Extremely Green, Low Impact Living

April 21, 2009

With Earth Day around the corner many of us are thinking about the steps that we can take to live a little lighter on the grid and reduce our carbon footprint. But the real goal of Earth Day is to increase awareness of the impact we have on the Earth. An article that appeared in the Washington Post took the time to highlight a handful of area families that are doing their part to protect the planet 365 days a year- but then classified some of their actions as being quote, ‘extreme.’

Across the Washington region, a few residents have embraced eco-friendly living with a fervor that makes Al Gore look like an oil company lobbyist. They give up everything from furnace heat (too many emissions) to store-bought meat (too much factory farming) to plans for a second child (too much of everything, given the average American’s environmental impact). But for the people who have to live with these enthusiasts, this much green can sometimes be hard to take.

Most of the actions that people are taking are in response to climate change, the greatest environmental challenge of our generation. Their responses, in my humble opinion are justified and part of the wide range of actions that people should be taking to reduce their carbon footprint. While I may never save water from my showers, as one man mentioned in the article does, I don’t see why conservation efforts like that should be considered extreme. I find it to be interesting that this article focuses on the few people that may be doing too much, as opposed to many who aren’t doing nearly enough. Just like everything in life, some people are going to be more into a given action than others. For example, some people paint their faces to attend a sporting event, others wear their team’s cap and jersey, others just show up and drink a beer. Are any of those fans extreme? No, but they represent the spectrum of people interested in the team. Comprehensively fighting climate change will require all kinds of people. People who want to do everything they can, and people who are just now willing to take the first step. Now is not the time to split hairs on what could be deemed practical actions; rather- now is the time to embrace diversity and work on ending climate change together.