That’s what we are lead to believe, it seems, as we are inundated on a daily basis by messages telling us that our fast-paced, apparently selfish modern lifestyles are collectively taking their toll on our planet: rising gas prices, carbon “footprints,” Al Gore, grocery stores urging us to go “bagless”... And is it me, or is the air feeling just a little bit thicker than yesterday? All of these, whether viewed on television, felt in the wallet, or subjective, make us question our current lifestyles and whether we, in our day to day lives, really need to ditch the car and get a Segway, or simply continue with our daily routines as normal.
However one wants to look at it, it is undeniable that we are flooded with messages about the environment and its relation to ourselves. These messages, however, tend to be mixed.
On the one hand, we have the more commonly seen reminders and urges to think about our ecosystem and our personal impact on it. It has become a fad. It has got to the point that companies are using it as a selling point; reformulating or repackaging an existing version of their product in order to convince the average consumer that they are helping the environment by purchasing their product.
Even in real estate, developers, such as those responsible for the “conservation community” Rhapsody Cove near Bourbonnais, Il, who entice would-be environmentalists with the notion of preserving a small piece of wetland. Now, not only can you spend a small fortune on a new, swanky home, you can help preserve a small area of wetland by living on land that used to be a larger area of wetland.
One can’t blame the developers, though, because they are just jumping onto the marketing bandwagon. The notion of going “green” has truly reached a point in our society wherein it has almost seeped into every crevice of our lives whether we like it or not. And a number of people don’t. Because while we are urged to strive for a higher level of eco-consciousness in one ear, there are a number of people whispering a vastly contradictory message in the other.
Self proclaimed conservatives, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh and others, tell us that the recent wave of eco-consciousness in the media is nothing more than fear-mongering based on misinformation. We’re told that, while our cars are emitting potentially noxious fumes into the air, there is no concrete evidence to prove that it is linked to the melting ice caps. (Even going as far as to call global warming a “hoax.”) So while we are frequently scolded and urged to lessen our carbon footprint, it ultimately might not matter as much as we may think.
So what are we to believe? Do we get rid of our cars, pull up stakes and move to a grass hut in the woods - living off the land in an attempt to shrink our carbon “footprint”? Or can we just continue in our daily lives and not give another thought towards the state of our planet?
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to determine just what their level of eco-consciousness should be.
To help with this, there are a number of resources one can look into in order to research “going green.” Locally, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (www.architecture.org.) is holding an exhibit called “Green with Desire,” (Running now though September 5, 2008) which looks at all of the ins and outs of modern sustainable living in homes that aren’t necessarily designed for such.
Online, there are a number of sites, such as Campaign Earth (www.campaignearth.org), Green Living (www.green-living.com), or the Environmental Health Center - Dallas (www.ehcd.com) which researches pollutants from a variety of sources, in and around the home. All of these are great resources to help one decide how to be eco-conscious, if at all.
Like religion, everyone is going to have different views on how we should be treating the Earth. While some may believe the only way towards the Earth’s salvation is to “live off the land,” other may feel that simply bringing your own bag to the grocery store is good enough. Yes, it probably is a good idea for everyone to try and be a little more eco-conscious, but it’s up to the individual to decide just how much is “a little.”
And while this “green fad” is just that: a fad, it is at least forcing us all to take a look at our current ecologically-relative habits, and what they truly are doing to the environment. And in the end, something is at least better than nothing. Right?