I have it on good authority, we are all hypocrites. Everyone. In Recipe For A Green Life, I talk about the contentious accusation constantly hurled at those aiming to live a life that is more sustainable, more kind, more conscious and Green. And, how it is, in general, a tactic used to disable, neutralize, and otherwise sabotage the grassroots movement to live differently, and better, for the sake of health and all life. Not only that, but any aiming for a counter-cultural, actually sustainable lifestyle contains both forward and backward movement, as the culture is set up against it in countless ways.
Well, Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society posted commentary on this issue as well, and as usual, his commentary is some of the most true and enlightening that I have read. In the commentary, he reveals that everyone is a hypocrite because we are set up to be, from the time we get a birth certificate and onward. Captain Watson also indicates that the accusations of hypocrite are meant to sabotage our movements and changing lifestyles.
Here is an excerpt from the post Captain Paul Watson made on October 15th on his Facebook page. Click the image to read the entire post, which I highly recommend.
Captain Watson was commenting on a scientific article (Sarah Knapton, Science Editor for The Telegraph, Oct. 10 2017, “Conservationists Take Nine Flights A Year, Despite Knowing Danger To Environment, Study Says.”) shaming conservationists for flying in airplanes. Along with Captain Watson’s entire commentary, I would add that there is most definitely an active concerted effort to shut down those who stand to protect the Earth and her resources, habitats, biodiversity, as well as the birthrights of every living being to clean safe water, air, soil–at the very least. Globally this, year after year, takes the shape of unanswered murders of active conservationists, mostly Indigenous, who risk their lives to protect habitats, species, livelihood, and resources, like water.
Yes, we have all been made hypocrites from the start. I address this in many ways in Recipe For A Green Life. If that is the starting point for everyone and the mire we exist in, everything we do to correct the distortion and destruction is important, yes, vital. Not only that, as we wake up to the dire crises and needs before us, and find we are entrapped, it can feel hopeless. That is until you realize that there are countless choices and actions you can take every day, which have far-reaching and positive influence on life, on the future, and one’s own self-worth. Whenever someone starts pointing the hypocrite finger rather than actually doing something, it is simply a game of power, control, and dominance. Shrug it off, or call foul, and keep going. Don’t stop. Keep going. I would say that the obvious and continuous aims for sabotage of the movement of environmentalists and movements related to it (minimalism, plastic-free, cruelty-free, toxin-free, zero-waste, permaculture, organic, Fair Trade, sustainable diets, environmentalism, conservation, ethical standards and rights, etc), indicate that we have real power to change some things, and we definitely do best to keep going with it, no matter what!
In the words of the recently deceased and beloved musician, Tom Petty:
“Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down
I won’t back down,
No, I won’t back down.” ~ Tom Petty
EIGHT FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES FOR GREEN LIVING
by CS Sherin
(This was previously published in Recipe For A Green Life, chapter three, the following is an edited version, by the author, on October 12, 2017.)
A Summary: Green living is renewable, sustainable, and holistic. Green living is rooted in ethics, personal responsibility, and grassroots efforts. We invest in a Green world, and divest from what isn’t Green. Green living fosters mutually beneficial and healthy relationships, and is based on core values that are rooted in respecting and honoring health, Nature, and all life.
The Eight Foundational Principles For (Sustainable, Renewable, Holistic) Green Living, in-depth:
GREEN LIVING IS RENEWABLE. Ethical practices are employed and adhered to when using and managing materials and resources in a renewable way. The materials and resources themselves are renewable when they are easily and naturally replaced through natural cycles in and of Nature. These cycles must occur in a time frame that allows for renewal of the material or resource so that it may continue to thrive in Nature. Ethically responsible assessment, standards, and management are essential in maintaining balance. From another perspective, one’s own personal life needs to be treated with a renewable approach as well. Our daily choices of what to invest our time, energy, skills, resources, and currency into need to be aligned with renewable practices and standards for self and others. At another level, we make our Green lifestyle renewable through walking our talk and by practicing holistically minded self-care. We must care for ourselves responsibly in order to have enough health and energy for Green actions and values that are transparent and effective. From the personal, to the collective and global, renewable practices and standards are of primary importance.
