Green living or sustainable living or net-zero living is a chosen lifestyle that is primarily aimed at reducing one’s use of natural resources and at the same time reducing their overall environmental impact to preserve the natural resources and beauty of the Earth for future generations. This type of living has always existed in some form or the other, however in recent times, given the increasing effects of global warming and society’s awareness of the implications of their actions on the Earth, more and more people have become conscious of their impact and have looked at adopting this lifestyle. Simply put, people who “live green” try to lessen the impact of pollution and wastage, and try to live a more eco-friendly, conscious life. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. In the age of fake news, half-truths, misinformation and misconceptions, several myths have been spread around about green living and for some – these have become the narrative. So let’s take a look at some of these myths about green living and try to debunk them, and offer you a look behind the curtain at what it actually means to live sustainably.
1. Green Living is Expensive
This is perhaps the most common excuse you hear from people when you mention green living. Somehow, the words “green living” have automatically become synonymous with burning a big, fat hole in your wallet. Most of us tend to assume that to live green you need to replace all the appliances at home with energy-efficient ones, buy produce only from the organic store, purchase a bunch of zero waste accessories, etc. This idea of green living stems from what we see on social media, TV and magazines. The truth, however, is that sustainable living is all about minor, day-to-day changes. It’s about walking instead of taking out the car. It’s about watering your plants with a bucket instead of a pipe or sprinkler and taking bucket-baths instead of long showers. It’s about being mindful and turning off all appliances and lights when not in use. Green living is about doing the small and simple things, consistently.
2. Green Living is Inconvenient
Most people assume that sustainable living is inconvenient and difficult in that it would require a change in habit and routine. However, the truth is that green living does not require you to change your way of doing things, but rather to be conscious and fully present while doing them. Take for instance some of our most mundane chores, like washing our clothes, buying groceries, or even brushing our teeth. We have done these things so many times in our lives in a particular way that it’s almost become muscle-memory and we end up carrying out these chores unconsciously. We become unaware of the detergent we’re using, unaware of the fruits and vegetables we’re purchasing and unaware of the amount of water we’re consuming. We are slaves to our habits and that could be our undoing. Alternatively, if we were simply mindful and fully in the present moment while going about our day-to-day activities, our decisions and choices would be a lot more in tune with conservation.
3. Changing My Lifestyle Won’t Help
Another common myth, “how will changing my lifestyle help if all the big industries don’t change their ways?” While this question is valid and makes sense, fortunately for us the answer doesn’t need to be an either-or. We can continue doing our part, no matter how small and minuscule it may seem in the grand scheme of things, and at the same time hope for things to change at the higher levels. The reality is that each one of us can only control our own actions. While we can scream and shout and protest against the industrial waste and environmental policies to bring about change, ultimately those decisions aren’t in our hands. Our focus should primarily be on what we can do and what we can control, and that is our own actions. Besides, change begins with one person and ultimately spreads to others and so on. And if everybody made a change in their own, individual lives, the collective result would change the world for the better.
4. Going Vegetarian is Good for the Environment
While it is true that animal products tend to have a much higher carbon footprint than food produced from plants, going vegan/vegetarian can also have negative consequences on the environment if not done correctly. Simply going vegetarian doesn’t help unless you are aware of the food you’re eating, where it came from, how it was grown etc. Similarly, eating foods that are out of season tends to cause ecological damage as those foods would have to be transported from places where they are in season, or would need to be produced artificially through the use of some chemical means which indirectly leads to a higher carbon footprint. Likewise, the dairy industry is one of the most carbon intensive industries in the world and the production of hard cheese and other dairy products can sometimes have a higher carbon footprint than that of a kilo of chicken. The key to managing diet for the green purpose is to enjoy a balanced diet, eat foods that are in season and most importantly eat for our need, not for our greed.
5. Green Living is all about Depravity
Based on everything you’ve read so far you may be inclined to think that green living is all about depriving yourself of things that you enjoy and giving up things that you love. On the contrary, living green is all about doing the things you love but in a more conscious, eco-friendly way or using eco-friendly versions of the things you love! All that really needs to change is our attitude and intent. Once we get that right, everything else will naturally follow. There is absolutely no need to clear out your house and your wardrobe and replace everything with “sustainable” alternatives. The most sustainable products are the ones that you already have. So don’t worry about missing out on the things that make you happy, simply aim to be more conscious about them. And once you do, you’ll soon find that it makes you happier.
These are just a few of the most common green myths that are generally mentioned whenever a conversation about green living is taken up. But now, you know better. So the next time you hear someone bring these points up, you know what to say. And when you do, the planet gains one more saviour.