Green Bubbles and the Pointy Truth

WARNING: This will be a rant.  I’m pissy and I can’t sleep until I get this off my chest.  But, I figure if it gets me out of my funk and writing again, it can’t be all bad.

I never write about environmental topics.  The reason for this is that on the whole, as a group, I dislike environmentalists.  Unfortunately, the majority are simply looking for an outlet for their own impotent outrage or a way to puff themselves up so that they may feel self-righteous in the face of their neighbours.

No one, of course, wants to believe that they fit either of these descriptions.  But I can tell you, I have been an environmentalist for over a decade and at times both of these descriptions have described me.  Perhaps not all at once, and it is something that I grew out of, but it doesn’t change the facts.

What jolted me out of my shiny green bubble was the undeniable fact that radical environmentalists (Greenpeace, I am looking at you), use half-truths and scare tactics to force their message on others.  While some clearly feel that the ends justify the means, I find it to be entirely unethical and undermining to the goal of the environmental movement. Sadly, it appears to have become standard practise these days.

People like to think that the enemy to environmental politics is “the faceless corporation”.  I would say that a far more insidious enemy is one that most never see or recognize for what it is.  This enemy is rhetoric and dishonesty.  These days it is most easily found in the form of Internet Memes.

This appeared on my Facebook feed today from multiple sources.  And this is exactly what I am talking about.  Deceitful and divisive,  it is designed to either make people feel bad or make them feel superior to their neighbours (I will go into the details of this particular piece of bs later on).

Before I continue my rant, I want you, my readers (especially those who consider themselves environmentalists) to ask yourself, what is the goal of the environmental movement?  What do we hope to achieve?   To live more sustainably?  To live more in harmony with the earth?  To eliminate waste?  To conserve resources?

If you said yes to any of these things then you have to know that a single person, or even a handful of dedicated people will not get us there.  The purpose of the environmental movement at it’s very core is about community building.  It is about getting people to care.

If people care about their neighbours, about their community, about their town, their home, their world, then they will do what they can to help keep it beautiful and healthy.  We need everyone to care.  And we need them to feel like they are helping and making a difference no matter what the level of their participation.

There are a lot of very radical things that we can do in this day and age to significantly reduce our impact on the planet.  Many of these things are too far out in left field for your average, middle class suburbanite to be comfortable with.  They need to be made to feel that what they do contribute is enough.  Walking to the store twice a week instead of taking the car, separating your recyclables from the trash, composting your kitchen waste (or using a garbage disposal) – these are all little things that anyone can do.  And yet many don’t.

Why?  Because they are sick of the rhetoric.  They are sick of being made to feel like they are bad people because they do not live to someone else’s standards.  Thus, we lose those who would otherwise be sympathetic to unfeeling apathy.  And the blame for it belongs squarely on our own shoulders.

Guilt does not build a community.  Support does.  Encouragement does.  Being an environmentalist does not set you apart and above your neighbours.  If you want to be an activist then it is on you to not only live by example, but to encourage and support others.  To make them understand that whatever they can contribute is gratefully accepted, and it is enough.

People who feel comfortable and confident in their choices may decide in the future to take a few steps further.  If everyone did the little things, many of the larger issues would resolve themselves.  Sweden didn’t run out of garbage by having a handful of outraged protesters screaming apocalyptic prophecies because someone carelessly dropped a cigarette butt on the sidewalk.

It’s something I think we should all be thinking about.  And if you want a list of simple ways that you can make a difference at home, check out this article from the Arch Druid, John Michael Greer.

Now, as I promised, the meme above:

First, let me say that grass rarely, if ever needs to be watered.  It is a drought resistant plant.  Just like you don’t need to fertilize the dandelions, your grass will do just fine without any extra water.  If you feel like you need your lawn to look like a putting green, may I suggest that you set up a tent on your local golf course.

Second, as anyone who has worked on a farm will tell you, tearing up your back yard in favour of a veg garden is no small matter.  Now, I am not one to tell people not to go dig in the dirt.  If that is your passion, all the power to you.  If you think you are being some kind of an environmental hero by doing it, you are fooling yourself.

A garden large enough to sustain your family (ie, provide you with enough food that you no longer have to buy produce at the market), will 1) take years to cultivate.  It won’t happen your first year, especially if you have never done the gardening in bulk thing before. 2) It likely won’t fit into your average suburban backyard, meaning, that it is a hobby garden. 3) It is like working a second full-time job.  You have to be out there every day.  Just ask any farmer. 4) It isn’t immune to water rationing restrictions.  When they call for you to stop watering, it isn’t just the lawns, it is the gardens too.  And unlike grass, a garden will wither and die if not watered and fertilized.

If you love gardening and want a few extra home-grown goodies at your table, by all means, go crazy!  It is one of the most useful skills you can have.  If you are looking for a way to lessen your environmental impact, however, you are better served by supporting your local farmers and using less disposable packaging (bring reusable mesh bags for your veggies).

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2 thoughts on “Green Bubbles and the Pointy Truth”

  1. I do prefer to see gardens then lawn, in fact I have seen small yards with mostly garden then grass which is pretty cool, I guess the desire for gov to prevent this is that it means you won’t buy as much food from their corporate stores, after all when has gov ever been about true justice or protecting rights of people? I have yet to see that happening in the last 20 years.

    1. Farmers are members of our community too. Supporting your local farms helps your local economy, does wonders for your health, and it helps the environment by lessening the amount of produce that has to be shipped in from around the world.

      Gardens are great. I love having them, though mine are mostly herbs. But they aren’t for everyone, and they are a lot of work. I just prefer that people be free to make informed choices without feeling that they must bend to the bias and misinformation of someone who creates a webgraphic.

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