GREEN LIVING IS SUSTAINABLE. When something is sustainable, a big-picture and long-term perspective is being employed along an ethics-based aim for responsible stewardship of resources, pollution levels, and non-renewable resources, practices, and materials. Successful sustainability means that negative impacts are eliminated and long-term ecological health and balance are maintained. This is the Green living moral code and undertaking. Consumerism, exploitation, factory and other institutional models objectifying life and resources; pollution and toxicity, and materialism are not sustainable, and haven’t been sustainable for some time. These root causes take a heavy and destructive toll on all life on Earth. We, who strive in Green living, see this, and seek to embody sustainability in as many ways as possible, maintaining a perspective for the big-picture and long-term with action, education, and networking. This approach to and of sustainability can be applied to every choice that is made in each day: from the smallest decisions to massive operations in cities, countries, and worldwide. From macro to micro, a dedication to sustainability is applicable in multiple ways, and is of primary importance for health and balance.
GREEN LIVING IS HOLISTIC. We cannot talk about health and balance for people without talking about health and balance for Nature, and how all lives are interconnected. A Green life seeks to maintain that interconnected balance—preserving health, habitats, resources, communities, diversity, and biodiversity. Green living isn’t one niche, such as “plastic-free” or “zero-waste,” “minimalist” or “vegan.” Green living encompasses all of Nature, whole communities of living beings, resources, health, ecosystems, and our one essential ocean, as well as all water sources on and under land. Holistic traditionally means that the medical, mental health, or spiritual care provided addresses and takes into account not just the injury/disease/diagnosis, but the person as a whole. Holistic medical care recognizes that everything about a person (background, genetics, family life, work, education, mobility, hobbies, resources, beliefs, stress levels, effective coping tools in one’s possession, relationships, habits, strengths, disabilities, traumas, opportunity, and internal components as well—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) is all interconnected. A holistic approach, in the traditional context, attempts to ensure that you are not solely identified by or reduced to a diagnosis, which can dehumanize and compartmentalize interrelated issues. Similarly, Green living is best approached holistically. And so, aims for Fair Trade principles for all wages and workers—domestic, foreign, and local. A Green life aims to be toxin-free, single-use plastic-free, cruelty-free, conflict-free, minimalist, and waste-free. A Green life commits to a perpetual aim to be ethically renewable and sustainable in daily choices and actions at home and out in the world. All issues and crises on the planet are symptoms related to the whole. And even though a single person may not be able to directly deal with and address all issues, the holistic mindset and awareness is necessary. Recognizing, facing, learning about, and addressing barriers to Green choices and actions is required in order to effect real and lasting positive change for the better. Barriers to Green living, in general and in broad terms include: organized corruption, abuse, exploitation of life and resources, cruelty, neglect, pollution and waste, lax standards, poor leadership, financial instability, and lack of ethical leadership. In addition, factory, industrial, corporate, and military models for institutions of all kinds, along with discrimination, illness, oppression, and slavery are also contributing barriers and problems. Not all barriers mentioned are directly related to general Green living on a personal and daily level, yet all barriers affect the ability for all to have the freedom and basic rights to a Green life—to healthy water, air, food, relationships, habitats, and homes. A holistic perspective and awareness, as well as a willingness to address any barriers, when there is an opportunity to, are of primary importance.
GREEN LIVING IS ROOTED IN CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVITY, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, AND GRASSROOTS EFFORTS. We (those striving for a Green lifestyle) embrace and encourage critical thinking, adaptability, practicality, simplicity, creativity, and grassroots efforts. We live by and promote ethical standards, transparency, walking the talk, critical thinking, and responsible, ongoing research. We depend on adaptability and creativity in dealing with dynamic and continually changing conditions, situations, and needs. Our unique, individual, and grassroots efforts are the opposite of Greenwashing. Grassroots efforts happen in our personal lives and at home first, and grow from there authentically and transparently. Conversely, Greenwashing is a façade that in someway hides corrupt strategies. The act of Greenwashing attempts to steal away the real grassroots movement for profit, and/or to dissolve it through commercialization. The human role of being on Earth is crucial; we must recognize and stand for equity, respect, independence, and the natural birthrights of healthy air, water, food, quality of life, diversity, and biodiversity. Humans have the responsibility and the ability to take necessary steps to help enforce and maintain ecological balance and health across the various landscapes of the planet. This is our integrity: to act as kind and wise stewards for other living beings with whom we share the planet, as well as for ourselves. We hold true that all living beings feel pain, want to live, survive, thrive, and enjoy their lives. We uphold equity and compassionate action as the foundation of daily practice, action, and decision-making. Ecosystems maintain balance and health with multitudes of integral and interrelated parts that make up the whole. Some humans/corporations have endangered and critically threatened that wisdom. We recognize that there is no real ownership over the water, rain, sun, and air. All living beings share land, air, and water together on one priceless planet. We recognize that creativity, invention, counter-cultural approaches, and grassroots efforts are highly valuable assets and approaches that serve a Green lifestyle well.
