Lately I have been reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller for one of my classes. I have read it before, but one of the best thinks about reading books is that they are always different with each new perspective. Last night, I was reading Miller’s thoughts on belief, and he made an interesting statement. For the most part, people only believe things that are trendy. (These people probably don’t truly believe, but it is just easier to prescribe to that sort of thought if everyone else does.) Of course, he was using this in a spiritual parallel, but it is undeniably true for every aspect of life, and these days, people are seeing eco-friendly living as a major trend.
Years ago, people who really cared about the environment were labeled “hippies”, and their reputation still succeeds their actions. I am sure that most people have a very specific image in their mind when thinking of a hippie, probably all combinations of some pop-culture references from years ago. Now, the landscape of the movement has totally changed. There are shows on television that describe how to “green” your home. Celebrities are spokespersons for products that are free of chemicals and are derived from natural plants. Books have been written, restaurants and stores created, and now, after many years, living green is now the trendy thing to do.
I suppose that popularity in this case can be a good thing, but I am still wary of its effect on the environment. Sure, more people know about the issues of climate change and landfills and the oil shortage. But now big companies are using these as selling points, and probably still exploiting others while they do so.
I am sure that this phenomenon is bringing awareness to green issues, which is great. However, I am afraid that people are missing the point. Living green should be about more than just buying high-priced organic foods or specialized furniture. The people who run “A Year of Living Greener” at blogspot.com touched on this in their quest to buy the right house: “Being green isn’t just about the kind of cleaners you buy, or trying to use less gas – it’s about trying live in such a way that you have what you need, not more than you need. When you buy a car – buy the one that suits your needs – not the one that looks just right (and is maybe bigger than necessary).” (You can read the actual post here.)
This will always be a struggle for me, because I am always captivated by the nicest things. Maybe that is the product of being raised in a culture that celebrates the American dream, but it is not right for me to want more and more without because content with only what I need.
I have a friend that is really interested in the idea of a simple life. The more I think about it, the more I agree. It may be completely against the culture of American thought, but I don’t believe that money is buying people happiness anymore. Maybe this has turned into a rant about culture instead of living with respect for other people and for the planet, but it is all interconnected anyway.