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Ron Dembo

Ron Dembo

Professor, author and founder of Zerofootprint.net

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Josh Dorfman

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

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Jennifer Hattam

Journalist and blogger at The Green Life

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The Many Shades of Green Living

Fergus agrees. “Sometimes green alternatives can be more expensive than the not-so-green options,” he says. “Many people think that a green lifestyle means doing without, sacrificing and suffering. While it might be important to forgo some things in order to be more environmentally sound, the green alternatives often provide their own lifestyle benefits.” He advises learning to value eco-friendly benefits over not-so-green choices. Instead of spending hours indoors after work or school, “greener alternatives like bird watching, fishing or gardening provide exercise, fresh air and a connection to the environment. Is it really a sacrifice to skip a couple hours of television to connect with nature?”

Going Green for the Kids

For many people, parenthood can foster a deeper desire to preserve resources for the kids. Emily Bennings, a mom of four kids in the Cincinnati area, read the eco-classic 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth, by Earth Works Group, in high school. “It’s easy to try to save the planet when you’re young and without children or a job,” she says. Emily formed habits like turning off the tap while brushing her teeth, taking shallow baths instead of showers and recycling. “As I got older and had my children, it became important to me to do as much as I could to protect the planet from irreparable harm,” she says. “I have been lucky to be involved in a community at work that passes on information about living a green lifestyle.”

It’s not easy living the green life with a family of six, but Emily is energized by her conscious choices. She stresses the value of everyday decisions to her kids by sharing the message she received as a teenager. “I am proud of my children when they pick up trash, turn off a light or practice some of the habits I’ve tried to instill in them,” she says. Because parents must consume so many different products in the process of raising their children, Emily has become aware of a myriad of choices that might seem insignificant to the casual observer. The family joined a community-supported agriculture co-op, which will provide locally grown produce during summer months. They reuse plastic cutlery and opt for cloth napkins over paper towels. “I try to avoid buying products that are meant for one use only or otherwise disposable, though we did use disposable diapers,” she says. “Every time I throw something in the trash, I think about how long it will take it to biodegrade and how it will affect the planet while it lies in a landfill somewhere.”

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."