WE INVEST IN A GREEN WORLD. Healthy, thriving ecosystems, waterways, biodiversity, and healthy, thriving diverse communities of people and animals are a sign of successful Green values in action. We must invest in infrastructure, actions, sources that are more in harmony with Nature, equity, and health. This is what we envision and work towards. We proactively invest time, energy, space, skills, resources, and currency into activities, projects, products, businesses, and other groups that are also proactively dedicated to Green actions and standards. We aim and strive to make day-to-day habits, choices, and actions conscious and in harmony with health and Nature. These choices and actions have a positive focus and outcome—personally, collectively, and environmentally. Investing in the world we want to co-create, and taking concrete steps towards it each day in as many aspects of our lives as possible is the best and swiftest way forward to a better future. We invest in wellness, responsible action, and kindness.
WE DIVEST FROM WHAT ISN’T GREEN. We aim and strive to remove personal contributions and all forms of support from projects, products, businesses, institutions, and other organizations that fund destructive, toxic, dangerous, cruel, irresponsible, and otherwise harmful actions and practices, which are a threat to and endanger the environment, resources, communities, species, survival, and the ability for future generations to survive. Anyone who puts the short-term profit, violence, exploitation, cruelty, corruption, and abuse of power before health, basic needs, and respect for people and all life goes against the wisdom and balance of Nature, health, and Green living values. We choose to divest from these sources whenever and however possible.
GREEN LIVING SEEKS TO FOSTER AND CHOOSE MUTUAL, BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS. Biologically defined relationships on Earth have been identified in general as symbiotic, parasitic, or predatory. A Green life seeks to develop and maintain symbiotic relationships that are mutual and commensal. A symbiotic relationship is a physical or close and long-term interaction between species (we will add, also within species). Symbiotic mutualism is a relationship where both beings benefit. Symbiotic commensalism is a relationship where one being benefits and the other being is unaffected and unharmed. With a Green lifestyle, we choose to build relationships between humans and between species, and even towards ecosystems that have mutual benefit or at least cause no harm. A Green life refuses to engage in parasitic relationships and strives to refuse predatory relationships as much as possible, and within reason. In parasitic relationships, one being benefits while the other suffers. Since humans have choice and free will, there is no sound reason to ever inflict harm through this kind of relationship. It is unacceptable. In predatory relationships, one being kills and may or may not eat the being they have killed. A predator causes serious harm and/or death to another being for the sake of hunger or for no sound reason. Both predators and parasites are relationships observed as naturally occurring on Earth. Yet they are not, for people with choice and free will, Green, or kind choices. Yet, we must consider the fact that a being that eats a plant is also a type of predator to that living organism. Therefore, we need to realize that at this point on the planet—the reality of life and living are intrinsically tied to a certain level of predatory relationship for the sole reason of survival through satisfying hunger. However, levels of predatory relationships vary from natural hunger to cruel and unnecessary. Predatory behavior between humans, and as a leisure (“sport”) activity by humans is not desirable within a Green life, nor is it ethical.
GREEN LIVING EMBRACES THE FOLLOWING CORE STATEMENTS: a. The Earth’s ocean is our main source of life. There is no life without healthy water. There is no life without healthy air. We must ensure protection of natural resources. We must set unprecedented global standards and approaches that demonstrate the utmost in responsibility to and for all water, soil, and air—for the sake of all life and future life on Earth. We must ensure long-term protection, conservation, and preservation of health and balance on Earth for the survival of all living beings. b. Life is a gift. Treat all life with respect and ensure basic rights for all living beings based on equity and kindness. Life and all beings naturally seek wellness. Our human systems, which are geared for corrections and healing, must be structured to support this natural tendency with holistic, organic, restorative, kind, affordable, and preventative approaches. c. We can live gently and lightly on Mother Earth. We put into action zero-waste approaches, such as: fix, renew, restore, repurpose, reuse, recycle, upcycle, invent, pioneer, trade, share, gift, preserve, simplify, and conserve for health and future generations. d. We value creativity, adaptability, and diversity. Individual, unique, and contrasting approaches, small groups, and adaptability in times of ongoing change are all strengths of a grassroots movement. e. Fair Trade principles need to be applied to all work and wage situations—foreign, domestic, and local. f. Cruelty-free and kind principles need to be applied to all relationships. g. Commerce, ingredients, products, and practices need to be kind, healthy, ethical, renewable, and sustainable. h. Everyone’s time, energy, space, quality of life, and personal resources are equal in importance at a fundamental level.
