Going green is included in just about everything these days. There is green food, green clothing, green homes, green energy, green gadgets, and just about anything in existence is classified as green. What this means is that the products are sustainable and make a small imprint on the earth. For example, you might use less oil-based products and more plant products because it is sustainable and healthier for humans. This is a great trend that has caught on because of the growth in high educational attainment and in the recent trend of huge price increases in poor-quality commodities. Additionally, the recent gas spike, alone, helped a ton of people decide to go green.
The trend is heavily product focused. You need the right green food because you will live longer and be healthier. You need some hemp fabric because it is so much better for your skin. The list goes on and on. It is great that we have green products, but you can get lost in all the details. We need to remember that being green is more than just buying the right things. It is a way of life that brings solidarity and harmony to one’s life and society.
All Living Things Connected
Can you see the happiness of a child compared to that of an adult? How can you feel the joy of a baby or a puppy? The joy of each living thing comes from being connected in a spiritual way. It doesn’t always make sense. For example, babies and children have little control over their surroundings and yet they are so happy. What makes sense is that we are learning through our culture that happiness comes from a certain way of life. We might call it the good life. It usually has something to do with a house, an education, a nice car, and family vacations.
Fortunately, there are true green enthusiasts that understand the connection to the earth in a different way. In the movie, Into the Wild, the main character says that life was the most exciting when he was penniless. This is a true story of a man who gave up all his possessions and burned his money on a quest to connect with God.
Native Americans have long understood the relationship between connectedness to earth and joy in life. The earth gives to each of us and in return, we should give back. Many cultures believe that God rewards Good for Good and Evil for Evil. You do something good and it comes back to you. Hence, do a lot of good things to and for people.
How Does Green Living Connect Us?
First and foremost green living gets you to think about how we all interact in society. It is more altruistic because your main focus is not maximizing every dollar. Your focus changes from consuming as much as possible to consuming what you need responsibly and giving of yourself. Many people in this trend will say that one day it just hit them that the only thing they will leave on the earth when they pass on is their legacy. And, how do you leave a legacy? You need to connect with people and make a difference to those around you. You’re not going to do that sipping cokes, and watching 35 hours of television a week.
Living Simple and Green
It all starts with little changes. One good thing to do is to sit down and make a list of all the items you regularly purchase and put a w (want) or n (need) by the item. If you are truly honest, the needs are not really all that high. Many of us are struggling because of our wants without realizing it. It’s still fine to plan for wants and to have them. The important thing is where your focus lies. Does your focus help you connect (happiness) or disconnect (unhappiness)? At some point, many in the green movement will actually feel a sense of relief from not purchasing items. There is that rush and good feeling from shopping that a lot of people get. However, the more connected you feel, the less your desire will be for shopping. And, in fact, many will eventually feel a sense of true peace without longing for any one thing. Some people in the green movement actually feel sorry for these obsessive materialists. They don’t do it mockingly, but sincerely want everyone around them to feel the same connectedness.
Some Green Steps
The first thing for many of us is that we start to recycle things. We find a certain joy in knowing that we are being good stewards of what we have. Then, the big jump might come from purchasing a green car or a green wardrobe. Some of us might just think it’s a cool thing to do.
The biggest step, perhaps, is when you start to simplify your life. It’s different for everyone. You might want to drink out of one cup instead of using several every day. You may go through your home and eliminate items not being used. In fact, you may start finding joy in getting rid of things because you realize that the less stuff you have the more easily you can be connected. You begin to feel a sense of freedom in spirit that goes beyond the norm. Your style becomes minimalist and purchases are based on holistic ideals that increase connectedness. You will no longer crave, but will instead find intense joy in just being alive. How do you find that joy?
Some spiritual teachers believe that the greatest knowledge of happiness is to know thyself. As William Shakespeare said, “To thine own self is true”. How can you be true to yourself unless you know who you are? This is a hard question, but on the face of it, there are certain things I am sure of. I can connect with living things. I can connect with people much better in person than through television. I can connect to natural products much better than man-made products. The concept of knowing me comes through serving others.
Consumerism and materialism tend to drive much of our culture. The focus, for many, is on self. This inward focus blinds the true self. In some cases, self-concept is stripped away and the void is filled with countless hours of television, food, and shopping. The bigger the void the stronger the feeling of getting more grows because people unconsciously think that the void can be filled with things. It is logical because that is what the culture has taught them from birth. Corporations spend billions of dollars reinforcing the idea that things will make us happy and defining our needs for us. Many of us erroneously believe that we are immune to all the clever advertising.
Wouldn’t it make more sense that we determine our own needs? It is vital that we listen to our own hearts. Don’t ignore the little voice inside you! Pay attention to it, follow it, and the voice will get louder. In time, you will become more connected.
We haven’t focused much on products here, but going green is about a lot more than buying the most fuel-efficient car, wearing bamboo clothing, or eating organic foods. Green living is ultimately about solidarity and inner peace.