Getting Closer to Green | Seventh Generation
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Getting Closer to Green

Author: abbybrooks

When my girlfriends and I get a rare slice of time to hang out sans husbands and children, the topics of conversation remain largely the same: husbands and children.  But the last time we were together we also spent some time talking about the varying degrees of green within our circle. 

I have one friend who is hardly green at all.  She recycles only when it is convenient, or in other words, when she happens to be standing next to a recycling bin. Talking with her about why it is important to live a green life, I walk the fine line between encouragement and preaching.  She's usually open to making more informed choices, but has a tough time committing if the practice is too difficult to incorporate into her normal routine. 

I must say, I understand where she's coming from.  I also find it difficult to do every green thing I would like to do.  For example, I would love to plant a vegetable garden, but find the idea of adding an extra chore to my daily routine daunting.

Another friend in our circle beats me with her green efforts.  She eats organic food, cleans only with green products, and is a very creative recycler.  This is the friend who introduced me to Seventh Generation when I was searching for a safe cleaning option to use in my home when my daughter was born three years ago.  I am always impressed by her constant attention to conservation.  She's great about not wasting energy in her home, no light is on unnecessarily; the air conditioning is kept super low and her family knows to dress accordingly. 

The best thing about her green stature is that she does it because she truly cares -- both about her family and about the future of the planet. I envy her conviction!

I'm in the middle in the group, the one who is always striving to be more green.  I swear by my favorite Seventh Generation products and spread the word every chance I get.  I conserve energy as much as possible and recycle even when it's a pain.  But I know that there's a lot more that I could do to incorporate green living into my family's daily life. 

What tips have you picked up from those super-green friends out there?  And what ideas do you share with those who are less green?