The Great Flood of 2017: Plastic Pollution
By CS Sherin
July 22, 2017
There is a great flood that threatens all life on the planet. It is a flood that has been building since the 1950’s. It is the flood of plastic pollution, and it is profoundly out of control. This event is illustrated in two charts, as reported by Zoe Schlanger on July 19, 2017 for Quartz (qz.com): “The World’s Plastic Problem, In Two Charts.”
Plastic pollution in the ocean was first seen in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, but steady production of plastics in the US began during WWII.
The first chart in the article includes both plastic resin and fiber. The growth from the 50’s to now is staggering.
A study published by Science Advances on July 19, 2017 stated that: “As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated…If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.” (Source: Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck, Kara Lavender Law. “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made,” Science Advances, 19 JUL 2017 : Vol. 3, no. 7, E1700782,DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782. Advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782/tab-pdf.)
The second chart illustrates that in 2015 alone 407 million metric tons of plastics were produced, and 302 million metric tons of plastics were disposed of. The article goes on to explain that only 9% of that 302 million tons thrown out was recycled. And, 12% of the plastic thrown away was burned. Plastic breaks down, but it never totally goes away, nor does it fully break down. Plastic remains as it is, more or less, or breaks down into microscopic pieces that attract toxins, and is toxic.
Tatiana Schlossberg covered the same study on July 19, 2017 for The New York Times (online). That article, “The Immense, Eternal Footprint Humanity Leaves on Earth,” highlights that plastic packaging alone makes up a significant percentage of what is thrown away. The article also looks at the unintended legacy humanity will leave behind in plastics, as well as the importance of a study like this that measures this immense problem in detail.
There is a chapter in Recipe For A Green Life, called “The Problem With Plastics And What To Use Instead.” In that chapter (pages 98-125) the subsections cover the ins and outs of aiming to eliminate disposable plastics, plastic history, plastic pollution facts (including microplastic and microfiber pollution), the details of numbered plastics, biodegradable plastics, miscellaneous plastics and related chemicals, scientific discoveries that give glimmers of hope in dealing with the catastrophic amount of plastics in our environment near and far, plastic bans around the world, and navigating the snags and tricky terrain of becoming more free of plastics in daily life choices. It is a well-rounded resource, and integral piece that supports a holistic approach to sustainable living.
In addition to that resource for you within my book, Recipe For A Green Life, the information on this page gives you an important look at the epidemic we face, highlighted via news reports from this year, so far, as we are a little more than half way through 2017. Also included below, are some resources and ideas for your everyday life in relation to disposable plastics and related issues. The good news is, awareness of the plastic pollution crisis is cresting in the mainstream, even though it is not enough yet. Facts are facts. We must pay attention to this issue and act. So, let’s go forward with our eyes wide open and do everything we can to make amends to our collective health, the environment as a whole, and our future. Please join me and others who recognize the reality we face, and commit to doing all we can each day to change this negative tide of toxic plastics for the present and future generations of life.
A precursor to the following section, I want to include mention of this article: “Why The Ocean Is Key To Climate Protection” by Irene Quail, Deustche Welle, June 9, 2016. This is a foundational perspective. Also, it is important to remember that plastic pollution not only affects Earth’s ocean, but also our lakes, rivers, and other inland waterways. We must work and act to protect all water.
Some of the Big Stories on Plastic Pollution in the News, so far, In 2017
“The Great Lint Migration” by Melody Bomgardner, Chemical & Engineering News (Vol. 95 Iss. 2 pp. 16-17), January 9, 2017.
Yesterday I posted the 10 First Steps to help you begin a more holistic and sustainable lifestyle. Steps one (refusing consumerism), two (aiming for zero waste) and four (aim to eliminate single-use plastics) all, in some way, address single-use disposable plastics and related items. Step five, “Give up harmful products and habits” includes examples of alternatives to several approaches and products, including some plastics. Let’s look at the plastic alternatives from that step more closely:
Balloon Pollution: Find reusable and unique decor for celebrations–like ribbon dancers, paper kites, and scrap fabric streamers.
Glow Stick Pollution: Use the flashlight on your phone, or a recycled paper lantern with a reusable warm-colored LED light inside.
Polystyrene Foam Pollution: Choose reusable stainless steel or heat-resistant glass containers or sustainable-certified biodegradable recycled paper and cardboard containers instead. There is even mushroom based packaging available that is completely biodegradable.
