Where is the spirit of the red, white, and blue in this country? Everything seems to be painted black and white these days. You’re either with the 1% or the 99%. You’re either liberal or conservative. You’re young or old. You either get it, or you don’t. And we’ve stopped considering alternate views, instead commiserating with our respective compatriots in our clearly defined groups.
But being a mindful consumer, living green, considering how your actions affect the Earth and other people – this is not and should not be considered a political statement or affiliation. I don’t consider myself politically active, however I vote. And I consider that every dollar I spend or avoid spending is also voting. But I’m not living or preaching “liberal” or “conservative” views. They’re just my views!
So when I received a comment on our blog from a person who does consider himself conservative, and also thinks sustainable living is a good idea, I was intrigued.
I started thinking about earth care and conservation a few years ago and have made much of it a part of my lifestyle – I wrote a piece on a wee-in-the-life snapshot of how easy green living can be and would love for you to read and comment on it.
(Jones, David. Gone Green: A Week in the Life of a Conservative Environmentalist:A fun look at how easy it is to live “green” [Internet]. Version 2. Knol. 2011 Jul 9. Available from: .)
As Dave writes, you don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to live a sustainable lifestyle; some things just make sense. While he overlooks the animal rights and health affects of eating at the golden arches, his mention illustrates that it’s not black and white, either/or. What do you think?
Since Knol is being discontinued in 2012, I’ve copied the entire article below.
Gone Green: A Week in the Life of a Conservative Environmentalist
A fun look at how easy it is to live “green”
In no way am I tree hugger – I don’t like getting sap on my shirts. But I have learned that there are responsible ways to not only take care of the things that I own but the world I am sharing. Some things just make sense.
The other day as I was dusting off the elephant collection that I proudly display above my fireplace, it occurred to me that my life had changed over the last few years. Like eating an elephant one bite at a time, so had my opinions and tendencies toward all things “green.” I have a confession to make: I am a political conservative who has been transformed into an environmentalist. Hopefully many of you who have diligently, and without vitriol, worked on the messaging side of the eco-green cause feel really good about your efforts, because I am not alone. I’ve become a believer in the need for responsible earth stewardship. It took awhile, but I’ve looked at the science, used a dab or two of common sense, and came to a rational conclusion: our earth needs help, and we can do better.
Now, that’s as far as I am going to go with my mea culpa at this time as I don’t embrace the entirety of the non-monolithic eco-green movement. But at least be encouraged to know that you’ve had some influence – as one friend said to me, “I don’t have to get tree sap all over the front of my shirt to embrace doing the right thing. It just makes sense to recycle.”
For me, I’ve boiled down what responsible eco-living is: conserve resources, conserve energy, reduce waste, reduce pollution, and reduce the release of harmful substances into the environment. These are simple principles for me, a conservative, to live by.
So I decided to create a fun “week-in-the-life” snapshot of what engaging in eco-friendly living might look like. In doing so I am highlighting some entities that are progressing in sensible earth-care endeavors and are making a difference. Hopefully, I can persuade some who are still skeptical that “going green” is easy, painless, and good for everyone. May it soon be said of these folks that they, too, have “gone green.”
While some of these entities may be well-known already, others might not be. This, in the end, is both a primer for the uninitiated, and an encouragement for those who are.
Let’s start our week on vacation in Alaska! Can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who wouldn’t want to go there. In fact, thousands and thousands of people take Alaskan cruises on those jumbo Vegas-styled boats every year, as it has become one of the more popular destinations for cruising these days. Unfortunately, these ships cause untold damage to the environment each year. Plus, as a tourist you simply can’t get that close and explore like you can on a small boat cruise. The Boat Company has been giving Alaskan small boat eco-cruises for over 30 years, and was recently awarded the combined National Geographic Explorer 2010 HSMAI Gold Adrian Award for sustainable tourism. They recognized years ago that they had a responsibility to leave as little negative impact on the Alaskan environment as possible. In doing so, they created the small boat eco-cruise, and have partnered with Orvis and Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of the famed Jacque Cousteau, to give specially hosted week-long tours of up to 25 people, which include trips up streams the large ships can’t navigate. They even take you to Tongass National Park Rainforest for a hike and some fishing. A rainforest in Alaska? You bet! Then a chef will cook your fish that night for dinner. Talk about enjoying the local products!
