Monday, May 28 , 2018, 1:49 am | Mostly Cloudy 58º


Commentary: Seeking the True Green

Take these six simple steps to turn your everyday habits into green opportunities.

As the presidential election dominates the news, the global scarcity of oil and the advent of climate change manifest in bloody conflicts in Iraq and Georgia, and unstable weather patterns and extreme storms. Movies like An Inconvenient Truth, books like Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and special news reports have sounded the alarm about the unintended consequences on our environment and our lives of a 150-year-old fossil-fuel world economy.

We face a comprehensive crisis. Although our civilization and our very existence depend on a healthy planet, we are causing potentially catastrophic damage to the planetary web of life that sustains us. To thrive we need clean air, clean water, healthy soil, healthy ecosystems, and sustainable sources of food and energy. We must change course or join the dinosaurs in extinction. To find a better way forward we must define progress and well-being in new ways.

In his recent book, Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken says, “In the chaos engulfing the world, a hopeful future resides because the past is disintegrating before us.” Our crisis includes both danger and opportunity. Things can get worse but they can get better, too. The net direction of change depends on the decisions we make and the actions we take. There is a movement toward a more sustainable future that is not in the headlines. Hawken’s book describes the emerging global movement for social justice, indigenous rights and environmental responsibility. Worldwide there are more than 1 million citize nonprofit organizations addressing these issues. Click here for further information.

Activism is a key part of the global movement for change. Action on a personal level is also essential. You can make a difference. The transformation can begin with each of us as individuals and flow outward through our families and our communities to create a better world. Environmentally friendly choices that are more sustainable than other products and services are called “green.” Now that almost everyone is claiming to be green we need to distinguish between what seems green and what is truly green. How can we learn to make the best choices?

Here are six easy ways to turn everyday habits that seem green into actions that truly make a difference:

1. Since paper shopping bags are biodegradable they seem green, but they take four times more energy to manufacture than plastic bags. True green is bringing a cloth or mesh tote to carry purchases wherever you go.

2. Clothing made from bamboo seems green since it comes from a renewable resource, but turning it into clothing-ready fabric is energy intensive. Classic, timeless pieces made from quality fabrics are true green. Cashmere, silk and linen can be produced in an eco-friendly way and the longer you wear your clothing, the further the investment goes.

3. Redecorating your home with a new eco-friendly sofa seems green. True green is upgrading furniture you already own or find in a thrifty local vintage shop. This saves 95 percent of the energy required to make a new piece of furniture.

4. Recycling your disposable plastic water bottles seems green but less than 15 percent are actually recycled and bottled water usually isn’t any purer than tap water. True green is sipping tap water from a safely reusable metal bottle.

5. Crackers, chips and puffs made from organic ingredients seem green, but these processed treats still require huge amounts of energy to produce, pack and ship. True green is snacking on organic whole foods from a local source.

6. A hybrid SUV seems green because it is more fuel-efficient than a regular SUV but a compact hybrid is about twice as fuel-efficient. Cutting your carbon emissions and gas costs by slashing the miles you drive with car-pooling, biking or walking is true green.

To learn more, attend the free “Seeking the True Green” class presented by The Sustainability Project and SBCC Adult Education in October. In four weekly sessions at the Santa Barbara Public Library‘s Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St., local experts will explore options for lifestyle, food, money and community. The sessions are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30. Click here for a complete schedule.

Can the old slogans “Think Globally, Act Locally” and “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” be applied now? Can we move toward a locally based community that meets our needs and the needs of future generations? Join us to learn how everyday decisions can make you healthier and happier while making the world a better place.

Architect John D. Kelley is a founding member of The Sustainability Project.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of John Sener
John Sener
"I am known for tenacity, diligence, honesty, and sound decision making with the ultimate goal of closing every transaction to the satisfaction of all involved parties."

Full Profile >