Ten Steps To Living A Holistic, Sustainable Green Life Right Now July 19, 2017 by CS Sherin
These 10 steps were originally published in full in Recipe For A Green Life by CS Sherin, Wild Clover Press, 2017. The following is an edited and adapted version from that original source, from and by the author.
The following is a beginner’s first steps list for a holistic approach to sustainable Green living. It is an introduction to actions, thoughts, and practices that are meant to be adopted and integrated into one’s life at a natural pace and for the long haul. My book, Recipe For A Green Life, can walk you through the pitfalls and snares of such a great and rewarding undertaking, having turned my trials and process into your benefit with many answers, tips, resources, and problem-solving to make the transition with grace and verve. Living a holistic, sustainable Green lifestyle transforms your every day choices and actions, slowly, steadily, and surely, into empowerment, with positive, practical, and productive action. These sustainable practices lead to simplifying, well-being, increased quality of life, and meaning, which ripples outward positively impacting others.
You may be wondering what a holistic approach is for sustainable living. I can explain. I literally wrote a book about it.
Instead of creating and following one or two compartmentalized niches of action and lifestyle; we integrate the many parts and paths within our daily lives into one seamless aim that is both interconnected and conscious. The sustainable approach looks at the big picture and the grassroots personal picture and integrates the two. Each person’s process and version will be unique and appropriate to their life circumstances, resources, and abilities. The holistic approach to sustainable Green living is a perpetual aiming for ethical and kind choices, health and wellness for ourselves and all of life. It is an awareness of interconnected systems and wholeness, not a segment, exclusive branch, or commercialized niche. A holistic approach to sustainable living is the fullness of our lives at grassroots level, that tends and grows what we value most in life. It is a realistic, practical, money-saving, action, awareness and research-based approach that invests in all fronts that say yes to health, life, equity, kindness, sustainability, wellness, as well as our most foundational and crucial resources. All of this maintains commitment to integrity, transparency, and ethics.
Depending on where you live, and what personal and shared resources are available to you, will greatly determine how and how much you are able to do. Yet, every little mindful choice and action you make with sustainable, Green, kind living in mind is contribution, a paying it forward, to a better life now and in the future. It is a YES to health, life, love, and a more sustainable and renewable approach for all.
This approach is inclusive. It starts with each of us, right where we are, with what we have, and what we are capable of, and grows from there. It embraces unique, creative, ethical, and transparent grassroots initiative. It rejects greenwashing, commercialism, and other approaches which lead to neutralizing or the selling out in some way integrity, health, and the aim for holistic wellness and balance for all life. This approach amplifies our own personal power in ways that can inspire and help self, family, and others. We have more positive and long-lasting power via our daily choices and actions than you may imagine! Are you ready? Let’s get started right now!
Refuse to be aconsumer. Consumerism means endless waste and misuse of materials and resources. Convenience, waste, single-use items, cheap and fast come at a huge price to our health, ecosystems, resources, and quality of life. Buy less. Avoid buying items that you waste and don’t really need. Make learning about and practicing sustainable living a daily and ongoing goal. Refuse to trash, misuse, and consume life. Put a stop to endless reckless waste.
Aim for zero waste. Aim to be less and less wasteful. Begin by taking two weeks to observe. Observe what you use and throw away each day. Read labels. Notice packaging. Go through drawers, cupboards and cabinets and observe what is there. Notice: are there toxins, are there products and appliances that set you up to waste, and useless packaging? Continue observing what you throw away and what you put in recycling. After a week or two of this practice you will gain insight into many things in your life and around you each day that you take for granted or dismiss as unimportant, when that is far from true. As you move forward, plan how to slowly and surely change what isn’t sustainable. Avoid wasteful and unnecessary packaging. Avoid single-use disposable items. Use items and materials that are healthy in the long-term, and that you can safely reuse, refill, renew, repair, and up-cycle. Trade, donate, and simplify.
Commit to decreasing your daily meat and dairy intake. The amount of meat and dairy being consumed is grossly unsustainable, unethical, and unhealthy for people, animals, resources, and the environment. At the rate we are going now, the United Nations University has estimated that without changes, greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 80%! Multiple extensive and major scientific studies agree that a worldwide move to a plant-based diet could instead reduce emissions by 63% (vegetarian) to 70% (vegan). The American diet takes too much, wastes too much, and shows little to no concern for the dire crises we face that impact future health and survival. Also, the American diet puts unbearable strain on health and subsequently health care systems, as well as environment, animals, and resources. Even the most die-hard meat and dairy fan can recognize the benefit for health and the pocketbook in easing up on meat and dairy intake each day. Ready to get started, and make a life-affirming change? Explore fun, balanced, easy sustainable plant-based recipes. Hint: there are many recipes and guides that set you up for success for this adventure in Recipe For A Green Life.
