Friday, 9 January 2009

Doing The Green Thing

by Gavin, The Greening of Gavin.

How hard can it be going green? Fairly simple, it just takes the will power to start living that way. One small action is all it takes. I believe that once you put your mind to it, doing the green thing is very infectious. Once I caught the bug, my immediate family followed, and so has some of my extended family. I certainly didn't force any of them to clean up their act, or yell and scream at them to stop wasting resources, I just changed my behaviours and I acted according to my new core values.

Over time they saw how much I cared about doing the right thing by the planet, they in turn started behaving differently too. Then I turned to writing about my actions via The Greening of Gavin, and then more people became inspired, and started behaving similar to the way I do. I like to think about it as a snowball rolling down a hill. Once it gets started, it gains momentum and picks up extra snow on the way down. By the time it reaches the bottom of the hill, it is really huge and a powerful force of nature. Sounds a bit like a groundswell to me, and that is exactly what it is.

By one individual simply deciding one day to change the way that they behave, and by taking small but deliberate steps towards reducing their carbon or environmental footprint, then others around them take notice. They ask questions of the changed person, and then think that there must be something in this or the original person wouldn't have changed. Then they begin to change their outlook as well. First it is a small thing, like changing their light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights, or signing up to GreenPower, and they feel good about what they have achieved. Eventually they ask more questions, begin to question the status quo, and do more research about what is really happening to the planet. Little do they know, that by their own simple actions, they begin to be noticed by others and so the cycle self perpetuates and continues.

So, you may not think that the small green thing that you just did didn't get noticed, but believe me, it did. If you take a ceramic coffee mug (instead of getting a disposable cup) to the coffee shop to get your take-away skinny latte each day, people around you take notice. They may even stop and think about your action. When you take reusable grocery bags to the supermarket instead of getting your shopping loaded into plastic bags, people take notice. I have even seen some feel so guilty because they didn't have reusable bags, that they actually bought some with their shopping to load their groceries into. That makes a difference. Once that person (who I unintentionally coerced into buying bags) goes home, they might stop and think why they felt that way, or acted differently, and might take another small step in the right direction. See what I mean. It is catching!

Even growing your own food is contagious. I have shown quite a few people around my garden, and within a few weeks or months, they too begin to grow their own food. I then point them in the right direction and answer as many questions as I can. Doing the green thing becomes second nature to them as well. Just like in the movie "Field of Dreams", if you build it, they will come. I didn't do anything special, just showed them around my patch in my normal enthusiastic manner. They could see and feel my passion for the food, my love of the chickens, the care I take with each plant's needs, and these kinds of emotions are a persuasive force and more powerful than some realise.

So go ahead, what are you waiting for? Give doing the green thing a try, and see how you like it. Your simple actions may cause a groundswell in your sphere of influence. If you have already notice that you have recently influenced someone in a simple, green or frugal way, let me know your story via a comment. All the co-op team would love to read them!


Susan said...

We had out of state friends visiting us over the holidays, and while they stayed with us they picked up on several of our "green" and "simple" practices. When they first arrived and we showed them around the house, they asked why we had all our clothes hanging out to dry, so we explained that we don't use a clothes dryer anymore. Later, when they needed to do some laundry while at our house, they gave line drying a go. We cooked several healthy meals at home rather than wasting resources to go out to eat, and they were soon sold on making their own bread and pizza dough as a result. They also saw how easy composting table scraps is (and how much stuff they usually just threw away was actually compostable) and were eager to get a bin and to try that when they went home, too.

changingways said...

I think I have converted both my MIL and mum over to cloth nappies. I never said anything to either of them about why I did it, I just showed off cute modern cloth nappies I got and over time they came to me to ask questions. Of course they have both finished having kids but have gone on to convert at least 2 people each on the benefits of cloth nappies, I often catch both of them talking up cloth nappies and how beneficial it was to their grandchildren, especially my eldest who suffered from eczema when wearing disposables.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I'm pretty sure the people I've shown what I do around the house and garden (or at least things I'm not embarrassed to admit I'm doing - I usually don't spring the peeing on my plants thing) hasn't had one lick of influence.

Generally, it's fair to say they just think I'm a nutjob. Best case is they think what I'm doing is interesting, but not something they would bother with themselves.

So, it really depends on what you are doing, too. Trading out lightbulbs for CFLs and recycling is one thing, but using cloth wipes, line-drying clothes, growing your own food, etc. are another.

Em said...

It's true, that the more people see something around them, the more that thing becomes normal - we've probably all seen that this can work for good and bad.

Usually when other people ask why we do something that they find unusual, I give them a practical reason. Or tell them that home grown potatoes are the most divine thing to eat - then give them a bag to take home ;)

The deeper reasons are too confronting for most people in the beginning.

