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The 7 Habits of Reasonably Green People

As we’ve recently put another Earth Day in the rear view, let’s take a step back and have a brief look at our “greener” selves. Sure you are trying, after all you are here at Simple Organic, but do you ever feel as if something is missing? It could be that your old, bad habits are undermining your best efforts at greening your life. In the spirit of Earth Day and new beginnings here are seven can’t-miss green habits for you to cultivate this Spring:

Photo by Alessandro Paiva

1) Be thrifty

How do the greenest among us afford all that fancy organic produce and those swanky tankless water heaters? Easy –they don’t spend their money on much else!
Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever green you up faster than using less of whatever it is that you use –borrow, scale back, repair, reuse, repurpose, barter, find it used, or just skip it entirely. Get thrifty, seriously thrifty. Watch the money pile up and tread a little lighter on the earth at the same time.

2) Be patient

We tend to create emergencies in our lives which justify a quick fix or urgent purchase: the plastic snow shovel in a March squall, the parka during the downpour, the gas station coffee every other morning. Not only are some of these quick fixes overly expensive, but often they are shoddy, disposable products. The green tend to wait it out or to get by with what’s on hand.
That being said, not all “emergencies” are so frivolous. Many times frustration or a need for escape can push us into a panic over something a little more substantial. If you are thinking about a larger purchase or radical lifestyle change, give yourself time to consciously attempt living without it before you make your final decision. Cooler heads make for greener people.

Photo by Lars Sundstrom
3) Be confident

Face it, there are untold billions of dollars spent every year in order to convince each and every one of us to center our lives around consumption –-and it is working. Being the one that has a problem with it all can be an isolating experience. Marketers have begun to play on our fears of alienation by stamping “green” on the side of just about anything. Opt out, scrutinize, and ignore the claims of anything that has a price tag on it.

4) Be observant

Greener people keep an eye out for the little things. They know that carbon footprints can shrink by a thousand cuts: packing freezers, cranking down/up thermostats, and displacing the water in toilet tanks are all tiny contributors to a greener life. To make those changes, you have to be looking for them.

Photo by Iris Scherer

5) Be generous

The more junk you accumulate the more time and resources it takes to maintain, store, and enjoy all of that wonderful stuff! Give or loan unused and underused things away to others and not only will it reduce the environmental impact of both parties, but your things can go from collecting dust to doing whatever it is that they were intended to do.

6) Be sociable

As an aspiring green human being, it is your duty to become an active member of your community. Whether it’s an exchange of ideas, used sporting goods, or seeds participation is a key element to making greener neighbors and selves. Do not assume just because your neighbors overdo it with the 10-10-10 that you have nothing to learn from them. Relax a little and open your life to the people in your community. Greener folks know that shrugging off the consumer yolk is just the first agonizing step, becoming citizens is the ultimate goal.

7) Be self-aware

It is no secret that stepping back from entrenched habits and lifestyle choices can be a major boon to your daily carbon quotient. The green mindset is always asking “Can I really get by with no car, less living space, or a simpler lifestyle?” The answer is that unless you are living in a lean-to in the forest, you most definitely can, but we all have comforts and conveniences that we cling to in spite of better knowledge. It’s that admission and the continuing search for alternatives which makes one green in the first place though, isn’t it?

What does “green” mean to you and how far are you willing to go?

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20 Comments

  1. se7en

    I love your be generous and be sociable points!!! When folks talk about going green it amazes me that some people still think that means : Going off the grid and only using solar power or having a non-flushing toilet that uses a teaspoon of water every thirty-six years. In reality going green has become so much easier that a lot of what we do I don’t even think about anymore. I remember driving around the city look for a recycle zone to drop off bottles, now our recycling gets collected on garbage day… I blogged about it the other day (http://www.se7en.org.za/2011/04/24/i-never-intended-to-be-a-green-mother), I think the cost of “going green” is actually time – it takes a little longer to sort the recycling and hang out the laundry… but really it is time spent together with our kids and each other and I am all for paying that sort of price!!!

  2. Kristin

    I don’t know what 10-10-10 is, but I feel relieved (and validated!) that I do many of these things already. Moving from urban to suburban has immediately widened my own footprint, and I try to find ways to minimize it all the time.

    Thank for this!

  3. Living the Balanced Life

    I think being observant and being self-aware are huge. Once I started realizing how much waste the packages I was buying in the store were leaving, I began looking for alternatives. Every little thing we do can make a differnce!
    Bernice

  4. Jenn

    This is a great list. We try to practice being thrifty and to get the most use out of everything by repairing rather than replacing. We are lucky enough to live in a thriving community that values these things. We’re a transition town and a time bank to share community resources is starting in May (http://harmonicmama.com/2011/03/five-things-i-love-about-my-small-town/) We regularly swap used items. We have child gate that’s on it’s 4th family out there and will soon be passed on to a 5th. Again great list.