Aim to eliminate single-use plastics. Aside from emergency and medical situations, we need to move away from single-use plastics ASAP. Disposable plastics are made with non-renewable resources–petroleum and natural gas, mixed with chemicals. Each year, 12 million barrels of oil are used in the US for SINGLE USE DISPOSABLE plastic bags alone (Source: SPREP, Fact Sheet # PF-004). This statistic doesn’t even include ALL single-use disposable plastics. The choice for relentless and widespread single-use plastics is obscenely reckless and a gross and tragic misuse of resources. Not only that, as we speak, plastics are an insidious form of pollution in our waterways and ocean. (Most plastics never make it into recycling programs. And a lot have limited ability to be recycled.) Break the mindless habit. Use stainless steel, heat-resistant glass, organic cotton, hemp, refillable, washable, and reusable containers and items instead.
Give up harmful products and habits. For starters, give up cigarettes with butts, plastic lighters, plastic drinking straws, chewing gum, lead ammunition, balloons, glow sticks, and polystyrene foam. These all have a huge footprint of harm on our health and environment in the form of pollution. There are toxin and waste free alternatives for all of these. What are some of the better alternatives? Quit smoking. Or, roll your organic tobacco in hemp papers. Instead of plastic lighter, use a hemp wick dispenser or a stainless steel lighter. Instead of plastic drinking straws, invest in stainless steel, titanium, silicone, paper, or bamboo drinking straws. Buy lead-free ammunition for your hunting gun. Instead of balloons find reusable and unique decor for celebrations like ribbon dancers, paper kites, and scrap fabric streamers. Instead of glow sticks, use the flashlight on your phone, or a paper lantern with a reusable warm-colored LED light inside. And finally, there are many alternatives to polystyrene foam, which is often used for packaging, hot beverages, and deli and other carryout containers. There are reusable stainless steel or heat-resistant glass containers or biodegradable recycled paper and cardboard containers that can be used instead.
Buy local, organic, humane, and Fair Trade products. Buying local cuts on cost, emissions, and supports local businesses and local farms. Buying organic eliminates pesticides and GMOs while maintaining a more ethical, natural, and healthy approach to food, resources, and health. Supporting local organic farms and gardens lessens food waste and helps communities to unite and thrive. While organic labeling can be tricky, it is worth learning about in order to make the best choices for you and your family in the long run. When you buy a product, textile, or food from another country, it is best to buy Fair Trade. This certification ensures basic standards and protections for health, human/animal rights, and habitats, as well as workers’ rights, fair pay, and the ability to form unions. Otherwise, too often we unwittingly fund human and animal rights abuses, habitat and species loss, sweatshops, slavery, and serious degradation of our biodiversity and natural resources. Invest in ethical and transparent sourcing, businesses, practices, and products. Divest from what is toxic, unsustainable, harmful and wasteful without conscience. Support communities, health, kindness, and equity.
Conserve, preserve, and protect resources and habitats from pollution, toxins, and other threats. Stop using pesticides. Grow an organic garden in containers or on land. Compost. Support and protect pollinators. Learn about permaculture. Conserve and protect water. Make a stand for the health and future health of water, air, soil, habitats, and communities. Network with others, invest in sustainability in your daily life through your awareness, choices, and actions.
Recycle everything possible. Recycle your hazardous waste responsibly at a local recycling center. All electronic devices, appliances, many kinds of batteries, and CFL light bulbs are some of the potentially dangerous and toxic items–they contain heavy toxic metals, are flammable, can explode and pose a negative threat to health. Make sure you keep hazardous waste out of landfills. Find and contact your local hazardous waste site to find out what they take and when.
Drive less. Transportation in the US is still largely dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels. Besides serious pollution from derailment, exhaust, and toxic batteries and tires, greenhouse gas emissions is another concern. Driving is a significant source of pollution. Even if you have a hybrid car, likely the battery production was brutal on resources and habitats, and so, degrades quality of life for communities. Bike, walk, carpool, and use public transit as much as possible. Get creative, network with others interested in healthier communities, and find solutions for your region, perhaps via improving transportation routes, modes, and choices.
Make your own toxin, waste, and cruelty free Green products like deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dish detergent, hand sanitizer, and for cleaning. Keep sustainable, ethical sources and demand in mind as you choose ingredients. Research, practice, and commit to ongoing learning. This way, the products you use daily become less costly, both literally and relation to health and the environment. Read Recipe For A Green Life: A Holistic Green Living Handbook And Recipe Book for recipes and tips. This way, we take back out power in our daily lives, and act upon our ethics and compassion in practical, easy and tangible ways that can make a real difference.
