Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Damaging Extremes of Going Green

While trying to live in an as environmentally friendly way as possible is a good thing, going green doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stress over everything you’re not doing; taking things to extremes can be more damaging than it’s worth.

These days we’re told that we should be driving hybrid cars, using ‘A’ rated electrical appliances and heating our homes via solar panels or wind turbines. We should all have water butts installed, preferably one that has our grey water rerouted into it and our gardens should be turned over to the production of vegetables.

Now while all of those things are good, stressing over the ones we’re not doing isn’t going to change anything and actually doing them could cause us further problems. Is there any point to getting ourselves into debt in order to switch out our perfectly usable fridges, cookers and washers or exchange our not particularly environmentally friendly old banger for a brand new hybrid car? Surely it’s better we wait until we need to change these things rather than feeling guilty because we haven’t?

Digging over the garden and turning it into a vegetable plot may come easy to some but that doesn’t mean we can all do it at the drop of a hat. Not all of us have the ability to garden on that kind of scale and paying somebody to come in and ‘landscape’ it would mean more paying out and the possibility of even more debt. The same goes for installing grey water channelling, solar panels and the rest.

Of course, if somebody went out and bought a huge 4x4 to drive around town in rather than buying something more environmentally friendly then that would be thoughtless but I'm talking about those who have a green conscience and who really do want to make a difference here.

What’s important, in my opinion, is that we focus on the things we are able to do and know that no matter how small they are compared to what some others are doing, we’re doing our bit to help the planet sustain life as we know it whilst improving the quality of our own and others' lives.

If or when the time comes that we can do more, so be it, but none of us can do more than we’re able. And stress is never a good thing.

Sharon J


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Anonymous said...

Oh I've missed your posts, such a great one!

I find it really funny that the middle class masses need to spend to go green, like when they all went out and spent money on designer reuseable bags, yet they probably had bags they could use @ home!

Sharon J said...

You're back! Yay!

I agree with what you're saying about the middle classes. I wrote a post about green yuppies once but that was probably before you started visiting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Many of the 'green' blogs I've read recently and magazines too(and I won't read again)seem to emphasize buying green. Many of the items shown are extremely expensive - a wood coffee table that was a piece of tree trunk stripped of bark and polished for just $3500 - instead of refinishing a wood coffee table for about $20. In this economic climate who has all that money to spend without stressing about it?

What ever happened to reuse, repurpose, refinish, rethink, recycle or as in the old New England saying : Use it up, make it do or do without!! Bellen

Galanthus said...

I wholeheartedly agree that we should do what we can and build a greener lifestyle over time and within our means. I think we do sometimes need to spend a little money to do this, but we also need to buy mindfully, if you see what I mean. For me, it isn't about not buying things: it's about buying only what I really need and valuing those possessions appropriately.

It certainly isn't always easy being green. Not only do we have to try to be green, but we also have to try to separate green truths from green myths. That's one I do obsess over a bit, if I'm not careful. What's important is that we try. The more people make small green changes the better.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, it's the small changes that lead to big change, but it's got to be achievable to be doable!

Sharon J said...

@ Anonymous. I know what you mean, I've seen plenty of that kind of advertising too but I guess there will always be somebody trying to cash in on 'doing the right thing'. I personally wouldn't even consider buying their stuff.

@ Galanthus. I hear you re the green myths. It isn't easy but as long as we try that's at least better than nothing :)

@ apieceofwood. You're right. The small changes do indeed lead to the bigger ones :)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you!

When I first started blogging I got a bit paranoid thinking I wasn't doing enough green stuff but now I've come to realise that baby steps are the way to go. When I need to replace something I will go for a greener alternative and I'm trying to be greener in my everyday actions. These all add up.

Great topic again Sharon!

WebSmith said...

I'm wondering how long it takes by occasionally using a green appliance to offset the carbon that was generated during their manufacture. Will this happen during the life of the appliance?

This leads me to wonder how much of this is a marketing ploy to get us to throw away perfectly good stuff and buy new stuff adding to our pile of non-biodegradable waste while taking our money.

Is the environment really winning here or is it the appliance manufacturers and their suppliers who are reaping the benefit? How much oil goes into the manufacture of these things?

Barbara said...

There's a magazine here in
Australia called G that annoys me
on every level (even the hip one
letter title!). It's aimed at
trendy cashed-up twenty-somethings
who want to pretend to be greenies
and, my god, I have never seen so
many ads in one publication in
my life! The whole premise seems
to be that all you have do to save
the enviroment (and ease your
guilt about your wasteful,
consumerist life) is to buy, buy,
buy. Im sure there's something like
in the UK and probably everywhere
else too.

Sharon J said...

@ mylifemakeoverjourney. I very much doubt you were alone in your paranoia and 'green' advertising is, IMO, designed to make us feel guilty for not buying their products.

@ Websmith. You have a very good point there. Of course, if the fridge breaks down and there's no choice but to buy a new one I'd go for the greenest alternative but yes, they do try to seduce us into thinking that we ought to dash out and buy these things RIGHT NOW or be ashamed for not 'saving the planet'.

@ Barbara. I'm sure there is a similar magazine here although I haven't seen one (haven't looked for one and had I seen it I wouldn't want to buy it). The band wagon rolls on.

dok said...

In my own quest for simplicity, this is a wonderful find! Paul is an inspiration. Love your sensible approach...thanks!

I invite you to visit IdeasforGoingGreen

I think you'll like it.

Sharon J said...

Hi Dok. Welcome to my blog - I'm glad you're finding it useful. I've had a look at your page - it's good to see that you're doing your bit for the environment :)