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What Does It Mean To Be Green?

Today we are happy to welcome Joseph Kennedy, Environmental Copywriter, for his first guest post on Green Coworking Europe. In this article, Joseph will be exploring the question ‘What does it mean to be green?’ from various perspectives.

For the open-minded individual, to be green means to keep the Earth and its health in your thoughts, to make sustainable decisions and avoid choosing harmful ones, to reduce your carbon footprint, to adjust your habits and preconceptions, and to try and have a more positive impact throughout your lifetime.

Green business?

You’ve probably noticed that the business world has started shifting and really beginning to embed sustainability and green thinking into its core. Larger organisations are performing regular Life Cycle Assessments and are raising points about being better for people and the planet in their boardroom meetings. Investors are looking at future-proof ideas, ones that will stand the test of time, avoid ethical scrutinisation, and can provide Earth-friendly solutions.

Suddenly, the potential for things to be both green and highly profitable exists. Just look at renewable energy, bioproducts, mass recycling and alternative diets.

What was wrong with the old methodology?

The last generation deforested to build homes and furniture. They raised animals to be sold as food. They cleared land for grazing. And they raised factories that would pollute the air. We shouldn’t blame them or be annoyed, for they often were unaware of the damages, and were only doing what was deemed successful within that economic model. The new generation hopes for better, and we know that certain activities, ones that contribute to global warming, pollution, endangering animals, deforestation, and more, must be slowed down, stopped, and reversed.

Part of being green is acknowledging the things that are not green. We must learn from mistakes in order to find the right way and the best practices. The heightened awareness that we have now could not have been reached had we not suffered and experienced environmental problems first hand, and found the scientific links. For businesses, the starting point is trying to figure out how to solve the problems that they create for the environment.

be green
These frogs are not as green as they seem. Can we continue on the ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ methodology? I think not, as the environment cannot speak for itself. We must become green and unite with the environment.

What are some people and industries doing to be green?

Some of the world’s biggest brands and polluters have made significant strides in recent years to undo their damages. They’ve switched to alternative energy sources, like biofuels and wind farms. They’ve invested in electric car fleets with solar charging capabilities. They’ve made their products energy efficient. They’ve integrated recycled materials and made their own products recyclable. They’ve worked their way through supply chains to make products, services, and logistics more efficient. They’ve looked at reducing carbon footprint and air pollution. They’ve started solving problems instead of creating them. They’ve gone back to the drawing board and asked ‘What products should we make?’, ‘How do we package them?’, and ‘What materials are deemed friendly?’

What about the general population?

For the general citizen, being green is a different concept. Businesses are trying to sell something, whereas general citizens are the ones who make constant decisions about what they purchase, how they get around, and how they spend their time.

If you were to ask a very green person for some advice on things that you could do, some immediate changes, to be greener, their advice may look like this:

  • Save energy. Lower your thermostat, get LED light bulbs, unplug appliances, wash clothes at a lower heat, use a clothes horse instead of a tumble dryer.
  • Save water. Take short showers instead of baths, get a low-flow showerhead, change how you do your gardening.
  • Walk or cycle more. Leave the car at home if you can, or take public transport to share your carbon footprint with other passengers.
  • Eat differently. Meat has a high carbon footprint, so try to reduce consumption. Buy local and organic food.
  • Avoid chemicals. Cleaning chemicals are very avoidable, you can make home solutions instead with things like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
  • Buy in bulk. Bigger packaging is better as the ratio compared to the contents is higher. Buy long-lasting or concentrated items like dish soap.
  • Learn to borrow or buy secondhand. Borrow from your friends and family, or from libraries, or from a loved one. You don’t always need new stuff, there are great items in charity shops and on local freecycle pages.
  • Say no to: plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws, and items with microbeads.
  • Repair and reuse. Try to be less wasteful with food, with clothing, or with technology. Food cuttings can make soups, broken clothes can be fixed or used as tea towels, and technology can often be repaired or salvaged.

There are way more ways to live green, but these are some of the best core ideas. So, the next time somebody asks you ‘What does it mean to be green?’ you now have some ammunition both from a business and a personal perspective.

Thanks, Joseph! Read you here again soon! 

And what about you, dear readers? What does it mean to you to be green? Let us know with a comment.

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