Following much of anything has never been my thing. Whenever the masses go “to”, I’d naturally go “fro” without much thought. It hasn’t necessarily been because I just have this thing about being a rebel, it’s more about finding my own way, within my own timeframe, with a “Kristine” stamp on it. I suppose I am a proud, rebellious Gen X’er – I’m so on the outskirts that even though I am an artist, I would not be caught dead at Burning Man. Burners thinkin’ their so original by riding their bicycles in the desert naked with a pom pom, singing blue grass to a trance beat. Followers I say! That’s okay, I will gladly stay at home in solitude and work on my sculpture in my pajamas and show it off when I’m ready… and clothed in something boring.
Green BS Meter on High Alert
Silliness aside, when the “green” or “eco” movement started to develop a little over twelve years ago, I observed with cynicism and eyes rolling. I’d question the authenticity of the products and/or services and wonder how educated the companies were on every aspect of what they were producing or offering. I wondered if this was just another marketing trend with companies enthusiastically using the words, “green” and “eco” to target supposedly conscious followers who happily jumped on the “environmentally friendly” bandwagon. And of course I’d question why the prices were so high when they’re trying to, ahem, “save the planet”. It fueled my irritation that if humanity was really serious about saving the planet, we’d all try and figure out how to make being environmentally friendly affordable for everyone.
When “organic” foods started to be marketed at mainstream grocery outlets, I first questioned if they were really organic and defaulted to believing it was just the latest marketing scam to sell to the lined pockets of gullible and privileged yuppies. At the time, I was priced out of the organic market anyway, as I was running a household where the majority were voracious males. There was no way I could afford to buy fancy organic foods, and to be perfectly honest, I was turned off. So, conventional foods it was, but I have always have been educated enough to know that processed foods should be kept to a minimum. That was not a a popular idea in my household, but conventionally-grown fruits and veggies were in my fridge and you know what? We didn’t die.
I showed up to the back door of the green movement.
It has taken almost twelve years for me to warm up to the “green” or “eco” movement. My love for nature, hiking and the ocean, combined with being health conscious, has led me to the back door to participate in “saving the planet”. Trash on trails and beaches has always been disturbing to me – so of course I’d end up helping to clean them up. Additionally, I have the genetic disposition for hypothyroidism, which pushes me to have a very specific (and clean) diet, resulting in purchasing 100% organic foods for at least a year now. My abhorrence for big pharma and medications only adds fuel to the fire to take care of my body well, as I refuse to hand over any money to any pharmaceutical company to balance my thyroid hormones.
I showed up to the Green Festival.
I guess this means I have officially arrived to the green movement! But it only took me five minutes for me to fully grasp that the center focal-point of the festival was consumerism, where big money was to be made. In the back of my mind I already knew it, but seeing it firsthand, I understood that many – mostly small businesses – were working hard to “seal the deal” with new customers. I took a deep breath and knew at some point my irritation level would start rising and told myself to behave in the frenetic energy, loud voices and people trying to sell me stuff.
Concurrently, there were speakers scheduled throughout the weekend, covering topics ranging from commercial toxins reduction, fracking, sustainability, green technology – to diet and nutrition and self-help topics. My buddy, Ji and I learned about “Ferment Your Way To Health”. The entrepreneur, author and nutritionist, Karen Diggs certainly was successful in inspiring both Ji and I to boot up fermenting, a.k.a., “pickling” veggies for their nutritional benefits.
Kristine the consumer
My “anti-stuff” value was tested and I failed miserably. Within an hour, my tiny purse was overflowing with samples and my hands were full. My “limit stuff discernment” went out the window as I came home with multiple granola and seed bars, hemp seeds, a branded measuring spoon, miso soup mix, reusable fabric bag, stickers, a wooden pen and baking mixes when I don’t bake. It’s now six hours post event and I have managed to eat four granola-type bars, one after another. Oh no… there’s no spreading these treats out over a week… I need to down them and “clean up” my space – just too much clutter. Not only did I show up to my first “green” event, I went against my personal beliefs on limiting stuff in my life and consumed like a maniac!
The elephant in the room
While I sincerely enjoyed the festival, I also observe paradoxical issues. On one hand, there were many organizations working hard to represent and receive support for their environmental conservation work, while on the other, food companies were doling out products in single-use plastic packaging that will end up in landfill for a slow death of approximately 600 years. The bottom line is, we live in a world were it is driven by consumerism, and I – just like everyone else, gets caught right up in it. And this is where my frustration began so many years ago when I questioned the “green” movement to begin with. If a company is going to market that they are “environmentally friendly” and participate in the Green Festival, then they really need to stay true to that with all aspects of their business from behind the scenes production – to what they distribute.
Biodegradable food and product packaging is available and on the market. So, why is it that these companies who participated at the Green Festival, not implementing them? I am assuming that it’s costly. So this leads me to my next question about corporate responsibility. At some point, our economy really needs to see the bigger, long term picture of what’s at stake. It seems a bit obvious to me that the “feed me now” culture we live in, will cost a hugely unstable environment in the future. Perhaps it could be perceived as happening now.
It’s twelve years or so into this bourgeoning green movement – my 71 year old mentor, Glenda, would say 20 years – but I can finally admit that as compared to most people in my circles, I’m pretty damn “green”. I recycle, I compost when I can (my current household not on board yet), I do my environmental beach cleanup work at least three times a week, I’m loyal to my reusable water bottle, I invest in my health and buy organic food, I’m conscious about water and electricity usage, I wear second-hand clothing and own a used car. The list goes on, but instead of me aligning with the green movement along with all those legions of humans out there, I’ll call it simply my Earth Respect!