Filed under: J840 Week 2, Society + Media | Tags: green, Harris Interactive, Smithsonian, sustainability, Thoreau
My Walden Pond was the Pacific Ocean. Its salty imprint branded me for life as an environmentalist, but lately I have wondered if I pass muster in today’s definition of green.
A BBC World News America/The Harris Poll conducted just after Earth Day this year (http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/pubs/Harris_Poll_BBC_2009_04_24.pdf) showed good news. More than half of Americans are paying attention to environmental issues. The report talked positively about increases in recycling, buying locally and a myriad of small changes. Interestingly though, less than half of the people surveyed thought they were making sustainable changes in their lifestyle. This was down from last year’s survey by five percentage points.
“It might also be that the little everyday things people are doing are making a difference – but Americans don’t think they are enough to say they are making lifestyle changes,” reported the Harris poll press release.
I think this survey and New York Times article (“That Buzz in Your Ear Might Be Green Noise,” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/fashion/15green.html?_r=2) got it right. It is confusing to be green these days. Our hypercompetitive society has made a win-lose game out of walking gently on our planet.
My definition of being green harkens back to when I spent adolescent hours learning about the beach and the ocean. Green meant watching where you walked so you didn’t crush a habitat, packing out your litter, bringing your own water and eating as low as possible on the food chain.
My life is more complicated now, yet I think in the battle for our planet, it is the little steps that will add up to giant leaps. Robert Richardson did a good job of applying Thoreau in a Smithsonian magazine article. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Waldens_Ripple_Effect.html)
“Walden is a self-help book, perhaps the ultimate self-help book, urging us to show up for our own lives, to have the courage to find our own convictions and to try to live them out,” Richardson wrote.
I think allowing “green” to be different things to different people is essential.
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