J500 Media and the Environment

Green Enough Should Be Good Enough by hollyee
June 26, 2009, 12:05 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 2, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

leo carillo state beach
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.
–Holly Eitel


4 Comments so far
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You bring up an important point. When people feel helpless or ineffective, they shut down. As your New York Times article says, “green buzz” overwhelms, and I think the hypercriticism of every green option strips a budding green effort of its altruism. And for long-lasting change, this is a dangling carrot we can’t lose.

Have you ever run into “green fatigue” with family, friends or colleagues? Ever been a victim yourself?

Cheri L.

Comment by CheriL

What I find in my business and social circles is a desire to “be green” but a lack of understand as to what to do beyond recycling and turning off the lights. That’s why I thought the Harris Poll was so interesting. It reflects a bit what my antedotal findings reveal–that people want to take steps but don’t think they are.

It is interesting to compare KC to my time in California a couple weeks ago. I see lots more “greenlash” there, and I think it is because there is judgement attached to how much people take steps to help the environment.
Holly Eitel

Comment by hollyee

Hey Holly!
I think you and I grew up in the same “place” when it comes to daily care of those things around us. And, you’re right, allowing green to be different for everyone is probably the best way to get it all done.
I’ve read so many varying opinions in the last couple days about why people make environmental choices, but your blog reminded me of how I learned to care about the ocean, animals and the earth when I was a kid from my family.
Maybe childhood is where the some of the most important impressions about these issues are made?

ps.I am particularly interested in where you took your shot of the ocean. It reminds me of my Walden, Bodega Bay, CA. Are you from Northern CA, too?

Carrie S

Comment by carrieshoptaw

Love Bodega Bay!! My best friend was married there. The picture I posted was from Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu, Calif. The bay pictured was featured in the Gidget movies (before all our times!)and several other movies.

I do think childhood and wonderment of the outdoors are keys to “saving” the Earth. Our speaker yesterday said that the majority of the interest from their action group was around wildlife. I do think people are facinated by animals, and learning about them and trying to view them is a great platform for understanding the importance of habitat and conservation.
Holly Eitel

Comment by hollyee

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