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Our Going Green Experts

Ron Dembo

Ron Dembo

Professor, author and founder of Zerofootprint.net

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Josh Dorfman

Josh Dorfman

Author and radio show host known as The Lazy Environmentalist...

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Jennifer Hattam

Jennifer Hattam

Journalist and blogger at The Green Life

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The Many Shades of Green Living

“I can envision a very dark green lifestyle in which the exteriors of our buildings are planted as native habitats for birds and other wildlife, our energy is mostly locally produced with minimal use of fossil fuels, and less travel is needed in our daily routines,” Fergus adds. “In this deep green utopia, we’d all work less, eat less and spend more time in our gardens and with our friends and families.”

So how exactly does one chart a course for Utopia? For many people, switching to the earth-friendlier side of the dial comes as a natural outgrowth of their hobbies and interests. Garden writer Jodi Torpey was researching pests and plant diseases for her book, The Colorado Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Gardening in the Centennial State, when she came across environmentally conscious gardening methods. “I began considering the implications of gardeners automatically turning to chemicals to solve common gardening problems,” she says. Her research revealed that suburban lawns receive more pesticide exposure than farmland. “With so many lawns in the country, this represents a tremendous toxic load on the environment,” explains Torpey. “When it rains, fertilizers and pesticides are washed away into the storm drain system, and these pollutants end up in our waterways.”

While Torpey had previously used some organic gardening methods, the research for her book led to deeper changes, like switching to organic fertilizer, which was harder to find but eventually accessible. “It takes a conscious effort and a lot more work to be green in the garden,” she says. “I’ve become more diligent in composting my kitchen waste, but that takes more time than turning on the garbage disposal.”

At first, the writer worried her efforts alone wouldn’t make much of an impact. “I’m happy with my results, but I know my efforts are only a drop in the bucket,” Torpey says. “It’s hard to imagine how one person’s efforts will have much of an impact on this problem.” Despite these concerns, Torpey feels her extra efforts have been worth it. “Don’t try to do everything at once, but start with what will make an immediate impact,” she says.

Posted: 10/3/07

Raquelita, paper bags are not the answer. I am a 'North American' who is trying to make a difference & I bring my own bags to every store & farmer's market, among other efforts. Reusable bags are a huge help and can be fancy at the same time.


Once you begin to go green, it becomes, at least for me, an addiction...a healthy one at that. I am a heavy recycler and now I have people at work doing it and doing it willingly. It's great...very rewarding.

  • By amwith
  • on 5/14/08 2:19 PM EST

Raquelita, your point is well taken—we must change in many ways. However, change is challenging, and I think the point about many shades of green is that its better for an individual to do one thing than nothing at all! Usually, those individuals that begin as "light green" soon find themselves becoming more and more eco-minded as time goes on!

  • By kristen
  • on 4/28/08 3:45 PM EST

I don't think a combo of light green and dark green choices is going to meet the demanding ecological challenges we are facing. Sometimes, dear North Americans, there is such as thing necessary as 'sacrifice' of "life-style". In part, our unreasonably demands have helped created the problems we face. Park the SUV, AND use brown paper bags (the jury is out as to whether they are better than plastic vis a vis production energy used) AND grow some vegetables in your yard or if no yard, buy from local farm families. Many shades aren't going to do it!


Balanced assessment of the pros and cons of "going Green."