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What does Green mean?

Green. We see it everywhere. We hear it all the time. We’re starting to roll our eyes whenever an advertisement uses the term, or a new product splashes the word across their packaging with retro-styled plants and flowers seeming to grow out of it. There are Green Guides, Green Building Councils, Green books, Green blogs, and even a Green Party. But what does “Green” mean?


Green is a restful color, the color of nature. So there’s no surprise that it has been chosen to represent the environmental movement. In the past few years, green has taken on a life of its own becoming a catchphrase for everything from cleaning products to gasoline to savings accounts. The concept of Green can easily overwhelm. The idea that all people must be convinced to live a carbon-neutral life of self-powered transportation, 30-second showers, and backyard organic gardens is enough to send anyone packing to their Hummers and fast-food dinners.


When we imagine a “Green” person, we see a vegetarian hippy riding her second-hand bike to a rally combating nuclear energy. Green doesn’t have to be extreme, or unattainable, or even daunting. It can be undemanding, refreshing, and satisfying. Becoming Greener means being aware of yourself and your impact on the world, and making changes to reduce that impact a little at a time.


Choose one new behavior to try out – reducing garbage, bringing your own bag to the store, or installing a programmable thermostat. When that becomes a habit, come up with another idea. It’s when the majority of people start making these changes that we begin to impact the planet in a positive way.


Last week, I asked my fifth-grade students what one thing they could do to reduce the amount of garbage they produce. I was amazed by the ideas they came up with. What ideas do you have to green up your life?

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