J500 Media and the Environment

To be green, or not to be green…. by bethd
June 26, 2009, 12:15 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 2

To be green, or not to be green….

You know I never thought of myself as a “green” person, but I do believe I have conservative behavior which could be considered behavior.  I only wash my clothes in cold water and only when I have a full load of laundry. I use high-efficiency light bulbs. I reuse newspaper for numerous purposes. I always turnout my lights and my power strips off. I’m pretty tolerant regarding the temperature at my house. I take short showers (most because I am always in a hurry). But to be honest I never had, or still have, any environmental motivation for these behaviors, I just try not being wasteful. And to that point, I belief this behavior has fiscal benefits in addition to environmental ones which is probably a greater motivator for me.

With that stated, I don’t believe I do a very good job at categorizing people as “green” or “not green”, which could be part of my struggle with “being green.” It shouldn’t be a label; it should be a lifestyle and a commitment, and furthermore the responsibility of the masses, not just these “green” people. On the Brian Lehrer Show from April 2007, guest Thomas Friedman was very adamant about this “green thing” not being a right-wing or left-wing issue, it’s going to take liberals, conservatives and everything in between.

So in a moment of self-reflection I asked myself, “Why don’t I do more to be ‘greener’?” It occurred to me I only do “green” stuff when it saved me money and/or caused me little to no inconvenience. So I guess I am what Jeff McIntire-Strasberg, editor and founder of Sustainablog, would categorize as “light green.” I don’t know if I’m content with that or not, but I do know I am not willing to pay double for organic food or purchase eco-friendly products not comparable to available counterparts. Why? For one thing—I am cheap when it comes to food and cosmetics and eating all USDA organic-food would really cut into my travel budget. Also, apparently I’m vain—because non-toxic hairspray just doesn’t work as well as the aerosol pollutants to which I became accustomed. 

Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green….”


I know, I am a bad person, but for whatever it’s worth I am honest and real, and hopefully that can be appreciated. And although many people would have trouble admitting it, they are probably much like me when it comes to “being green.” I thought I would do a couple Google searches to see what information is available to make “green” easier for me and those like me. I found some decent information I wanted to share with my readers.

The first article I found titled “Top 5 Green Products Not to Buy”comes from smartmoney.com (click for complete article). It outlines a few items in the electronics, food/wine and construction categories that have become victim to greenwashing marketing strategies. For example, “Organic” seafood: The “organic” label on fish at supermarkets and restaurants, is misleading because there’s no such thing. There is no USDA certification for seafood due to the number of uncontrollable variables, like water quality. Even farmed fish, like salmon, may require wild food sources — another disqualifier because that feed may have been exposed to pesticides and other pollutants.

The second article I found informative was “Buy Organic Without Breaking the Bank” (click for complete article). This is a great read because it points out some helpful, cost-saving tips. For example, many generics are beginning to offer organic products and grocery stores often have sales on organic produce because of the short shelf life—two things that make complete sense, but I never would have sought out.

I hope this information is as helpful for you as it was for me!

Beth Davis


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi Beth,

Your blog is the type of reaction I think many people feel towards being green. There are many ways people conserve energy but don’t always do it because they want to be green. People conserve energy because they are in a hurry, because it helps them save money or because they are lazy. I think a way we will all turn more green is if today’s energy bill passes the House (the Senate in the fall) I don’t think we’ll have as much trouble calling people green – everyone will have to be green if the bill is passed. Al Gore’s Twitter page (http://twitter.com/algore)and Web site has focused on this energy bill for months. Some components of the bill may mean higher energy bills for the U.S. citizen but it also forces local governments and large companies to reduce their energy consumption.

Passing legislation like today’s proposed bill will make your and my light green acts alot more heavy handed if you take into consideration potential future laws. Like you said, “It shouldn’t be a label; it should be a lifestyle and a commitment, and furthermore the responsibility of the masses, not just these “green” people.” With today’s bill, being green may become a responsibility of the masses and not just individual people.

Comment by christinewerem

Hey Christine:

Thank for your feedback—-and just in: the clean energy bill has passed the House! The vote was the vote was 219-212. I agree with you, some people will not be eco-responsible unless it’s mandated. Let’s be honest, I may not renew my car tags unless it was a law. That’s why it’s important to elect sound, intelligent and socially responsible public official. Senators and state representatives are tasked with making the best decisions for you, me, our neighbors and our children. They have to have everyone’s best interest in mind and heart.

MSNBC has a good recap of the bill. In case anyone’s reading—the clean energy bill highlights are below:

Bill basics
— Reduce greenhouse gases by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 through a cap-and-trade program.
— Limit emissions from major industrial sources. Emissions from agriculture would be excluded from the cap.
— Control carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and limiting six other greenhouse gases.
— Allow companies to meet emission-limiting targets by investing in offset projects such as tree planting and forest protection.
— Require electric utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their power from renewable sources such wind and solar energy by 2020, and require as much as 8 percent in energy efficiency savings.
— Impose tighter performance standards on new coal-fired power plants and provide $1 billion a year in development money for capturing carbon dioxide from such plants.
— Establish standards that require new buildings be 30 percent more energy efficient by 2012 and 50 percent more efficient by 2016.
— Protect consumers from rising energy costs by giving rebates and credits to low-income households.

Beth Davis

Comment by bethd

Hi Beth,
It’s been hard for me to become greener too, but I’m doing it in small steps I guess. Hopefully it’s making some sort of difference! I think the type of changes you mentioned, esp with regards to everyday behavior like doing laundry and taking shorter showers, makes a big impact over time, esp as more and more people do the same. I lean more towards buying green products that are convenient and affordable too. I recently switched to using Grab Green detergent because it fits both criteria for me. It comes in small packs that dissolve in water, almost like dishwashing packs. It literally takes a few seconds and there’s no sticky mess or need to lift a heavy detergent jug. My husband even used it when I was out of town and he was really surprised at how easy it was. The packaging itself is green because it’s in a small pouch instead of a big plastic jug like most detergent – less packaging waste and water waste. Definitely makes being green easier!

Comment by Elyse

I support your viewpoint. I think light green is a great thing because it is better than not green at all. I also think most people are varying shades of green…even Al Gore. If everyone does something and some people do more, then, we are well on our way to a better planet.

One of the things that has been left outside the debate on clean air and water is that on the way to a better, more ideal situation, we need to go through some middle ground. It is okay to celebrate the success of small steps.
Holly Eitel

Comment by hollyee

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