Green Terminology - Are We Even Speaking The Same Language?

Okay, the shelves themselves aren't green, perse, but the content on the books makes it look like "Green" is popular. It's Easy, it's Chic, it's your carbon footprint, whatever that is, anyway... Apparently you can even grow up this way: nifty.

It can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but whatever it is, it's here and there seems to be common understanding that maybe we're going to wind up on Santa's list and not even get the coal typically associated with that stigma.

There's a lot about 'green'. Green seems to be associated with plants, which breathe our respiratory waste carbon dioxide and provide us with the most fundamental survival element: oxygen. It's an easy association with the environment, which is inandof itself a funny concept, I think: environment. Wherever you are, that's your environment, after all. But I digress... Our natural spaces can certainly be green and it seems best to leave them that way and/or make special efforts to keep them that way, if that's how they were when we found them.

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There's also a lot out there about carbon footprint. The concept has some very interesting implications not unlike those of water. The August Scientific American has some great points about the imbedded water for certain products, wheat not the least of which among them; roughly 1,000 Liters of water are required to grow 1 Kg of wheat. When we consider that 5 Kg of wheat are required to yield 1 Kg of beef, it becomes more clear how we could dramatically reduce our ecological footprint (at least measured by water) by reducing the amount of meat we eat. So, too with CO2. Really, what we're talking about, whether it's CO2 or H2O, is externalities: the unaccounted implications of our decisions, along the supply chain that brings us goods. One of the best sites I've seen that exposes these costs is the Footprint Chronicles, brought to us by Patagonia, one of the best outdoor retailers. This is a landmark stride in the environmental space - thanks, Patagonia!

I believe that, for the most part, we do not take our decisions seriously enough. Put another way, we're just not very thoughtful. We don't think about the energy and pulp required to bring us the book on the shelf. We are even less likely to think about the opportunity cost of not having the tree that was likely felled to make the pulp or the water used and contaminated in the process. Who wants to think about that? It can be depressing and overwhelming, because the repercussions of our consumption decisions are far-reaching and myriad.

It's important, though, so please, make some time to inform yourself. I'm not aware of any green terminology guide that makes this all easy. Our culture suffers from wanting a quick fix for everthing. It certainly makes us succeptible to profiteers who understand that people "want to be green", even when they don't know what that means. All of this actually gets back to the fundamental premise of the site that we need a green polyculture. I would be thrilled if, as a consequence of putting out these thoughts, the information I make time to package for you, your shade of green changed a bit. If there are issues you'd like to see addressed, please use the Contact form to let me know and I'll do my best to keep up with requests that resonate with me.

Until then, keep it green.