recently told a story about how it’s a law there to turn off your car if you get stuck in a traffic jam. If you don’t (and this happened to his wife), someone from another car will come up to you and say, “What’s wrong with you? We’re in a traffic jam – turn your car off!!” If ONLY we could get to that point…

I’m reminded of a verse in the Bible, about how we should remove the boulder from our own eye before removing the speck from our neighbor’s eye… (Matthew 7:3-5) And our boulder is pretty big at this point.

Comment by mindeeforman

At FH, earlier this year we replaced all of our styrofoam cups, paper plates and plastic utensils with glasses, silverware, etc. There was some push-back and grumbling but that was quickly alleviated during a staff meeting when we were all informed that doing so saves us at least $500 a month in expenses. Go figure.

Your patriotism example is at once funny and surprising to me as well. In our CEP project, Cheri, Michelle M. and I have been working to better understand Kansas farmers’ value perceptions of the “going green” movement. This week a BP representative working with them in the field advised me that a lot of them are pro-America and so they find wind power to be a pro-America reaction to our reliance on foreign oil. I’d say this is yet another way that green is the new red, white and blue.

Comment by lizhawks

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