  5. Elizabeth E.

    I love this post. Too often people seem to think that being “green” means buying different more expensive things. Or that you have to be “doing doing doing” all the time and sucking up all of your free time aerating compost and sewing your own shoes out of used coffee cans. I jest. But seriously, it’s so important to realize that the first component of being green is just being aware of what you are doing and how it’s going to effect the world around you. Needing less, consuming less, producing less waste is extremely important.

    Some times my kids as for something and I tell them that they can not have it because it’s a waste. I often hear back, but we can recycle it. Then I remind them of the first (and most forgotten) part of the expression REDUCE! Reuse is also darn important. It’s as though people only had enough brain space for one and only recycling made it in.

    Be aware, reduce, reuse, and you can go a long way to being green.

    • NJ Renie

      EE: Certainly the pressure seems to pushing for “green” to become some kind of totem against the guilt of conspicuous consumption, e.g. when we see suburban developments of 4K sq ft “green” single family houses.

      K:10-10-10 is all-purpose fertilizer. A small footprint in a suburban environment is a tremendous challenge, really the biggest domestic challenge of the next century for the US. Good luck.

      Se7en: Nice name: “What’s in the box?” yikes!

      There is a tendency to imagine the necessary changes as impossible so that we don’t have to bother making any changes, even the most basic (I’m sure there is a name for this, but I don’t know it). In this environment your example will be the model.

      • Judy Marinaro

        Just discovered this site !! loved your post, we can all take simple steps at home and create a global change !!
        “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
        Dr. Margaret Mead.
        I work for a green energy company committed to sustainable renewable energy, we specialize in residential energy savings. contact me if i can help you add this to your list of “POSITIVE ACTIONS I HAVE TAKEN TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT”
        🙂
        Judy

  6. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)

    Fabulous post! To me, green means being more actively aware. I’m learning more about what negatively and positively effects the environment, and I’m willing to take thoughtful action based on that knowledge.
    And you’re totally right about being thrifty. Our biggest “green” transition occurred after we got married and suddenly had to do the broke newlywed thing. It was awesome how little we wasted and how little we bought.
    And it’s something we’ve tried to maintain through several moves and several job changes.

  7. Magic and Mayhem

    I love this list and agree with every one! It’s so nice to see more posts about how green can equal frugal, simple and so much more.

  8. Maggie

    My resolution for this year is to embrace thrift, and it is naturally leading me to a greater self-awareness of so many things – emotional triggers, marketing ploys, and the creative practice of finding alternatives to conspicuous consumption. Thanks for a great article!

  9. Steve

    maybe the most important thing in life is to be self aware. that’s the key for any change, for any progress, i totally agree on that. the thing is i’m not convince that wanting less and coping with less is necessarily what we need to do for our goal of better life.

  10. Nisha @ Healthy Mom's Kitchen

    I’m just figuring out what “green” is for me and my family over the last year or so. For me, going green means becoming more conscious of the world around us, the toxins we’re producing and the toxins we’re surrounded by and doing our part, however large or small to make an impact.

    I loved this post and everyone’s comments. Had to laugh at your comment about the 4k sq ft green home 🙂 I once dreamed of such a home and it now seems so frivolous and ridiculous!

  11. CeliaSchneider34

    The business loans seem to be important for guys, which are willing to organize their career. As a fact, that’s easy to get a financial loan.

  12. sudha

    wonderful article…i keep iterating the point that green doesnt just mean being raidcal, but making sensible choices to make it easier on theplanet…so well said!!

  13. sudha

    btw,i am was a part of the management consulting industry…as a strategy management analyst ..I used to push for earth friendly supply chains and minimalismm, i refuse to work for certain brands because they just dont seem to get it…sad but true…i m jobless and kind of happy that im not pushing wares which cause more damage to the planet than good…have shared the article on allsocial mediasites…love urstyle or callingspadea spade!!!!

  14. Megan

    Sadly, these small “observant” actions may make us feel better about our impact on the planet, but have very little actual impact. The top two things that truly reduce carbon footprint are 1) have no kids, and 2) don’t fly. Those two things are to radical to promote and be taken seriously about-sort of shoots down the “be sociable” one.

  15. malachite

    “Greener folks know that shrugging off the consumer yolk is just the first agonizing step, ”

    Unless this statement is meant to include a pun I believe the word is yoke, not yolk. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of two draft animals (oxen, for example) and attached to a wagon or plow (via harness, perhaps) that the animals are to pull; also used to describe a piece of wood shaped to fit a person’s shoulders w/a pail at either end. There are a few other related definitions.

    A yolk is the yellow part of an egg/ovum.

  16. Mary Jo

    I think you mean “yoke” in #6. Or maybe you don’t eat eggs.

  17. Ben

    I have to admit that I often go with the quick fixes 🙁 I need to be more patient and find solutions that really work for me. It’s just tough when you don’t have a huge amount of time to do research. Trying to live more simply has been a challenge, but it’s well worth the reward.

  18. della

    Love your points. We must keep moving and if we are not social we are preaching to the choir.

    Della
    badartworld.com

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