Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is "Green"?

What is "being green" to you? I used to think that "being green" was all about the environment, and stopping some huge catastrophe from ending civilization as we know it. Consequently I wasn't very interested in being a part of it - "Global Warming" seemed to be a little too sensationalist for me to really take it seriously.

However, I have always agreed that we need to be responsible about the way we handle earth's resources. Global warming or not; acid rain, deforestation, landfills, oil spills etc are all real issues that nobody can debate. I recycled, saved electricity and water, used reusable shopping bags and avoided companies that were the most obvious and well reported evils. But that was all, and in part I only did it because it saved me money.

Years later while learning about healthy eating I started to do things like go to the local farmer's market to find fresher produce, eat organic food when it was affordable, and toyed with the idea of using "green" cleaners when they became easily available. They all seemed like sensible, common sense ideas.

At the time eating organic was about the higher nutrition content, the better taste and the lack of wax on the skin. Decisions were still made for myself only, I'm not sure I was even aware that they could have much knock-on effect, if I was it certainly was not something I really thought about. But the more I learned, the more I learned about health in general, including the connection between food, environment and health, especially the effects of herbicides and pesticides. Eating organic soon became about avoiding these toxins and supporting the farmers that did not use them.

Choosing safer cosmetics was the next logical step, but it was very difficult to find any product that did not have something questionable in it, so I started making my own. This led to finally using non toxic cleaners at home, which in turn reminded me of all the things my mother taught me growing up, including the use of a clothes line. It is very true - previous generations were "green" without thinking about it; waste was not an option.

Having already accidentally taken many steps towards living a more environmentally friendly life, I finally started being open to the idea of doing it deliberately! Instead of skipping over articles about green living, I started to seek them out. What I discovered was an even deeper association between food and human rights than I ever thought possible. I had been aware for a while that they were strongly connected, but the realization that the simplest of day to day actions can have a deep and almost immediate impact on someone halfway across the planet is profound.

With this knowledge, I strive to be ever more conscious in making decisions. Eating local and seasonal has been added to the requirement of organic, but not for a worry over fossil fuels, rather a concern for people. Our future is very dependent on the health of our planet, not in an earth shattering cataclysm, but a slow adulteration of our very humanity. Sustainable food sustains people, human rights and equality.

Today, my viewpoint is that "being green" is not really about the environment at all. It is more about us, our future on this planet and our quality of life while we are here. This journey continues to remind me that doing something is always better than doing nothing, and that baby steps really do make a difference.

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