But it is a wonderful thing to see people around you "getting it"... 5 of my close friends have all begun their own vege patches over the last year and all of them say it was after seeing and eating from ours. They now talk about other things, like co-ops and energy awareness. I'm so happy for them to find their own way, b/c I think once you begin at the small things, you become aware of more and bigger things, and so it goes that you self-teach.

Cabbage Heart said...

You know I am a GOG Conversion, the little Sister .... nearly 40 and STILL following the Big Brother around...sigh! I'm glad though the monkey see monkey do is living green and simple instead of another type of lifestyle. I could never go back to living on the edge again. Life certainly looks brighter thanks to my Big Brother and his simple garden. Love ya Gav.

Karen said...

This is true - I feel so guilty when I go food shopping and see people bringing their own bags. Unfortunately I have not found a way on how to get rid of these plastic bags (I use them for my rubbish). How do I dispose of rubbish without them? I have not been able find a satisfactory way yet!!

Green Bean said...

I so agree with this post! I started with one small step - bring my own bags to the market. It got me thinking and I just kept on going down that path.

I do think people notice and the more who do, well, there will be someone who goes home, thinks about it and then starts their own journey.

Chookie said...

Karen, it's harder to get rid of plastic bags than you think. I also use mine for rubbish, and despite trying not to get them, I still have plenty. My ILs wrap their rubbish in newspaper (in the way you do for fish and chips).

Leilani said...

Karen, I also felt guilty not using the "green" bags when buying groceries. I always managed to forget them at home so I put them in the car. As you can guess I then forgot them in the car. Eventually I decided that if I forgot them I would have to buy more bags and therefore set up a consequence which as it turns out cured me of my forgetfulness. It only took one big shop which set me back an extra ten dollars for me to start to get my act together. The next time I forgot I didn't want to pay for more bags so I left my trolley and dashed to the car to fetch them. Damn inconvenient. Wadda ya know....I have never forgotten the bags since.

Anyway back to the purpose of my comment. I was then also faced with the bin liner problem.

We have 5 chickens and in their run is our compost heap which they kindly turn over for use for the fee of first dibs on scraps. We also have 2 dogs who love our meaty left overs. I realized that between these two there was very little in the way of rubbish that required containment in a bag. We recycle all our paper, bottles and metal. Food products go to the compost heap, chooks or dogs.

I decided to just put all other rubbish in the bin and tip it straight in the outside bin for collection when full. My husband was a bot dubious about this so I agreed that if he found it too disgusting we would go back to plastic bags. A month later and we are still plastic bag free and I have only had to rinse out the bin once. I actually had to clean it out more when we used plastic bags because I wasn't as consciencious about my wast management.

Leilani said...

Hi Crunchy, Whilst you have never shown me around your home personally, you have shared so much of what you do, through your blog. Your Blog was one of the first that I read as my interest in a sustainable living began to grow. It certainly inspired me to push my comfort levels further that using the recycle bin. I am now a Diva cup convert and rave about it to anyone who thinks that it is acceptable dinner party conversation. Within 6 months I have planted an orchard, have 6 productive garden beds with a new one being built and have even raised my own seedlings from seed.

As I am not your average "greeny" this change has come as a shock to those around me. Many who have put it down to my OCD personality. Some however have been inspired to give some of the things a go. As for the peeing on plants... whilst I'm not quite there yet, my husband is 'all in' and sees it as his contribution to saving the planet.

So I wouldn't be surprised if, in fact, the difference that you have made to this planet by sharing your life with us is monumental.

farm mom said...

I have noticed this too. Years ago, when it wasn't as hip to be a gardening, chicken raising, self reliant, eco-friendly kind of girl, I was the butt of many a family and friend joke. But now, as times are tough and people's purse strings are tightening, it's amazing how many changes I've seen people around me make and now suddenly I'm more popular than ever! ;)

Chiot's Run said...

I've noticed this as well. Many of our friends are now recycling and turning their lights off when they're not in the room. They also read a little more and watch TV a little less. They enjoy eating my home grown veggies and my raw milk, although I don't think they'll jump on that bandwagon any day soon. They are however, making their flowerbeds bigger and their lawn smaller. Small steps.

Darren (Green Change) said...

I think a lot of people realise that there's something wrong with the way they're living, and know it can't go on forever. But they feel comfort in staying with the crowd and don't want to "do something" and look weird.

Once they see you doing green stuff, it becomes a little less "out there". At least they see someone who brings his own cup to work and takes his fruit scraps home for the compost, so they feel more comfortable doing those things themselves.

Get a few people in your workplace doing these types of things, and the snowball really takes off!