There was a really interesting article on NPR Marketplace this evening titled “Is an Enviromaniac Loose in Your Office?” Some of the people at my last place of employment would probably answer, “YES”. Listening to the article, I found myself laughing out loud at the beginning and then furling my brow at the end saying “I wasn’t that bad, was I?” The article is interesting for a couple of reasons:
1. It is funny – I related to a lot of the commentary at the beginning of the article. After starting the Green Team at my last place of employment I did find myself pulling water bottles out of the trash and breaking down boxes to be recycled. Once you get started recycling, it starts to affect you. For instance, my neighbor works at Dinner By Design (a place that has a menu of meals you can cook at the shop, take home and freeze, and eat nights in the future). The place didn’t recycle anything, and most of the “waste” was a recoverable material. She now brings everything home and puts it out with her household recycling. Between her work recycling and all of the recycling that Amanda and I bring home from the youth on Sunday nights, we have quite a mound of recycling on Monday morning for the drivers to pick up.
2. It is truthful – The response to the Green movement is summed up by two camps of people, “those who consider bottled water a civil right [and] those who see it as a crime against humanity”. After the “Dump the Pump” day at work, I encountered a lot of people that won’t take public transportation or carpool because they can’t give up the freedom that their automobile affords them. There are many other examples, but back to the quote. Both camps are a little crazy. Like driving your own car, bottled water is convenient, and has its place as. The bottles are portable and a much healthier alternative in vending machines than any of the garbage made from high fructose corn syrup. On the other hand, most people blindly shell out big dollars for “bottled water” or a lot of gas just to drive themselves. It is no different than tap water in most US cities (as a matter of fact it IS tap water from most US cities). It’s a waste of money especially when we integrate it into our daily lives and elevate it to “ipod” status. Plus, the bottles really are a nuisance. Go to any kids sporting event and look at the “trash” as you leave. It’s mostly #1 plastic bottles – a recoverable material.
3. It reflects the growing frustration that many green koolaid drinkers feel – It is easy to get consumed by your movement (and this applies to any movement). The part in the article where the girl quit trying to inspire with Ghandi quotes and started ridiculing those that don’t follow the Green Rules is a great example. I know I had inclinations to do the same at times. Luckily, I had a few friends that saw me going into the right half-plane and told me to relax a little. You have to realize that you can’t change a culture overnight. There are going to be those that do things out of a labor of love. Some will follow just because they respect you and see some of the benefits. In the end, for green options to catch on, an infrastructure must be set up for it to make life more efficient. Otherwise it taxes peoples already busy schedules and it won’t be sustainable.
4. It highlights everything wrong with the marketed Green Movement – I read an article talking about the new Green-snobbery that is occurring in the suburbs. “Did you see the Jones’ new Hybrid vehicle? What are they trying to prove?” Even in going green the market treats us like consumers and wants us to purchase our way to a greener lifestyle. Buy the more efficient car, buy solar panels, buy all new energy star appliances, buy, buy, buy. The first question we should ask is “How can I use less energy?” The first step should be a little sacrifice, not more debt. Early adopters for green technologies are needed, but we should first look to reducing our needs- it goes back to the entitlement issue. Plus if you purchase your way to a greener life, it has the potential to become a fad. “What? You can’t afford to be green? You must be poor.” What about the lower middle class family that is has no room in their budget to cope with higher gas prices, higher energy prices, and higher food prices. It’s awfully arrogant to try to guilt these people into purchasing green just to fit in.
I set a goal with this blog to stay out of the rant world. I know this post bumped up against the rant-curb but hopefully I kept it between the discussion-lines.
Do you have an enviromaniac at work?