Thinking Green When You’re in the Red

Hard Times Are a Good Time to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

In the July issue of Elle magazine, the Editor’s Letter reads, “Unemployment hovers around 9 percent, and people feel they can no longer afford the luxury of trying to live consciously.” Roberta Myers, editor-in-chief of Elle, penned this in the magazine’s green issue. This got me thinking: Isn’t this the ideal time to be conscious of the way in which we live?

Unemployment is a huge problem in the United States—yet we seem to miss the point. Shouldn’t making less money drive us toward consuming less and wasting less?

Living consciously is not a luxury; it requires commitment and creativity. If we choose to “go green,” we have to change our mentality, a hard thing to do when we’re accustomed to seemingly unlimited water running from our sinks and great access to gasoline and energy. Budgets should start to convert us into semi-environmentalists. Things as common as long showers, bottled water, and leaving the lights on should be concerns of ours at this critical stage in our economy.

During tough times, we are challenged as thinkers and workers to come up with and produce solutions to our problems. The environment, as well as the economy, challenge our ability to adapt. The decision to live green—or not—is often presented grimly as a life-or-death choice, and there could come a day when we will be saddened to hear that it’s too late to make the change. But for now, we still have every day to correct and continue our practices toward a happier Earth.

Green ideas have been seeping into many aspects of our lives. I’m often surprised when I don’t find a recycling bin in a home. Sometimes I’ll even ask if I’m mistaken and there actually is a recycling bin somewhere in the vicinity. An owner will get embarrassed if caught without one (this has happened). It’s more than a trend. It’s the lifestyle of our near future.

With change in our pockets and productive minds, we should welcome this inevitable shift. The economy is pushing us to go green, and the media is pushing us to go green. Not until I read Myers’s opinion did I think that we were still having doubts about being green. Are we retrograding into the thoughts of those two decades ago?

When green was not so big as it is now—and gas prices weren’t so high—we weren’t called upon to think so much about “living consciously.” Let’s kill two birds with one stone: Take advantage of the unemployment rate to begin living in a different way, preferably green. Now is the time to put our time and energy into our majestic environment.


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