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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

Going Green Mistakes Are OK

There is no need to try to be perfect when it comes to going green. While Emily admits to occasional frustration with wastefulness, she feels “there are no mistakes. You do the best you can when you can, and when you can’t, you let it go and try to do better the next time.” She advises to start out small to avoid burnout, and also to bring consciousness to your everyday actions. “Think about the impact of your behavior on the planet and you will find there are plenty of opportunities to cut waste each day,” she says.

Michelle Bexelius, designer and co-founder of VerdeZone, a company dedicated to helping people design healthy, eco-friendly living spaces, suggests planning ahead without striving for perfection, and letting the rest go. “The other day I got my kids some bottled water. I usually use reusable stainless steel bottles,” she says. On that day, Bexelius admits she hadn’t adhered to her normal routine of planning ahead. “Take the time and be organized, get your reusable shopping bags and put them in your car,” she says. “Make sure you know where your farmers’ market is and plan your grocery shopping around that. But if you can’t do it sometimes, don’t feel bad; as long as you’re making these big strides and changes, then it’s OK.”

Even though giving advice on how to lead a healthier, more eco-conscious lifestyle is her business, Bexelius worries about being preachy. “I have to be careful to not come across as too strong or knowledgeable because it scares people off,” she says. “I want to be able to spread the message of green living to people by example.” Bexelius suggests bringing your own reusable containers to festivals and fairs to tote home leftovers, hanging tote bags for grocery shopping on a hook conveniently located by your car keys, and when you wear or carry something eco-friendly, flaunt it. “As a graphic designer, I often dress in eco-friendly clothing, and I point it out when I do,” she says.

Successfully Living Green

Finding support for your new lifestyle is vital for success. “Community is very important, especially if you live in a city,” says Milwaukee proofreader Carrie O’Connor. She suggests starting a dialogue with people in one’s spiritual or religious community. “Volunteerism is another aspect of a green lifestyle,” Carrie adds. “We realize our interdependence, forego the distraction of consumerism and give as we have received.”

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."