What’s Your Green?

green quiltNo, my title is not a pickup line overheard at a recent Earth Day festival (though it bloody well could be!).

Instead, what I refer to here is how the environmental movement is far from homogenous if one truly looks at the diversity of individual motives and methods for going green. The green movement is a patchwork quilt, each patch distinct and yet firmly sewn to those around it, all of them sewn together into one single, strong fabric. E Pluribus Unum.

And I think this diversity is a good thing overall. If environmentalism followed a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all paradigm, then I doubt it would ever have been or continue to be a vibrant, viable reality in our lives. More importantly, this diversity allows more and more individuals to practice sustainable living and so reduce humanity’s footprint on the fragile soil of our Earth. In the end, then, every shade of green may be a good one.1

But that statement begs the question: What’s Your Green?

In order to help you answer that very tricky question, I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of some of the many shades of green visible in the world today:

* Single Green Fe/Male: This shade includes any environmentalist actively seeking a significant other. These folks see all Earth Day festivals, rallies, and so forth as opportunities to schmooze and scope for hotties.

* Greenalicious: Any desirable or eye-catching person, place, or thing related to the environment or environmentalism. A frequent term used by the SGFs and SGMs.

* Spring Greening: These people seem to follow the seasons physically and emotionally. They like only spring and summer, when things are warm, alive, and growing. If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, then you fall in this shade.

* Ooey Gooey Green: All the folks who turn into poets, philosophers, and purveyors of grand clichés whenever they see something “beautiful” (meaning just about everything) in nature.

* Virtually Green: These environmentalists spend nearly all their time online and/or otherwise partaking of nature via technology.

* Greed Green: Largely but not exclusively the shade for corporations, this variety goes green only because it brings in plenty of green. One example, and there are many, is this statement from the spokesperson of a very prominent organic produce company: “I’m not necessarily a fan of organic. … Whether we stay with organic for the long haul depends on profitability.”2 Although purists will surely bristle at all signs of this shade, I am not as quick to condemn a business or person for going green only to make a profit. Certainly I would prefer a pure heart in everything, but when companies go green in any way, even if their motives are mixed, they expand the availability of environmentally friendly products, make more people aware of environmentalism and so able to take part, and so in the end help to make a positive impact.

*Greenback: Here you find all the über-rich environmentalists–those folks with eco-friendly mansions, state-sized estates donated as easements and treated as wildlife/habitat preserves, fleets of hybrids, etc. Although Greenback does not necessarily start from a base of Greed Green, it sometimes may.

* Mean Green: As I have discussed in my two-part posting “The Worst Pollution,” many environmentalists adopt extreme measures of rhetoric and action/activism in the process of trying to protect the Earth. While anger is easy and effective to use as a method of pushing the green agenda, I personally find this approach to be counterproductive, self-destructive, and damaging all around. (Remember the Incredible Hulk?) These people have auras that glow like the toxic waste in cartoons and B-movies. (Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?)

* Gloomy Green: Gloomy greens focus on, and feel overwhelmed by, all the bad news and problems with the environment. Missing the forest and the trees, they are constantly depressed–and depressing. For them, there is no hope for a better future–or for any future at all.

* Grumpy Green: Often blending with Gloomy Green, these folks are not only depressed but bitter sourpusses as well. (Remember Oscar the Grouch?)

* Better Off Green: These folks go green simply to be on the safe side, not because they believe it is really all that better than any other mode of living.

* Gang Green: If you go green because everybody else is, because it is trendy and chic and ultra-cool, then you fit in here.

* Green-Eyed Monster: Although very similar and often mixed with Gang Green, this shade is less worried about keeping up with the Joneses than about one-upping them or envying their greenness. But, as the good book sayeth, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wind turbine.

* Grean: These are the well-meaning folks who either 1) would like to go green but simply cannot figure out quite how they should do it or 2) try to be environmentally friendly but end up doing the wrong thing or doing more harm than good.

* Green Lite: This shade includes those individuals who do maybe one or two things–e.g., put in one CFL–but nothing more.

* Green?: These are the skeptics about whether environmentalism is worth bothering over or even necessary. They question most of the arguments for going green, from global warming to the oil crisis, and anyone who believes the “myths.”

* Other Guy’s Green: Similar to the skeptics of Green? The difference, though, is that whether or not they believe going green is necessary and useful, these folks simply leave it for their neighbors to do everything.

* Greenie Weenie: For all the environmentalists you dislike.

* Green Thumb: All the farmers, gardeners, etc. who adopt organic and sustainable methods.

* Ganga Green: Self-explanatory. This green can be tricky to identify, though, because it is often obscured by clouds of smoke.

* Green but Not Forgotten: Here you find all those who were environmentalists before it became cool. May they be praised.

* Greenhorn: At the other end of the spectrum, people of this shade are newly enlisted in the green movement and so bear the green of newly sprouted seeds.

* Going, Going, Green: This hue encompasses all the folks who go all the way. You know, those who bike 20 miles (one way) to work rather than drive (or even own!) a car; who refuse to get electricity in their homes; who have not purchased anything, including food, in years. These are the folks you look up to, shake your head at, ponder over…and maybe even avoid.

* Litigate-A-Green: All the environmental attorneys and activists who fight the good fight in the courtroom and seek to change the laws.

* Yellow+Blue=Green: All the scientists and other academics who do much of the work that informs the environmental movement, whether or not we understand them.

* Sage Green: All the great wise ones–the intellectuals, philosophers, prophets, and other monumental figures who, directly or indirectly, have played an essential role in the environmental movement. Some examples include Chief Seattle, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, and maybe even Al Gore. (Remember Yoda?)

* Gospel of Green: These are the proselytizing greens, those folks who hold signs, pass out flyers, and get up on the soapbox to spread the good word. Although we may pick up our pace when walking by them, we have to admire their fortitude and gumption.

* Gaia Green: The true green against which all greens must be measured. The green of leaves, grass, and all the wonders of nature. Also to be found in the hearts and veins of everyone who loves the great Mother.

Yes, I am glad that we have all these greens to choose from, that the environmentalist quilt covers the Earth in a protective, supportive blanket of good intentions.

So…What’s Your Green?

Image credit: onebyjude at Flickr.
1. There is a wonderful comic strip by the title of Shades of Green, which I highly recommend. You can read it every Monday on Ecoscraps and read an article about it here.
2. Quoted in Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 174.

What other shades can you identify or create? Do you agree that diversity in the environmental movement is beneficial?

One comment
  1. Ari Herzog

    I counted 26 flavors of green. I’m sure there are more, but based on the unordered list I can’t think what they are.

    Call the diversity a patchwork or a mosaic, it can only be a strength. How boring would this world be if everyone thought it flat? OK, maybe a bad analogy but the point remains that just like marine explorers challenged the status quo and turned the view of the world literally upside down, so too is the green movement, in all its flavors, turning popular traditions upside down.

    Just last year, everyone was screaming for CFL bulbs to be installed in every home. This year, I’m hearing more people talk of LED bulbs than CFLs due to increased energy efficiency and less worry about mercury disposal.

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