Earlier this week, we were all frightened over the concept that a Google search took as much energy as making a cup of tea. A simple Google search, something people do millions of times a day, had a pretty significant impact. After a few days of back-and-forth the only thing we learned was (a) the report was probably wrong and (b) the researcher got a lot of nice press for his new company. A company designed to help websites become greener, like to BeGreenNow.com, a company that lets you calculate your carbon footprint and offers to offset the difference for you. It’s what we all hoped for, the market leading the way into the green revolution.
Originally, when we talked about market forces leading the green revolution we meant it in a way that made sense. The production of more fuel-efficient cars. The development of alternative energy. Better windows, light bulbs and computers. Not the false feeling of accomplishment obtained when buying trees to be planted in Latin America to offset your carbon footprint. Give us credit – in our efforts to McDonaldize everything possible, we found a way to bring it to the Green revolution. It’s easy. Tell us your habits and we’ll tell you the damage. Now all I need is your credit card number. Act now, or there will be nothing left to save. Of course, in the transaction you need to use your computer, send and pull information from their server, and pull and confirm information from your credit card’s server. Don’t worry about the carbon footprint. The trees will make up for it.
It’s entirely possible that to make the Green movement work, we actually need to work on it. Turn off the lights. Turn off the computer. Turn off the TV. Buy better cars. Buy better lights. Make smarter choices. There are no quick fixes. Being green takes a lot of effort, encouragement and follow-up. When so much of our daily lives factors into our “carbon footprint” it’s a daunting task to control it. Yet, there is no need to feel guilty every time you run your credit card or buy a new pair of jeans. Your carbon footprint will never completely diminish, but the goal is to make it smaller. Being green isn’t about finding a way to absolve us of our environmental sins. We need to embrace smart green-ism. Using public transportation (or take the opportunity to join a friend and use the carpool lane – for those of you living in state’s that are weird like that), figuring out which car gets better gas mileage or just driving smarter. Focusing on alternative energies that will work, not chasing pipe dreams, and if anyone wants to write their Congressman, actually having a national energy policy would be nice.
Like any social movement worth a damn – woman’s suffrage, civil rights, feminism and gay marriage – this requires a different way of living. While some may deem it a radical shift, the truth is simple changes in your daily life will help. Changes in our attitudes will make the significant difference. While the market maybe hocking green products for less altruistic reasons, we need to encourage the behavior, but only the smart ones.