Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Shades of Green

Lots of the words in yesterday's list are used for people and lifestyles rather than products. Light, dark and bright green all fall into this category and describe three green philosophy types. I've read these terms often but didn't really know what they meant. A great article which explains all is this one by Alex Steffen (who coined the term Bright Green). Here's a quick guide:

Light Green environmentalism is the belief that changes on an individual level are the main solution to environmental problems. Lots of people making lots of little changes will snowball and all together will begin to make a big difference. It also relies on people demanding change as consumers which will push the markets towards more environmentally friendly products. This form of environmentalism has helped spread the environmental idea and made it a fashionable lifestyle choice, but it also generates a lot of "green fatigue" as you often feel that your little changes don't have an impact in the grand scheme.

Dark Green environmentalism focuses on community action. More campaigning, activism and a move away from our current consumer lifestyle, back to a more local, community one. The idea is that small communities producing locally will have short supply chains and allow individuals to take control of their impact on the environment. This involves making bigger changes and commitments, not just remembering to recycle each week. The Dark Green philosophy has been taken up in particular by transition towns where communities prepare for the dual challenges of peak oil and climate change by reducing their fossil fuel reliance. This focus on community action works well and does a lot of good. However, it's often associated with the doom and gloom side of environmentalism, with messages of imminent disaster, which often puts people off doing anything green at all.

Bright Green is the newest of these terms. It's philosophy is a belief that sustainable innovation and design are key to a sustainable society. To fix environmental problems we need an economically strong green industry. We need industry to redesign systems and rethink infrastructure to make integral changes to how society works. This is how the biggest changes happen and while you can agree with this philosophy, unless you're an inventor or in charge of major infrastructures it doesn't leave much room for individual action.

 In reality most environmental issues require a mix of the three types of green. Recycling is a good example. You need individuals to recycle but you also need the community to have facilities to recycle, like collections or bins. On top of this you also need manufacturers to create the procedures for recycling and for creating new products.
Mos environmentalists would describe themselves as some shade between these greens and I think that's better than just being one. We need to use all the ways of changing our lifestyles and society for a greener future, not just stick to one because we like the label. At the moment I'm probably more light green than anything else but I'm really interested in getting involved in more dark green projects in my community and I think more environmental inventions and changes to industry would be great.

What colour green are you? What do you think about all this labeling?

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