HomeSimple LivingBuying Green Isn’t Enough

Living a simple green life isn’t just about buying greener stuff. We need a major change of consciousness.

Now that many businesses have jumped on the green bandwagon, it is possible to get more ecological versions of food, clothing, vehicles, building materials, and other things. This is to the good. It’s also the case that a lot of the things being touted as green aren’t very. But leaving that point aside for now, the fact is that just buying green is nowhere near enough to keep our environment from being horribly polluted.

I’ve seen television shows where an existing house is made over to be more green, and this consists of things like replacing kitchen appliances and adding more insulation so the house requires less heat. I have never heard a moment of consideration about whether keeping the older refrigerator might be the more ecological choice. (The answer can be yes, in cases where it’s not a truly antique power hog. If you don’t use every square inch inside the fridge, put containers of water inside to help hold the cold by acting as thermal mass.)

Our society is based on the importance of buying things. For example, people want the economy to “grow” so the economic downturn will be over. It is so implicit in our culture that it’s very, very hard for the thinking to get beyond it. If the growth causes pollution somewhere, well, that’s a detail.

Gradually, this emphasis on buying is beginning to change. When I am in store now, looking for a particular item, I find I am more resistant to other impulse purchases than I used to be. I don’t just decide based on what I can afford, but also on what the planet can afford. I am not alone in this.

A major change in consciousness is daunting to contemplate. Is it going to happen? Dunno. What would it look like if it did? Dunno. But I have some clues, and they go back to the wisdom expressed in every religion and spiritual tradition: Love your neighbor as yourself. I take this to mean. Love the people everywhere in the world who are suffering from the environmental degradation caused by industrialism. Love our earth and our environment enough to live more simply.


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