Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflecting on my 2007 green adventure

The end of the year is always a good time to ruminate on one's adventure of the year past. Here's a recap of a year of learning what it means to truly go green -- the ups and downs of this journey, and what it is worth in the end.

I started this blog earlier this year to share my adventure in living more sustainably in the hopes that it may influence fellow readers. It is better than annoying friends and families with little green lectures, right? :-) Writing has always been fun for me, but little did I realize how powerful blogging could be. By putting my opinions out there, it created conversations that I didn't even know exist, with people I didn't even know were green at heart. Green lesson learned: the conversation I start creates the world I live in. If I care about something, share it and talk about it. Don't worry about what others think.

When I started the journey, I was green at being green. I was too easily excited by products that tout a healthier lifestyle, safer ingredients, or being better for the air, water, and land. I was extremely excited by innovative market solutions where profits are possible while serving society's needs -- e.g. micro lending, cap-and-trade. But when I got into figuring specific actions I could personally take, I was assaulted by too much information. Many businesses are touting green products or green services, but so many are simply doing green-washing. To be a conscientious consumer means being able to tell the real deal from the fluff. But where do I start? Green lesson learned: it is hard to truly determine where you can have the biggest impact overall without having to spend an inordinate amount of time researching. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there about going green.

So I didn't try to learn it all. I picked the areas most pertinent to my life. Starting with my own "circle of influence", which areas of my lifestyle create the biggest negative impacts on the environment? I am a number-type person, and finding the definitive green guide with supporting ecodata matched to my lifestyle would be a dream solution for me. But it doesn't exist. So I made some gut decisions and decided on a few topics for exploration: (a) I really dislike being tied to a car in my daily life -- how can I reduce this cognitive dissonance, (b) wouldn't it be nice to have lower utility bills, (c) I am an investor - so why not look first at my own portfolio, and (d) since I cringe every time something goes to the landfill, that must be another area of passion.
Green lesson learned: focusing on a few core areas relevant to my life makes the adventure mean more and stick better.

I've had a blast this year from learning and experiencing new things. It is an intoxicating feeling -- to become more aware of the world around me (also a very Buddhist thing). Well, I like learning, and green is a whole new area for me -- so that suits me just fine! I found an unexpected plus too, as the journey progressed. As an adult, seldom will things inspire awe or wonderment -- we have seen it all -- been there, done that. But once I dived into my eco-adventure, I found there are so much I don't know about the world. In fact, I found a parallel universe of alternative lifestyle that has existed for decades -- only that I had been somewhat dismissive of it in the past because I didn't know better. Best of all, I felt better both psychologically and materially from polluting less, living healthier, and learning once more. Green lesson learned: a green adventure has unexpected rewards that add to the happiness index.

Happy 2008!

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