get your green on

The onset of the new year provides an opportunity to recharge our philosophical batteries and re-focus our energies on ourselves, our lifestyle and the environment. The past few year’s economic and political turmoil has created a phenomenon I’ll call “green fatigue” – a war of attrition against all things green that can sap your time, energy and enthusiasm for acting on environmental issues and lifestyle choices. Upon reflection, I’ve found that at many social events in the recent past I have concentrated my attention on the shrimp salad and cheese platter while consciously avoiding the discussion of topics like organic food, global warming (there I said it), environmental regulations and sustainable development in an effort to avoid confrontation and social disruption.

But now, the changing of the year provides us “greenies” – in all our various shades – the chance to rededicate ourselves to investing our time and energy in support earth-friendly choices that hold tremendous potential benefit for our local communities, families, the environment and future generations.

One big hurdle obstructing real change on environmental and consumer issues is the corporately funded, massive campaign to promote climate change denial and oppose any-and-all forms of environmental regulation, a campaign designed to obfuscate the issues, confuse the public and undermine the fight against climate change (special thanks goes out to Fox News). On a state and local level, big money special interest groups, funded by processed food companies, giant agribusinesses (we’re looking at you Monsanto), local power companies and the fossil fuel industry are protecting profits and their own corporate self interest by fighting planet and people-friendly initiatives. Vast sums of corporate cash are being invested in fighting things like the enforcement of water quality standards, the regulation of emissions, conservation efforts, residential solar projects, plastic bags laws, fracking regulation, medical marijuana, animal rights, GMO and consumer products labeling and all-manner of environmental regulations and consumer protections.

We little guys, who still dream of a functioning social ecosystem, friendly to man, beast, consumers and our communities need to crank up our passion and return to making some noise and fighting the good fight. Here are few of my personal tips for getting our ‘green’ back on:

  • Think before you buy. Consumers hold the ultimate power in the marketplace. Purchasing decisions should be based on a few simple criteria: do I really need this product? Does this manufacturer support ethical, animal-friendly, environmentally sound processes? Is there an affordable green, or ethical alternative? What’s in this stuff? Has this product been bathed in pesticides and genetically modified. Has this product sucked-up a disproportionate quantity of water, fertilizer, precious raw materials and destroyed essential habitat in its creation? Will eating this item potentially impact my family’s long term health. How will I ever get rid of this piece of disposable junk? Read those labels, and if something doesn’t meet your criteria, take a pass.
  • Every vote counts. Vote your conscience and beliefs. If properly organized (or even improperly organized), the green movement can wield a lot of political clout (the Keystone Pipeline is still a pipe dream). Both local  and national elections count. Stayed informed on issues and candidate’s positions – particularly those affecting the environment – and above all, vote early and often :). Keep your friends and family informed on the issues and encourage them to vote and vote enthusiastically. If you have the time and energy join a chapter of a local green org.
  • Use your social media. You can use your influence with the people in your social networks to inform, energize and motivate folks. It’s time to make some noise and use your social media network for something other than featuring your cat’s latest sleeping pix, or your neighbors dog licking his balls. Post facts, articles and personal photos that reflect your positions. Get personal, opinionated and have fun.
  • Build local relationships. Buy local and, when possible, buy organic. Promote your local small businesses, farmers, green markets and craftspeople, these are the folks that will help you make you local community something more than a cavalcade of strip malls, big box stores and parking lots.
  • Practice what you preach. I know I have to put down the paper towels, walk to the store instead of drive and do more than just use my reusable bags. I have to get out there (and on the internet) and fight for the issues I believe in. It’s a new year and a new opportunity for positive change. Let’s make it happen.

Image credit: green cityscape via shutterstock.com