Copyright Notice: These 10 steps were originally published in full in Recipe For A Green Life by CS Sherin, Wild Clover Press, 2017. This article is an edited and adapted excerpt from that original source from and by the author. If you wish to share this article, please do, yet be sure to include the entire article, source, and this copyright notice. You are welcome to share the meme image of the 10 steps within this article separate and freely, as long as you keep it as it is. Thanks!
Sherin, CS. Recipe For A Green Life: A Holistic Green Living Handbook And Recipe Book, (Wisconsin: Wild Clover Press, 2017) 69-76.
Hertwich, Edgar., et al. “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials, A Report of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials to the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management,” United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) online, June 2010, http://www.unep.fr/scp/publications/details.asp?id=DTI/1262/PA.
Without hesitation, most businesses refer to their fellow humans as consumers–not patron, client, benefactor, or customer. From the time most of us are born we are subtly programmed and conditioned to see consumerism as positive–or at least necessary–a way of life, and a label that is to be taken for granted as fact and normal. Consumer has become THE word to refer to human beings who are customers to businesses of all kinds. Some businesses are even legally bound to use the term.
Let’s take a closer look and explore the origins of this label, as well as some of the more healthy and Greener alternatives.
Consumer was first used in an economic sense in 1745. It was meant as “one who uses up goods or articles” and is the opposite of producer. The earliest meaning of consumer was from the early 15th century and meant, “one who squanders or wastes.”
That is our subliminal charge: waste and squander. Wow. And this is a legally binding title for some. The consumer label is really a heavy, unhealthy, and dehumanizing title.
The word “consumerism” began in 1960 and meant: “encouraging consumption as an economic policy.”
Wow. There it is. It isn’t even just business perspective, it is a policy!
The word materialism emerged around 1851, a little over 100 years after consumer first emerged, and was defined as: “a way of life based entirely on consumer goods.”
Please note: The term “consumer goods” did not emerge until 1890. Materialism came before it by 39 years, yet Etymology Online uses that term to define materialism. I wonder why? In keeping with the chronology they could have defined materialism as “a way of life in which humans focus nearly entirely on the purchase of goods.”
What are the subliminal consequences of continually calling your fellow human beings consumer? What are the conscious consequences of accepting that label, without question? Something to consider and contemplate, to be sure.
What are the alternatives to the term consumer?
Now for some alternatives to the title consumer:
Customer emerged as a word from Latin in the 1540’s and meant “a person to deal with.”
The Latin form of customer goes back to these meanings: “habit, usage, way.”
Purchaser comes from the old French chacier which means “run after, hunt, chase.”
Buyer is from the old and middle English word “buy”which means to “accept as true”.
This word was first recorded in 1926. (What are we “buying into?”)
Client is from the latin clientem, cliens and means “follower, retainer.” In English a client originally emerged to mean a lawyer’s customer. By 1600 it was extended to mean any customer. (It is interesting to note: the definition of client is “follower.”
In our culture it immediately brings to mind social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook which give us the modern concept of followers. Clearly, there is a business motive within it.
Benefactor is someone who supports someone else financially, usually with the aim to support a creatively gifted person or project. The word can be translated as “honorable actions” or “to do good.” While this isn’t always the definition of a customer, it is a great aim. If we choose to buy from ethical sources and families we respect, then our purchases can become honorable actions and we could rightfully earn the title, benefactor.
Patroncomes from the medieval latin word patronus.
Harry Potter fans, how can this not be your favorite? Patronus means: “defender, protector, advocate.” It comes from pater (“father”) meaning: “one who advances the cause from their own wealth and power.” The commercial sense of patron, meaning a regular business customer, was first recorded around 1600. The term patronage emerged around 1804. Nowadays, the term Patron is used most often as someone who supports the Fine Arts, and is where the social media platform for artists, Patreon, derived its name.
So, looking at the terms we use and have used, which do you prefer or like the most? And why? I prefer patron, client, customer, and benefactor. I reject consumer for a number of reasons. Read on.
This is how I see it:
Patron is one of my favorite titles. It puts the power back into the hands of the human who discerns what and whether they need and want to purchase. Not only is the patron respected, they are seen as one who is advocating and supporting the business. This is a relationship of respect that acknowledges the patron’s investment, support, and energy.
