Activism green life

Published on January 5th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


The Green Life: Top 5 Green Life Ingredients

green life

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:

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:

  1. 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);
  2. 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

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Jess

    Hi, I am a primary school teacher and have stumbled upon your website whilests teaching 8year olds about saving the planet and how they can make a difference. I have found, although very wordy in parts, your materials very accessible for primary age children. Apart from the above swear word ‘bastard’ when refering to ways to make a change, i think I will be using this website soley to teach about how the next generation van make change. Thank you for such a great educational resource.

    • Zachary Shahan

      Thanks!! :D

  • Coeconut

    “Run for office,” is a very interesting and unique proposition. It really hits the root of the problem when it comes to a lack of sustainable practices!

    • Zachary Shahan

      Thanks. Yes, outside the norm, but so important.

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  • C. L. Dodgson

    on organic food..

    The legal definition of “organic” is that the food was not grown using synthetic pesticides. Organic pesticides can be used, even though there are some organic pesticides that could harm the environment, and some synthetic pesticides that wouldn’t, or vice versa. Same with GMO- there are some GMO’s that harm the environment, and some that don’t, and non-GMOs that harm the environment, and some that don’t.

    What the FDA really needs to do is classify foods and pesticides based on whether they harm the environment, consumers, and/or workers, not whether they fall into a particular category of “natural” or “organic” or “non-GMO”. Those distinctions don’t help people make better choices.

    • Zachary Shahan

      I don’t disagree with you.

    • Anonomouse

      I heard “organic” legally merely meant “carbon-based” from the “organic chemistry” field?
      Asphalt, plastic bags, paper, lady-bugs, and warship-grade steel, are all “organic” because they all have carbon.

  • Your Green City

    The five points are truly the most important ones a person can really change in his life. Even though meat overconsumption and waste is a big problem I wouldn’t agree becoming a vegan or vegetarian. From our natural diet we humans are not exclusively made for only eating vegetables, fruits and wheat.

    • Zachary Shahan
      • Anonomouse

        No, it isn’t.
        1: Vegan/vegetarian came from the ’60′s Hippy culture. Animal rights and environmental ethics, factory farming were rather a new thing; ergo, animal rights first came on the scene. BUT, hippy culture won! We now have: free-range, organic, local, sustainable/regenerative caught, pasture fed… PETA, EPA, NWF, WWF… etc.
        2: So, that scores animal rights; as for “healthier” meme of militant vegan/vegetarians? Wrong again unless you don’t like western medicine and prefer to pray away your cancer with tai chi and drums. (Sadly, my aunt; so I know people like this exist.); Prof. Loren Cordain U of CO, Fort Collins; Dr. Robb Wolf, former research biochemist, studied under Cordain. It being western medicine, who is still looking for a cure for cancer and AIDS, your amethyst and Ohm treatment sounds great, it just has to undergo cohort study and peer-review along with green-tea, happy thoughts, angels, astrology, and chemo/radiation therapies. Prepare to be saddened by the news.
        3: As for “too expensive”, that is your lack of basic math; its called a J-Curve. The more who buy, the more money Mr. & Mrs. Mom and Pop Shop will be able to spend on increasing the size of the operation, thereby cutting costs to you. Plotted on a graph, the line, would sort of look like an airplane coming for a landing, getting closer and closer to the X-axis, like the shape of a “lazy-J”.
        Enjoy being bloated, having oily skin, apathetic, bad-sleep, diabetic, denying the reason you have canine teeth in upper and lower jaw, and how you cant do basic rhetorical debate because you simply cant keep up. More than half the food you eat, goes to powering your brain. You desperately need animal protein in order to make new neuron connections; and there is NOTHING you can do about changing that short of turning yourself into a GMO, making chlorophyll, “eating” sunlight… and the jury is still deliberating on GMO side-effects; they haven’t been around enough to conclusively prove pro-/anti- stance yet.
        - Mr. Rudolph

  • Skylights

    The article is more on reminding our self because we already encounter most of them. The number one is not yet feasible in our place because of the current cost of the technology.  I agree on buying local for food or better plant our own food. I still don’t agree on going vegan. I still follow the food pyramid.

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  • Wendy Smith

    Yes, not eating a lot of beef would help the planet.  However, my son is vegetarian; I can’t be vegetarian because I am lactose intolerant, I need meat for nutrional reasons, since milk can’t be a major part of my diet.  Rather than be vegan or vegetarian, I see that eating other kinds of meat is an answer.  When will someone invent “befe,” a posited meat that tastes just like beef, but is actually mutton, lamb, or horse (horse meat is quite delicious — I had opportunites to eat some of its dishes when I lived in France).  Since they seem to pre-sauce up our meat in the stores anyway, why not make it taste like “befe”?  Then we could all be perfectly satisfied.

    • Zachary Shahan

      I understand your concerns, but there’s really no reason you couldn’t be vegan. Carl Lewis (yes, Athlete of the Century last century) was vegan while winning his many gold medals. Plenty of other top athletes are as well. If you need information on any specific part of that, I’m happy to help.

      • Wren Paasch

        I’m not saying that her being lactose intolerant means that she can’t be vegan (being vegan wouldn’t include lactose, after all), but not everyone can healthfully be vegan or vegetarian. I was a strict vegetarian-borderline-vegan for a decade, and I was making myself really ill in the process. I followed all the nutritional advice, read lots of books, consulted with PCRM, etc., etc. I really, really wanted to make it work. Finally after years of arguing with my doc I assented to try a little fish, and see if it made a difference. I felt so markedly better, it didn’t take long before I saw what I had been doing to myself and gave it up. I am a thousand times healthier now. Yes, there are plenty of folks that can be very healthy on a vegan or vegetarian diet, but some of us have conditions that make our needs different than other folks. So now I try to go with local, grass-fed, humanely raised meat sources and wild-caught fish (I even discovered that Whole Foods has a rating system in place for this if you shop there). Nutrition science is really still in its infancy, as are many other facets of the human body and health; I hesitate to issue any blanket advice for everyone when every body is different. If it works for you, fab. But it really doesn’t work for everyone.

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  • contrea7

    Hello, you forgot the BIG problem of over-population and the big taboo it is, so almost nobody dare to speak about it, so it’s really 2 things : life style and how many people! For that last one, we must encourage a worldwide contraception effort! Interesting things for many government it’s not a problem to speak about weapons and buy them for astronomical prices, but a worldwide concerted free-willed contraception effort could reach the same security targets at 1% of the weapon cost, but … amazingly this view of security is taboo

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