Eco-friendly living can’t be fluffed off as a passing fancy anymore. These days, it is considered a full-on lifestyle. There are, however, different levels of commitment to green living. From my experience, there seem to be three categories that most people fall into. Since it’s Earth Day, let’s have a look, shall we?
Light Green people are those who haven’t fully committed to green living, but they feel they’re making an effort, and a difference.
Light Greens drive hybrid cars, they recycle and they won’t run a dishwasher unless it’s full. However, their kids leave lights on all over the house and their air conditioning runs without interruption from May to September.
My family is Light Green. I’ve tried to make us greener, but some things just won’t fly. For example, I put a moratorium on paper towel use. Everybody had a fit, but I remained steadfast. I bought a boatload of ShamWow cloths (as seen on TV) and instructed my family to use them in place of paper towels. Then one day, my husband hired a cleaning company to give the inside of our barn a good going over. When the crew arrived, they explained that they didn’t bring rags (I know, it’s a head-scratcher). So my husband gave them all of my ShamWows and they never gave them back. I think the whole thing was a set-up, but I’ve never been able to prove it.
Deep Green people are serious about the eco-friendly lifestyle. They do it properly and without fanfare.
My friends Christian and Debra exemplify the Deep Green couple. They both drive hybrids (hers plugs in), they built their house with sustainable materials, chose a floor plan designed to maximize the efficiency of their heating and cooling systems, they have solar panels on their the roof (I’ve watched their electric meter run backwards as they add energy to the grid) and they belong to an organic food co-op. Incidentally, they are both very attractive (which may or may not have anything to do with their lifestyle, but I just thought I’d mention it).
Here’s the best part about Debra and Christian: they don’t cram their philosophy down anybody else’s throat and they don’t think being green makes them “special.” It’s just the way they live. If you want to ask them about it, they will happily discuss how and why they do what they do. Otherwise, they have plenty of other interesting things to talk about.
Perhaps the most confounding of all green groups are those I classify as Dirty Green.
Dirty Greens are the most vocal about pollution, filth and the decay of our environment. Yet, their homes are smelly, sticky, greasy and grimy. Why? They don’t “believe” in cleaning products. Huh? They also do not “believe” in shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste. Who knew there was dogma attached to shampoo?
Dirty Greens are to be avoided at social gatherings and are never to be invited as houseguests. At parties, they will take time out from harassing the hostess about using disposable tableware, to corner you with a lecture about global warming. The first thing they’ll do is ask you what you drive. Unless you say “a horse and buggy” or “I walk everywhere – barefoot,” you will play right into their clammy hands. Then they’ll grill you about your eco-related habits, and wince as you pop a pig-in-a-blanket in your mouth. “Do you have any idea what industrial pig farming is doing to the planet? Have you ever stopped to think about the sewage generated by a pig farm?! Do you have any idea what that thing is doing to your body? Don’t you care about consuming something so toxic to the environment?…” Their comments, opinions, know-it-all-isms and unsolicited advice will be endless.
If a Dirty Green waylays you, here are two exit strategies: 1) Look at your watch and excuse yourself because it’s time to take your digestive enzymes, or 2) Pretend you don’t speak their language (which probably isn’t too far from the truth, in a manner of speaking).
As houseguests, they are a nightmare. They will bring their dog without asking. They will let it soil your lawn but not clean it up because “it’s good for the environment.” They do not flush toilets. They will bring their own food and refuse to eat any of your pasteurized, processed or farmed-raised groceries (basically everything you’ve bought in anticipation of their arrival). No matter how hard you try please them, you’ll be a loser. That quiche you whipped up, with organic cage-free eggs and whole-wheat crust, will fall short because you prepared the dough with hydrogenated Crisco. And you can forget about serving those gluten-free bagels unless you have wild-caught Pacific coast lox and dairy-free cream cheese (an oxymoron, if ever there was one).
Under the guise of a benevolent gesture, they will offer to do the cooking. Don’t fall into that trap, or you’ll be eating a mixture of brown rice, seaweed and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with kale juice to choke it all down. There is not enough Beano on the planet to handle the “pollution” that menu will produce.
By the time they go home, three things will have transpired: you will hate yourself for “poisoning” your children with name brand breakfast cereals; you will feel single-handedly responsible for punching a hole in the ozone because you dust with Pledge; you will be bloated.
I have a suspicion about the Dirty Greens. Does it seem to anybody else that they use ecology as a cover-up for bizarre food quirks, poor personal hygiene, and zero interest in housework? If they’re so concerned about cleaning up the environment, may I suggest they start with their own hair?
If you’re Light Green or Dirty Green, we’ve got plenty of room for improvement. Here are some tips…
– Cleaning Products: There are hundreds of eco-friendly solutions on the market to make your house sparkle naturally. I like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products. They come in 13 fresh fragrances, are Earth-friendly, and are not tested on animals. Another great brand is Method. Both are reasonably priced and available at most supermarkets.
– Household Supplies: The ideal is to create as little waste as possible, but if you haven’t mastered that yet, at least you can use the most biodegradable and recyclable products you can find. As part of their extensive, eco-friendly line, Seventh Generation offers recycled paper products like toilet paper, napkins, paper towel and trash bags.
– Pet Care: You can pick up your dog’s poo (to the relief of your neighbors) and be green at the same time, with biodegradable dog waste bags. There are many brands available and they’re easy to find online. If you’d like your dog’s “business” to make a statement, PetOutSide makes waste bags in a variety of snazzy colors and jazzy prints. After all, why be dull?
– Personal Care: If minimal packaging is what you’re looking for, a multi-tasking cleansing bar might be just the ticket. You can use it to wash yourself from head to toe. J.R. Liggett’s offers a variety of bars (including one for your dog!). Looking for a product that does even more? Nobody beats Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile soaps that will wash you hair, body, bathroom, laundry, car, etc. As for natural and organic deodorants and toothpastes, they are available at any health food store or pharmacy. Please, go explore those (I’m talking to you Dirty Greens).
This is just a short list of options to help you achieve a Deep Green lifestyle, without much ado or breaking your budget. And remember to recycle! If you’re unsure of your town’s recycling policies, call your local sanitation department. For general recycling guidelines, visit Recycle Now for lots of information and ideas.
Since today is designated to celebrate the mother ship, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to review your own efforts to respect and care for her. Leave a comment below and tell me: What shade of green are you?