Shades of Green: My many shades of green

In Columns, Opinion

Seeing as this is the last time I’ll write Shades of Green, it seems a little late in the game to discover that there are actually-designated “shades of green” that measure particular philosophies and levels of greenness.

The term was coined by Alex Steffan in 2003, just as this movement was on the rise, when he discovered a growing breed of Bright Greens – those who looked to technology to create a sustainable society.

Since then, the term Bright Green has been adopted by businesses, NGOs, blogs, student groups and even churches (please see hipsterchristianity.com), while pop culture itself has peppered the label throughout television and fashion magazines.

Of course, I’m wary of the ulterior motives behind the terms’ use. Bright Greens rely on technology, and technology is new – technology sells.

So while it may seem like some grand victory to witness a popularized desire for ecological innovations, we actually have a paradox within itself – it calls for technology for ecological purposes, but then it is used as a fashion statement for the sake of profits.

That’s where the other shades come in. There are also designated Light Greens, Dark Greens and, God forbid, the Grays.

Light Greens emphasize lifestyle/behavioral/consumer change on the individual level. The thinking is that you can get people to take small, pleasant steps – in other words, they are the kind of people that don’t use deodorant, wash their hair with biodegradable shampoo and will sneer at you if you don’t do the same. They ride their bikes without gears or brakes, not for fashion but for the Earth, and take extra steps to let you know how intelligent they are for knowing about obscure poisonous chemicals, much like Freon Woman, who refused to have her bagel microwaved.

Meanwhile, Dark Greens focus on a wider goal of environmentalism, emphasizing the need to pull back from consumerism and industrialization itself.

They advocate change on a community level: local solutions, short supply chains and direct connections to the land. They are the kind of people who grow their own basil plants and possibly some peppers on the balcony of their second-story apartments. You want to be friends with this breed of “greenies,” because when the oil runs out and anarchy prevails, they will be living off the fat of the land and they might share some of that basil with you.

Then there are the Grays. I shudder typing the name. They are the most despicable, vile creatures on Earth, because they refuse to pay any respect to it. The Grays deny there’s a need to do anything at all, whether as individuals or as a society. They range from the most blatantly dishonest and self-interested people, to those with expired worldviews. Somehow, I’m reminded of my previously-mentioned friend Ruth, who threatened to “beat” the environmentalism out of me because the Rapture was going to save us either way.

Unless you spend too much time caring about the Earth like me, for which you will be condemned to hell. She was definitely a Gray.

So, the question remains – what shade of green is this column? Considering all the shades it has gone through – what with bashing Brights, Lights and Darks alike, ranging from arrogant vegans to Freon Woman, then criticizing Grays like Ruth, I’d have to say that it’s a strange medley of all shades. It has eaten up many forms of research, strongly advocated and apathetically abhorred a variety of environmentalism.

Throw it all in a bowl, mix it up and you will likely get a vomit-colored green.

And so, I will conclude the semester and my stay at Cal State Fullerton with the conviction that my column was Puke Green. Hooray. Long live the Pukes.

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One commentOn Shades of Green: My many shades of green

  • I beileve this issue goes deeper than the shades of green model that you used to describe the Environmental Movement. If you want to understand the complexities I urge you to read Van Jones’ “Green Collar Economy,” as he further discusses the role of social classes in this emerging economy as well i encourage students to understand the concept of Eco-Modernization. This concept expresses the possibility for integrating the environmental movement into everyday life without foresaking consumerism.

    Brian Maddock

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