Clientis a term for someone who is engaged with a business in a professional, legal, and perhaps service and health-care related way. It probably wouldn’t be an accurate term for all businesses, but it is a decent and respectful one for certain kinds. The origins of the word refers to the obligation by the client to pay ahead of time in order to secure a service. This is upfront and no-nonsense.
Customerhasbecome a neutral word for any kind of person paying for any kind of business. It is general and does not carry the undertones that consumer does. The origin of this word speaks of the business a person habitually purchases from, and also a business owner’s dealings with those who purchase at their business. It is mutual and neutral.
In fact, consumer is the only title that is a negative and destructive directive in its core sense.
From one perspective there is truth to the title of consumer, as our culture has been and is the “throw-away” mentality. Needless to say, the charge of consumer is the antithesis to a Green life, one which is rooted in conscious choice constantly striving to eliminate destructive, toxic, wasteful, and cruel choices, products, and practices.
The masses have sought what is disposable vs. reusable, cheap vs. value-based, fast vs. natural, quantity vs. quality. Not only that, producers and manufacturers make items of low quality that don’t last, require regular replacement, and waste on end without a thought or seeming care to overall consequences, long-term or short-term.
More and more though, we humans are becoming more conscious of the effects and consequences of this “consumer” mentality. Unfortunately, it seems that things have to get really dire and critical to get that attention and consciousness really going. Probably because the opiate that is being a “consumer” creates a dangerous level of apathy.
Under the model of business where people are Consumers with a capital C vs. patrons or customers (or humans for that matter) everything is based on, and fueled by reckless (even debt-based) spending. Disposable everything, fast and cheap gratification is the hook. Advertising of the last few generations, at least, has sought to program and condition humans from birth onward to believe that they are missing something, that they are not good enough, and that they need something. The advertising plays off the egos need for satisfaction and achievement that it will never be satisfied with. Advertisers know the psychology of the ego and know how to subliminally manipulate it for motives of greed, profit, power, and control.
It seems that many businesses and especially corporations, for their own interests, want this to continue indefinitely. These businesses and corporations (and other organizations) quite deliberately and thoughtfully have turned up the volume on the title “consumer” through the years till that is all I hear anymore. How about you? People even put it on their business cards. I find it offensive and demeaning.
This title, consumer, subconsciously and consciously encourages the perpetuation of the mindset to spend recklessly and to waste relentlessly.
Human beings are being told who they are. And they are not disagreeing! I did a google search about the word “consumer” and I could only find business pages talking about consumers. I could not find any articles talking about the use of this word as an ethical and moral issue, other than by graffiti artists such as in the image in this article. The fact is, the words we use matter. They shape our concept of who we are and what we do. Consumer is just another corporate way to objectify life and living beings. Just as factory farms refer to living beings as being grown and harvested. This is language seeking to remove the life from the living!
The impact of valuing human beings solely for consuming product/goods that give profit is a sick part of our world and society. It needs to be called out and addressed.
Another interesting thing to realize is that “Consumption” used to be the word for TB (tuberculosis). People died from Consumption. It was feared! When the word came up there was a palpable dread, kin to what we, of our era, experience with cancer.
When I hear a fellow living being addressed in a way that clearly objectified them, for the purpose of business and profit, a red flag goes up. Doesn’t it for you? Well, since you are a human in these times, you know how often the term is shot across the airwaves, news outlets, in articles, documents, and other numerous reports and so on. So, this red flag has gone up for me and has pretty much stayed up.
It is the cruel, disrespectful, objectifying, and lopsided power-over relationship between corporate and the people. They (human beings) produce, we (human beings) consume. Our consumption drives their profit. They tell us what to consume and to increase our consumption, regardless of our class, debt or health. They plan and strategize about what consumers want to consume more of and how they can get all of their products consumed in the cheapest way at the fastest rate without care to: the serious effects it has on health, habitat, water, air, soil, ocean, or anything else. The drive to consume (and perpetually waste and throw away) is not in harmony with health, the planet, ethics, ecosystems, our spirits, hearts, creativity, or the future of all living beings on the planet.
From this perspective, there is a need to become conscious of what we are allowing others to address us as, as well as what we are choosing, and what we need to do differently.
Call me a human being, a person, a friend, a client, a customer, benefactor, and for sure, a patron. Yes. A Consumer? No. Please, and no, thank you. If a friend started calling you a new name, you would immediately decide in your mind and heart if it offended you or not. And then, based on that feeling and knowing you would either accept it or reject it. This is widespread and encompasses all living beings, and requires a collective conscious intention for a positive transmutation and evolution of who we are, and what and whom we give power to and invest our time, money, and energy into.