There seems to be an incredibly broad spectrum of what people consider green.
Here are a few of my observations:
The yuppie greenie: $30k hybrids, $20k solar panels, $5 boxes of non-gmo, organic mac ‘n cheese.
The hippie greenie: Thrift stores, dumpster diving, veganism.
The homestead greenie: Self sufficiency, living off the grid, the ultimate DIY-ers.
The luddite greenie: Living off the natural ecosystem, lack of permanent residence, hunter/gatherer type.
The no impact greenie: Zero waste, plastic-free, carbon-neutral.
These are obviously over generalizations and over labeling, and most people, such as myself, are in a combination of categories. I personally can relate with the sentiments of each category, and all are noble, but are they sustainable? Can we ask that everyone shell out tens of thousands of dollars for solar panels? Don’t hybrids still promote obesity and sprawl? Can we suggest everyone risk rummaging through a dumpster? Is it likely or even healthy for the mass population to give up meat? Is it possible to have zero waste in a modern world? Can we expect the modern domesticated human to live off the land or isolate themselves in a homestead in the woods?
Most importantly, does the average greenie think about the tradeoffs of their choices?
Let’s look at a different category. A category which is much more doable and scalable by the mass population, as proven with the current popularity of blogs and books.
The simple living greenie: Work/life balance; early retirement; financial independence; part time work; sabbaticals; frugality, minimalism, slow food, slow travel; active transportation; muscle over motor.
What the simple living greenie is not:
The simple living greenie doesn’t make declarations that they can’t keep, such as zero or neutral. They don’t look for expensive alternative technologies and products, but rather reduce. They know they are not perfect. They know that putting too many restrictions on a modern lifestyle can be stressful, draining and sometimes unhealthy. They are not promoting a ‘one size fits all’ solution, because simple living and eco-friendly living looks different for everyone. These are the people who don’t like to label themselves with any one particular trend or crowd, but rather they make a lifestyle that suits their values.
They care for the environment, but are not doom and gloom or judgmental to others.
What the simple living greenie is:
They know they need stuff in a modern world, and the amount of stuff differs from person to person, but they are designing a modern life to put people, time and experiences before stuff… even ‘green’ stuff. They know that meeting emotional and physiological needs are ultimately more important than either ‘being green’ or the mindless accumulation of consumer goods. They find enjoyment in solving problems by doing, rather than paying. They value purpose over a paycheck.
They know that many people really don’t want to be green, but want to save green and be happier and healthier.
They don’t deprive or restrict themselves, but rather choose the simplest, lowest impact lifestyle to create freedom and maximum effect for themselves, not for societal conformity. This is sustainable.
What are your thoughts? Is simple the new green?