Friday, December 26, 2008

“Being Green” is a Journey

What exactly does it mean to be “green” anyway? Being green is making conscious decisions about your environment, your health and your local economy.

Environmental consciousness is having concern for the earth, including what we dump into the air, the water and dirt surrounding us. One way to measure your level of environmentally green decisions is to know the size of your “Carbon Foot Print” or the measure of the amount of carbon based fuels it takes to maintain our lifestyle.

Health consciousness in the context of “being green” is the concern for what we put into our body and how this effects you and your family. One way to make green health-conscious decisions is to look at how your food is grown – is it organic or is it grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Economic consciousness is about where you spend your money and the question “is this purchase helping me in the short term because it is inexpensive or am I keeping my money in my own community for longer term benefit?”

In order to link all three of these green considerations together, consider the phrase, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” This is the concept that everything we do individually can have an impact globally. This consciousness begins with the question “how is what I am doing effecting myself, my community, or my world?”

“Being Green” is not a switch that you flip, but a journey you take one step at a time. This journey begins with asking the above questions. Ghandi said “you must be the change you want to see in the world.” The action, in this case, is to “be green.”

It’s easy to “be green!” Start with what you are interested in. If it is a healthy home, buy earth-friendly cleaners or make your own. Use your old cleaners less frequently until they are gone then go on-line to find out how to make your own. If you are interested in saving energy, change out your light bulbs. If it is too daunting to wade through all of the choices, do some research, or hire a local green conscious contractor. If you are interested in health, plant a garden, go to the local farmers market, or join a CSA.

Consider doing all three because you can knock out several things on the list with one step. For example, getting food that is locally grown, reduces your “carbon footprint” because the amount of fossil fuel that it takes to grow the food and then transport the food is greatly reduced. Second, it is healthier. We can find out how “organic” that tomato is because the farmer who grew it is most likely standing there selling it to you. There is a more direct connection to your food. Third, you are keeping your money in the community. It is more likely that that farmer could come into your place of business and spend his money with you sometime in the future.

One common misconception is that being green is expensive; How can I “be green,” I’m poor? Most everything we can do to be green is not expensive or we can make adjustment and reprioritize what is important. In the case of food for instance, buy less food but better quality. Look for the “made in” label to make sure you are buying products made in this country. Buy your electricity through a cooperative that produces “Green Power.” All of the little things add up on our journey to “be green.” Don’t be overwhelmed, take the first step.

Scott Castor is an “Eco-preneur” living in Cleveland Heights. He is the Greener Home Handyman and the owner of a new franchise called Greener Home Services, LLC. Scott just planted 5 fruit trees in his yard, has a vegetable garden and heats his home and hot water with wood and solar. He can be reached at or