For anyone who really wants to green their life, really wants to, I think there are 5 basic requirements… or, to make them sound nicer, we’ll call them ingredients.
Can you live a ‘green’ life without one of these? Well, yeah, but maybe not THE Green Life. Think of it like this: you need some basic ingredients to make a pizza — pizza dough, tomato sauce, and cheese (note that you can use non-dairy cheese, of course). Without one of these ingredients, you can call what you make a pizza, but is it really a pizza?
So, what are the 5 ingredients for The Green Life?
The Big 3
The first three involve things you do every day. Everyday activities have a profoundly stronger impact than once-in-awhile activities. That may be obvious, but it seems like we spend a lot of time talking about once-in-awhile things (clothes, furniture, kitchenware, laundry detergent) when talking about going green.
If you look at the top 3 contributors to global warming and climate change, they are undoubtedly transportation, electricity, and food (though, the order varies based on the assumptions and the location).
So, the top 3 things you can green, in no particular order, are:
- your electricity supply — by going solar; using small-scale wind turbines; paying for renewable energy instead of dirty energy from your electricity company; using small hydro; or perhaps some other, obscure option that I’ve left out;
- your transportation — by bicycling, walking, using transit, traveling by train, using an electric vehicle (especially a solar-powered one), or carpooling;
- your food — while nothing relatively mainstream is greener than going vegan (or at least vegetarian), eating local, eating organic, buying food in bulk, and avoiding unnecessary packaging whenever possible are some other obvious ways to green your body’s fuel. (Even Mike Tyson has gone vegan — don’t you think you can do something along those lines?!) With perhaps 51% or more of greenhouse gas emissions coming from livestock production, this is a pretty hard one to avoid if you are serious about tackling global warming (& you know you should be).
Now, while those are the biggies in your personal life, there’s still something missing….
2 More Truly Big Ones
Two more biggies involve your role in society. “No man is an island,” and we have societal influence and duties, all the more so in a democracy (or, ahem, a representative democracy or democratic republic).
Our world is governed by us. If we aren’t doing any governing, we aren’t doing our duty. And, of course, if we leave this governing for others, the question becomes, “who have we left it to?” — I think you can guess the answer to that one.
What kind of governing must we do? We should keep ourselves informed, know who the heck we’re voting for when we vote (know what they’ve voted for in the past or worked on in the past), vote, engage in political discussions and town hall meetings, and inform others of important matters and opportunities.
Sound like a lot? Well, it’s that or let a small minority of the population govern our country for their own benefit.
… So, finally, you long-winded bastard, what are the next 2?
So, the big two here are:
- run for office, or help those out who are running for or are in office and have a clear understanding of how the environment works (combined with a strong inclination towards ensuring it remains livable and healthy, of course);
- take direct action — it’s the most powerful way to influence those in office, no matter what their understanding of environmental issues happens to be.
Image: World on hands via shutterstock
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on your favorite social network, go to: zacharyshahan.com