“Going green” is a popular buzz-phrase that can start to lose meaning the more it’s overused. And that’s coming from someone who’s overused it in more than five years of blogging about greener lifestyles! But what exactly does it mean to go green?
Going green covers many different elements: reducing, reusing and recycling; upcycling; not littering; living sustainably; conserving energy; conserving materials; going zero-waste; fair-trade and ethical production; being carbon neutral; organic crop growing; being chemical-free; going off the grid… are you overwhelmed yet?
To me, being green is about respecting our environment by keeping it clean and not leaving trash and using our resources in the right way, without wasting them. Sustainability is about using what we have in a way that can last for years to come.
I learned about going green at a young age from two main sources. When Lafayette began providing curbside recycling, I learned from my parents about sorting our plastic, glass, paper, and aluminum into the blue, yellow and green stacking bins. They were a pain to carry to the curb, but we did it every week, and it really instilled that habit of separating recyclable goods from garbage. We also used cloth bags at the grocery store (and I actually still have and use the Delchamp’s cloth bag in that photo — it’s been carrying groceries for over 25 years now!)
One of my sixth grade teachers would read us lessons from “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save the Earth.” We learned about things like cutting six-pack rings, and why it’s important for the safety of wildlife. We learned about turning lights off as we left the room, or not leaving the water running while brushing our teeth.
I’m aware that I care more than most about our environment, and one of the biggest reasons I care so much is because such simple actions can make big differences.
Don’t litter. Pick up trash. Turn off the light when you leave the room. Use cloth dish rags instead of paper towels. Reuse something until it can’t be used again. Don’t unnecessarily idle your car. Recycle your paper, cans and plastic (#1 and #2 in Lafayette). Donate what you no longer need. Plant a tree. Enjoy nature.
But it’s about more than just me. I want to inspire even just a few others to make a few changes for the sake of our environment. There’s strength in numbers. It may take a little time to change your habits, but once you do, it’s super easy to remember your reusable water bottle, or to recycle the (clean and empty) ketchup bottle, or to grab only one napkin instead of 12 and skip the Styrofoam. I know you’ve made a few green new year’s resolutions — don’t give up on them yet!
Looking back at the list of what being green covers, you don’t have to embrace every single element. Pick a few to focus on. When you make the effort, you are being green. It’s a journey, just like anything else. (I’ve still got a ways to go on this journey, too!)
This world is beautiful, it’s ours, and it’s our only one, so let’s each do our part to keep it beautiful for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren.
Lafayette native Caitlin Sonnier Russo is the bike-riding, compulsive litter-collecting, yoga-obsessed green blogger behind EcoCajun.com.