photo: sidewalk flying



Mary picture
Making changes doesnt have to be expensive. Composting and recycling for example are free where I live (besides paying taxes) I dont have a fancy composter or bucket, composter is a few planks that hold it together and I use a bowl to carry it out there. It isnt time consuming as you need to do something with the trash anyway. Its a change in mindset and and remembering to peel the potatoes into the bowl. We love the reusable lunch mats and bags, but a cloth napkin would keep a sandwich until lunchtime too. We could improve by turning the lights, tv etc off, but getting four young kids to learn will be a long battle.
AuroraBorealis picture
I am single, and I live on my own, so I feel I automatically have less to tackle when it comes to completing tasks that revolve around being more environmentally friendly (i.e., I have less load than I would have if I had a family). My biggest contribution to being more friendly is to not drive. Of course there are two very big reasons that I don't own a car. I cannot afford a car right now (I am personally surprised many people as I see driving still CAN), and I live literally less than three blocks away from my work where I make almost all my purchases. So as it can be seen, neither of the two reasons I don't drive had to do with the environment, but in the long run it the environment has benefitted by me being one less driver on the road! If I need to get somewhere that is in another part of the city I live in, I take public transportation. Unfortunately the city bus I use doesn't run on the weekends and doesn't run 24 hours a day; it runs Monday thru Friday 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m; this is not conducive to people like me who have college and a wacky work schedule that requires errands to be run around the wacky schedule at equally wacky times, but I am hoping that the more people leave their vehicles at home and work with our public transportation the sooner that the weekend hours and/or daily running hours will improve with the increase in income in higher rider turnout. And anyone knows that putting money into our local economy is better than putting money into another country's economy, so I hope I am making an impact albeit small on my local city's economy by paying for its services. If anyone needs more incentive for taking public transportation, in the off chance that they have been thinking about switching, here's a very good reason beyond the environmental and economical benefits: Think about when you are at a traffic light and wish you were in the lane of cars that just got the right of way to continue driving. Think about when you feel rushed and feel like all the cars ahead of your car are driving too slow. Think about when a driver cuts you off, and you get momentarily frustrated or visa-versa. Now think about how it would be when you get on a public bus or subway. Do you have to worry about how you had to stop again, how the drivers ahead may be driving too slow, or have to deal with frustrated drivers or being a frustrated driver yourself? No. Lo and behold, you could listen to music, read a book, knit, or have a conversation with someone on your way to wherever you are going! Especially in this day and age, you are doing a service to yourself (in more ways than one) -- creating less stress for yourself and much less of an expense; your economy -- putting money into a local service; and the environment -- producing no fumes! I for one have only experienced one truly frustrating moment while riding the bus that involved a situation the bus driver was very irritated with, because he had to slam on his brakes (a bike rider cut off the bus driver and almost got himself run over, tried to ignore the bus driver trying to demand his attention, and then rode faster ahead, when the bus driver asked him what he thought he was doing, when the bus driver caught up to him). Otherwise, some routes with certain riders can be entertaining, and you can zone out by doing what you want to pass the time to wherever you are going! :)
Allerganx picture
We use natural green bio-based cleaning solutions. This customer sensitive option provides the same great CArpet cleaning with the least possible chance of chemical irritation or allergic reaction.
Laurel peltier picture
Laurel peltier
Oh, have I also spent years thinking about this topic. In my not-so-green City of baltimore, I'm super green. Here is my answer; I started a newsletter, 4 bullet points only, right to the point, and the green message comes in the back door. Example; buy green electricity it saves you money; do green detergents matter and who cares. Check it out! You'd love it. I have found if the "green" message isn't breaking through to a large group, it needs to be tailored for matter how painful it is to me. I also give fun green gifts; the re0usable straws have been big, I give green detergents as a party gift (for the hostess who will be washing dishes until 1am). I've learned patience! Hard. I also believe any shade of green is ok. By leaning into green people slowly get there.
peteachershannon picture
When I find a great green product I love, I flaunt it! I show my friends the cute re-usable sandwich and snack bags I use for my kids lunches. Companies out there like PBGreen, for example make such cute designs:) Also, I point out that some of the green products I buy can be found where so many of us already shop like Target. We don't need to shop at specialty stores although the selection is much better at stores such as Whole Foods. Just remember, every time we purchase a product we are "voting" as consumers on what we want manufacturers to produce. There is power in our choices.
lpsample picture
Many of the green changes I've made are free or cheaper than the conventional way. I use cloth napkins and don't use disposable utensils or plates, keep the house a few degrees cooler in the winter, use only cold water for laundry, recycle and compost as much as possible which dramatically reduces our actual trash, use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide for cleaning, use reusable containers for food storage. I've made gradual changes over the years, and I'm always trying to get better. I don't try and push my views on others, but when they come to my house, they see the green practices I've incorporated into my routine.
queenelizabeth picture
I am a very green person but I don't do it all. I can not afford to eat organic food. I have attempted to compost food waste but find it time consuming. We have to feel comfortable with what we do for the environment. If everyone would do something, our environment would be in better shape. Suggest to your friend to do one thing. If she has children, teach them to do that one thing.
kbrownnc picture
Our household is one of green vs not green. I am my Grandmother's caregiver, and she will continuously ask for a napkin even when I have given her a cloth napkin. So we have one set of items for her and one for me. I think I come about in the middle, and the things I do are second nature and simple. There are definitely things I would like to organic (expensive), grow more organic veggies (started, but only have tomatoes), have rain barrels, compost and I'm sure many more. I do use green products in the house, no bleach or chemicals...down to my toothpaste and deodorant and I use cloth napkins and dish rags. Just as I used to be a "brand snob", I have become a different type of "brand snob". Not only do I like to use products that are all natural or organic, but I like to buy those products from companies that environmentally responsible. Just as I used to have certain items I would buy, I now have certain items I reuse. And when I do buy, I try to get items that can be reused in some way. Yes, being green can be expensive and hard (my parents do not have recycling even offered in their area), but for most things, it's just a switch in how you look at things, and changing the brands you buy.
ckubinsk picture
I believe it is a preconceived notion that it is "hard to be green" and "costs too much". It honestly isn't hard at all, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to be green. You just have to think about it and make the right choices. Even though most companies sell "greener" products for prices higher than normal items, it takes a simple change of focus to sweep off your back deck than use the hose to wash it off, dump your magazines in the recycle bin rather than the trash, sign up for online credit card statements to avoid mailings, and so forth. I've even made a compost bin to dump my food and yard scraps in out of storage bins with holes drilled in the sides, and now I have good soil for my flowers and veggies.
elizabeth karre picture
elizabeth karre
I agree with David--I wish we had to pay the true price for many of our choices. We often don't see the effects of our lifestyle decisions on the environment, on the people who work for unlivable wages in dangerous conditions, or on animals. What makes my life more convenient may cause a lot of suffering for others. I'm pretty "out there" in terms of my environmental consciousness but I try really hard not to preach at all. Many of my new habits now are informed by things I observed others doing years ago: using hankies/rags/cloth napkins, riding my bike for transportation, bringing my own containers to buy in bulk or for takeout. So I try mostly just to have my stuff, show up on my bike, etc. Sometimes it's weirdly embarrassing to admit some of the things we do at home, but I think it's important to occasionally "out" myself just to show that we make a lot of assumptions about how things "have" to be. I admitted to my parenting group that we use rags for toilet paper, flush rarely, and I use cloth menstrual pads. But, of course, if you come to visit, you'll find a clean toilet, a roll of toilet paper, and no visible Lunapads in my bathroom!
Sustainability Enthusiast picture
Sustainability Enthusiast
For those of us passionate about sustainable products and living, it's easy to overwhelm those who aren't. Listen to what matters to your less-than-green friends and find a product or practice that fits with their passions and, even better, offers an enhanced experience. They'll see care and can serve as an ongoing partner in lower impact living.
EarthMother picture
One step at a time I have become more and more green. When visiting with family or friends I try to encourage them to recycle if they don't already; and if they don't -- I take what can be recycled with me; I just ask them to make a set it aside for me, and they do. Another thing, I'll give cotton napkins and dish towels as gifts to encourage using them instead of paper towels and napkins. I could go on and on but the thing is to make people aware that they too can do more to live green; and I have seem some small changes here and there. Shame on those who simply don't care - but I keep trying!
lorid941 picture
one of the best things i have done, is buy "wrap-n-mats", cloth bags, and canteen bottles for my kids' lunches. i have used them almost everyday for years; school, camp, picnics, sporting events, etc. they are WONDERFUL. i wash them and hang to dry, but i have tossed them in the washer a few times for a really good wash... i have saved so much $ on zip top bags, and saved landfills from plastic. they're not even that expensive; and more than pay for themselves in a short time.
david picture
So is the only "green" change we can encourage most people to do is to buy something different? That seems pretty shallow to me. If we really cared about doing more for our environment, the earth, or our livelihood, then we wouldn't see it as "one more daunting chore," but as a worthwhile commitment. Being green isn't supposed to be easy. Taking the easy way is how we got into this mess.
cece picture
Have you looked into chemical free cleaning, such as Activeion, H2, Shaklee, PerfectCLEAN, Norwex, Ladybug/TANCS steam vapor...where clean, sanitize, and disinfect are all achieved with water and an energy source (electricity and/or heat)? There's usually at least one cleaning company in every town moving in this direction. Seventh Generation is definitely a pioneer in greening its chemicals way beyond government standards, but at the end of the day, it is still chemicals, which leave a residue that gets on children's hands and pets' paw...and then in their mouths. Safer definitely, but not the safest possible option.