Perhaps as you fly home across the nation (you paid a little extra to fly non-stop so as not to have to take off two or more times, thereby reducing fuel consumption), and the pilot says, “we are now flying over Fairfield, Iowa,” and you, ho-hum, impulsively look down and see that it is sparkling green! And it’s not just the fields of un-ripened cornstalks you see. Yes, flyover country has gone green in this little community of 9,500 folks. This town has embraced a global view of a local issue, and, motivated as a result of their Midwestern values. Last year they held 23 eco-green workshops and had joined with 18 companies to help people and businesses lead a sustainable existence. From organic gardening to “backyard chickens for beginners,” to a session called “The serious business of rainwater management,” this town is going full natural steam ahead, and the community has bought into it and is seeing great results.
You have arrived back home after an inspiring vacation and the dust has collected on your tables, dirt is covering your windows, and the bathroom you neglected before you left needs a bath itself. So which products do you choose to clean your home with? There’s no need to spend more than you have to on specialty “green” cleaning products as you can find what you need in pretty much every market and pharmacy with SC Johnson products, makers of Windex, Pledge and Glade. It is reported that HF Johnson Jr. went to Brazil in 1935 to look for a sustainable source of wax, and found what he was looking for in the Carnauba tree. It led to the company’s first product: Johnson Wax. That mindset continues to this day as Saran Wrap has no PVDC’s, and other products are developed with the environment in mind. The company continues to implement ways to reduce its use of environmentally damaging energy.
Now that you are finished with your cleaning you need to take out the trash, only how green is your trash? A question you no longer have to wonder as your local civic waste site has been converted into an eco-friendly producer of electricity by the very same trash you toss out. Usually at a cost of about $700,000, a typical waste dump can be transformed so that waste decomposes more quickly, creating a methane gas which is captured by turbine engines and converted into electricity. These sites can be found anywhere from Riverside, California to Dallas, Texas, to Polk County, Florida. What else is important is that the enhanced decomposition allows for up to 30 times more waste to be placed at a single location than previously. It has been projected that if all waste sites in the nation did this it would provide energy for more than 3,000,000 homes. In Polk County, Florida, they haven’t had a rate increase for over a decade.
Ok, you’ve cleaned the house and are too tired to cook. Maybe tonight’s the night to let someone else do the cooking, but you don’t feel like changing out of your sweats to go sit in a restaurant. How about going to a “green” restaurant whose real colors are known to be red and yellow and have a mascot named Ronald? This may or may not be news to you, but, that’s right, McDonald’s is diligently working towards greening up, and now has green restaurants in Chicago and elsewhere. A store in North Carolina earned a Gold LEED rating, and all new stores are configured to be energy efficient. There are even locations that offer you the opportunity to recharge your electric vehicle. Additionally, the folks at the Golden Arches utilize a software program called EcoProgress that helps them reduce energy costs across all stores and McDonald’s facilities. While the Sistine Chapel took years to restore, so it is taking McDonalds time to go green across every platform, but having worked with the Environmental Defense Fund for over 20 years, they’ve stopped using Styrofoam for their sandwich containers and now use recycled materials for their booster chairs, and currently require suppliers to employ sustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, the oil used for frying is recycled and used for bio-diesel fuel or converted in part into methane gas to then be converted into energy for homes.
The next day you have to get back to work. The hospital where you work recently joined with 50% of all hospitals in the US in recycling their medical supplies, equipment and trash. Your hospital also painted its roof white after installing solar panels.
Soon enough the weekend is back, you are energized and ready for some fun, so you and a friend decide to go cruising up to the mountains on motorcycles that have been converted into eco-friendly machines that you bought in Tampa, Florida from Eco Green Machines. Hungry, you find a local restaurant that uses only local produce, wines and meats. It’s getting late and you’ve decided to stay for the night, so you search the Green Hotel Association on your smart phone to find a “green” hotel close by, make a reservation, and continue relaxing in the midst of the grandeur of nature all weekend.
As a political conservative, I’ve come to learn that a lifestyle change doesn’t necessarily mean that life has ended. In fact, in the long run it will help afford generations to come at least the opportunities in life that I’ve enjoyed.