Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Do We Keep Green From Becoming a Fad?

I was talking with an acquaintance recently—someone who is, himself, quite green—and I was sharing the idea of opening up an eco department store in town. His reaction totally shocked me: “I think folks will tire of the green idea soon,” he said.

For me, green is a way of life, not an idea or a trend or a fad or something I could ever tire of. What’s the point of recycling today if you’re going to toss your cans and bottles and paper into the landfills tomorrow?

I can see how it’s confusing for people. Take Oprah ( for example. I saw her green show earlier this year and loved that the green message was getting out to so many people. But a show a day or two later talked about fashion, and none of it was green. I remember, in particular, Oprah fawning over a wrinkle-free white button-down shirt. The amount of chemicals needed to make a shirt wrinkle-free is astounding, making it anything but green.

So here's one way that green becomes a fad. Talk the talk today, and walk a different walk tomorrow and it's easy to forget that green steps have to always be taken. It’s up to those of us who truly care—down to our very cores—to lead by example. They say children learn more by what they see than by what they’re told . . . and I think the same is true of adults. If your company doesn’t recycle, you should recycle what you can from your office. If your best friend doesn’t bring a cloth bag when you shop together, bring one for her. If your parents insist on a green lawn, buy them natural weed killers and fertilizers.

I have a feeling it’s the big messages and the subtle reminders that will keep green from becoming a fad. After all, it’s something we do for life—literally.

By the way, I don’t mean to harp on Oprah—I obviously watch her show on occasion—but I caught her Earth Day show this week and was absolutely flabbergasted (in all the wrong ways) that the show opened with Julia Roberts and then continued with Sandra Bullock and then ended with a quick chat with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Al Gore. Two actors giggling their way through green segments before the real environmental champion is introduced? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

In the meantime, I'm just glad the green show aired at all. Now let's hope Oprah doesn't promote wrinkle-free shirts during today's show.

Question of the blog: What are some specific ways we can keep green top-of-mind every day for everyone?

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