Introduction to Think Green

Introduction to Think Green
By Paige Doughty

 

It’s 11:30 am. I’m running behind schedule and it snowed last night. This morning when I woke the weather was predicted to be 40 degrees, usually enough to melt the snow in arid Boulder, Colorado. I planned to ride my bike to teach my environmental class three miles away as usual. Now, as I look out the window at the snow encrusted street, I realize I’ve underestimated the melt time. It’s too late to take the bus—a ten minute walk on either end of a fifteen minute ride—and I promised myself, and my students, that I wouldn’t drive unless I had to. Does my bad planning qualify?


“Just get in the car or you’ll be late!” A voice in my head shouts.
 “No, don’t give in, the roads probably aren’t that bad once you get closer to downtown,” another chimes in.
 “But what if they’re not? Then I’ll really be late.”
 “Aaaaargh! Why is this so difficult!” we all scream at once.

 

For many this may seem like a simple decision, but for me it is soul wrenching.  I know that for every gallon of gas I burn, 19 pounds of carbon dioxide, a climate changing gas, are added to the atmosphere. I also know that driving pollutes the water I drink and the air I breathe. I made a promise to myself, my students, and the earth not to drive. And I’m probably going anyway. I feel terrible. A bumper sticker that I saw yesterday flashes through my mind: “Are you a part of the problem or a part of the solution?” Right now I’m not sure.
 

What is Think Green and why should I take part?


I first started to “Think Green” at a young age. I was a recycling crusader at my parents’ house, a water conservationist throughout middle school, and when I first learned about overpopulation in high school I was fond of telling people, “Oh, I don’t plan on having children, you know, for the planet.”

 

While in graduate school studying Environmental Education, I took my thinking to a whole new level. Re-committing myself to a truly sustainable lifestyle some of the items on my list:

 

-Live car free
-Learn the ecology of my town and share it with others
-Grow my own food
-Create a home which allows me to compost, use grey water, have a water free toilet.
-Buy nothing new, or nothing at all.
-And on the horizon…pick up sewing and knitting, and chicken raising. 

 

The answer to the question “What is Think Green?” essentially involves a complete lifestyle change.

 

Thinking green affected every aspect of my life from my daily habits and place of residence to my career choices and reproductive options. It meant creating a life I knew little about, and which looked drastically different from the one I had grown up living. But there was more. This time, unlike the green changes I’d made earlier in life, I wasn’t motivated out of guilt or fear, but rather by passion, joy, and the desire to create!

 

Through my field based graduate studies with an inspired community of learners I saw the many possible, simple solutions already in existence when trying to think green: permaculture, vermi-composting, non-toxic cleaning, local food, wilderness therapy, and much more.


The answers to living sustainably, it seemed, were at my fingertips. The problem, I learned, was trying to change everything at once, and by myself.


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Think Green is a practical, emotional, and thoughtful guide to healing ourselves and the earth. An often quoted phrase these days is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s Mahatma Ghandi and a simple enough concept until you begin to consider, as I did, exactly what needs to change… everything.

 

Changing the world, starting with ourselves, is not easy work. In fact it can make things more difficult (at first) and a lot of the time we don’t get to see the results. Not great “selling points” are they? Well, I’m here to tell you what is: a joy-filled healthier life, a deep sense of satisfaction, connections with new people, and the knowledge that when future generations ask you, “What did you do when the whole world was changing?” You will have a long list to let them know.

 

My approach to changing the world towards sustainability is like my teaching process, through hands, heart, and head. We’ve been paying attention to our heads for so long we’ve forgotten the rest of our bodies, and the planet on which we live; it’s time to change the world and not just with our minds but with our whole selves.  That’s why in Think Green you’ll find practical ways to make changes, inspiring stories from people   who are already making those changes, and intriguing information to push your thinking   ever further.

 

In Think Green I aim to provide practical solutions, emotional encouragement, and BIG thinking so that even when in a moment where we can’t make the most sustainable decisions, we don’t lose sight of where we’re headed. 

 

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On that sunny winter day I did indeed end up driving to teach my class. While I was out with the car I made sure to stop by the local store where I buy compostable cat litter in a 40 pound bag and several other heavy items that are difficult to carry on my bike. I felt better about my decision to drive since I had made it a worthwhile trip.  I also shared my decision making process with my class of high school students. Most of them agreed that I made a good choice so they wouldn’t miss class.

 

The additional point I made to them, and to myself, is that to live a truly sustainable life I cannot live at the pace of fossil fuels. This means not just changing my mode of transportation, but also how I think about transportation: the time it takes to get around town, the amount of things I do in a day, what I can accomplish in an hour.  I also had to remember, and this is a lesson I’ve learned over and over again, that I can’t do it all, all the time, at least not until my infrastructure catches up with my ideals.

 

Sometimes it takes a while for our actions to catch pace with our thoughts, for our words to articulate our vision, for our emotions to acclimatize to it all. It might take even longer for our friends and family to accept the new, “greener” more sustainable lives we want to bring into the world. Luckily, even though it might feel like it at times, we’re not alone in what we are trying to do. Think Green is a place to remind ourselves of this, a place where people (like me) can go to remember there are many of us out there “being the change.”

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Paige Doughty

I am an educator, writer, artist, & editor.  I have a Master of Science in environmental education and a B.A. in English Literature.  My passion is to blend my love of writing with my deep commitment to education and action towards a sustainable healthy world.

 

 

 

 


 

About the Author

 

 

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