How green is your valley?

By: By Sheelagh Matthews

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 07, 2012 12:53 pm

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To be, or not to be green: that is the question. It’s a good question to ask too, especially in March, the month of spring and St. Patrick’s feast day.

So, what’s with our obsession with green anyway? We use this colour as a verb, an adjective and a noun in our language. We green our homes and communities; we wear green clothing, especially on St. Pat’s; and we’re sometimes known to turn green around the gills after one too many the night before, particularly when that night falls on March 17.

If there’s one sure way of figuring out what’s important to a culture, all you have to do is take a look at how many words or word uses people have for something in their language. Even the most preliminary review will prove “green” is close to the top of our cultural popularity list. This should come as no surprise. Green, after all, is one of the two most predominant colours on our planet, and is second only to the blue of our skies, oceans, rivers, and lakes. Considering we are surrounded by so much green it’s no wonder we talk about this colour in so many ways. We long for the green, green grass of home when tired and homesick. Sometimes we turn green with envy — perhaps in one of the many shades of green, from the bright Kelly and emerald greens to a deep, dark hunter green. Let’s not forgot those amazing gardeners among us who are known for their green thumbs.

Green these days is often used in reference to the environment, or, more specifically, to being kind and respectful towards the environment. Ecology, sustainability and conservation are all associated with green. Why not? Green, after all, is the overwhelming land-based colour of nature. It is the colour we associate with spring, new growth and the promise of abundance. If we are green in our actions today, we’ll better our chances for abundance tomorrow.

Speaking of abundance, green is also the colour of money. US dollar bills are still referred to as greenbacks, a reference to the colour used for our neighbour’s paper currency.

But, to live a green life is to do more than be respectful of the environment or to wallow in wealth. It also refers to being an active participant in our communities. To be green is to be a good member of society, not just an environmentally friendly soul.

Shopping locally, for example, is a green thing to do. Why? Because it keeps greenbacks in your community while creating employment. Because it lowers your ecological footprint in all kinds of ways. Because it shows you made a conscious choice to support your own community’s wellbeing.

Think about it for a few seconds. Buying local means we didn’t drive half an hour down the road to make our purchase, not only saving on fuel and vehicle wear and tear, but also saving on time that could be spent relaxing or doing something fun or useful with family, friends and neighbours. With more time to spend building relationships, maybe, just maybe, we’ll have fewer misunderstandings in our lives. Fewer misunderstandings could well lead to more opportunities for cooperation and deeper understanding, not to mention peace and quiet. Hey, and maybe we’d even start feeling loved and safe, too. Isn’t feeling connected, loved and safe all that we really want anyways?

Yup, to live a green lifestyle is way more than cutting back on energy consumption or installing solar panels. To be green is a whole way of being; it is to care about your family and your community’s wellbeing, both now and in the future. To be green is to vote during elections. To be green is to lend a hand when needed, and to ask for help, too. To be green is to share what you have, to delight in life’s little miracles, to offer a cheery hello to strangers while walking down the street.

As Kermit the Frog so famously said, “It’s not easy being green.” But, it’s worth the effort if you were to ask me. Celebrating and living the colour green every day of the year, not just on St. Pat’s or Earth Day — now that’s in our best interest.

For more in your best interest, follow Sheelagh on Twitter @sheesays.


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