The Importance of Connecting with Like-Minded Individuals

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As y’all know, I was selected as an Eco Rep Leader at my university.  Yesterday was our official training for the year.  We had our training at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.

I had only been there once and it was for their well-known Hummingbird Festival.

The center is one of Mississippi’s finest yet lesser known treasures.  With a love of nature and hope for the future, two sisters,  entrusted their home and property to The National Audubon Society. Since then, the Audubon Society has worked on restoring and conserving the 3,000 acres of hardwood forests, wetlands and native grasslands managed by Strawberry Plains.

Basically, we were at an excellent location to discuss sustainability and environmentalism!

 

What is…

Eco-reps-logo-green-largerThe first task we had was ensuring that we have some common ground when it comes to defining the important words.

 

Sustainability?

The Office of Sustainability on campus has their own definition of sustainability.  They define it as

Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary, problem-solving approach to creating a social system that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations or the needs of the ecological systems in which humans exist.

But we all got to pitch in!  We knew we wanted to not waste unnecessarily and do the best we could, but it was difficult to create a concrete definition.

We realized we all had different backgrounds just as the fellow students we will be spreading our ideas to.

Some of us felt we should push renewable energy or recycling or vegetarianism or composting or all of the above!  Everyone was so passionate and it felt so good, but we realized the way to reach people is to find which way of moving towards sustainability is the most attainable for them.

a Change Agent?

I still have not mastered a good definition of this term, but I did learn some attributes and skills required for one to be a change agent.

What popped out to me during this portion of the discussion, was the stark difference between introverts and extroverts.  Some people wanted us to all be loud and proud, whereas some believed we should be calm and collected instead of overwhelming.  Of course, both have their place.

Experienced Change Agents know when to speak up and when to listen up.  They also can stay motivated even if a task feels impossible.

Change Agents must be understanding; not everyone can (or should) change their lives over night.  We need to be able to meet people where they are and not make them feel better for the speed of their change.  Small positive actions are not negative; they are still positive!

the Big Deal?

The experience of meeting with my fellow Eco Rep Leaders for this school year, was eye opening.  A lot of people have tried to silence me when it comes to standing up for environmentalism.  I understand now more than ever that allies are a blessing and you don’t have to fight alone.


How do you plan on connecting with like-minded people either in your area or online?  If you don’t know where to start, I can be your first ally in your environmentalism journey!

Greenwashing and How to Avoid It

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is used to mislead consumers into believing what they are paying for is safe for consumption and even protective towards the environment.  Effectively, they are painting over something that is not environmentally-friendly with environmentally conscious (green) paint.

Many times, the product is actually doing considerably more harm than good.  The companies who invest significant amounts of money in marketing and green paint tend to be the very same companies that are polluting the water we drink and the air we breathe.

One example I saw a few weeks ago is this Chevron commercial from 1980.  Most of us do not think of Chevron when we are thinking about eco-friendly, but after this commercial, people survived did respond saying Chevron was eco-friendly.

These days, greenwashing is becoming fairly subtle.  Many times commercials of not so natural products (such as sodas and skin care products with way more chemicals than you would ever want near you) will be displayed with green grassy fields.  This implies the product is natural to the environment and therefore healthy for you and the Earth.

Another example is the sign in many hotel bathrooms where they request you hang your towels and reuse them to help them save the environment.  This is likely just a tactic to save money on their water bill.

Organic Food Takes the Cake

We have all heard that organic crops are healthier, tastier, and better for the planet. Unfortunately, studies show that these claims are overwhelmingly blown out of proportion if not completely false.

For example, organic farms take up significantly more land than conventional ones, which means it might even be worse than conventional farming.

This does not mean organic food is terrible for the environment, but it is important to look at both sides as well as realize that other choices could make an even greater impact.  Buying local, decreasing meat consumption, and not wasting food might be better ways to go.

Do Your Research

 

People are becoming more conscious of their choices and their effects on the world.  It is not enough to believe what the advertisements and the media tell us.

Many times it can be as easy as scanning the packaging of products.  There is often this handy dandy Ecolabel on the product.  They are different by region and product, but a quick search will tell you if the label is reliable.


Let me know if you think this is a problem or am I blowing it out of proportion?  What other examples of greenwashing have you seen?