Truth be told, I kind of hate the phrase. I generally think “being green” should be reserved for Kermit the Frog and no one else. It strikes me as confusing and gimmicky. Unfortunately, it also seems like something that we might be stuck with for a while yet, so we might as well try to parse what it means.
For myself, I define being green as having as little negative impact on the planet as I can reasonably manage. But if I’m honest, in my day-to-day life, “being green,” is less about being something and more about doing something: making active choices to change the way that I consume energy, dispose of waste, purchase products and food, and interact with the planet.
The “green” choice is often not the easy choice. In my experience, being green has sometimes also meant being a little bit uncomfortable. Is cleaning up a spill with super-absorbent paper towels easier than wiping it up with a cloth that then needs to be washed and dried and folded up somewhere? Kinda. Does paying more for electricity that I know is renewable mean that I have to forgo brunch out sometimes? Definitely. Does not using air conditioning in the summer make for some pretty uncomfortable nights? Without a doubt. But I also get inspired by a good challenge. To me, the thrill of knowing that I composted 10 pounds of food waste that will be used to amend soil in gardens is kind of thrilling. Knowing that I’ve never once purchased a roll of paper towels for my own home, well I know it’s a small thing, but that feels pretty good, too.
The particular sacrifices or changes that individual households make to live so-called greener lives can look pretty different. For one family, being green might mean making the switch from plastic to paper grocery bags while for another it means installing solar panels and a composting toilet. In my view, any amount of mindfulness about our impact on the planet is a step in the right direction. The truth is, there’s always something more we can be doing. That idea can seem daunting, but I think it’s also kind of energizing. Every day is a new challenge for making our planet a healthier place.