To me, “green living” ideally springs out of a reverence for the earth and respect for all its inhabitants. These are not prevailing principles in this modern age and indeed, the growing emphasis on green behaviors is at present more of a defensive position rather than an affirmative philosophy. Right now, it’s about “giving up things” in order to slow or halt the destruction of our environment. We struggle with what we perceive as reductions in our lifestyles and with budget issues (since many green products are more expensive than non-green counterparts). We’re operating from a sense of loss, but at least there is now widespread recognition that we can’t go on indefinitely damaging our environment and absorbing toxins from every direction.
For us to move beyond this negative perspective we need to become aware of and begin to address the underlying causes that have driven us to the edge of an environmental cliff. These include:
Industrialization, which has done so much good and so much harm, and which needs to be harnessed and applied wisely.
Unchecked corporatism: the philosophy that putting profits before every other consideration results in the greatest good, which needs to be evaluated in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Consumerism: the idea that we exist primarily to work and buy and work to buy; that our quality of life is purely a matter of how much stuff we have, and how expensive it is.
Globalization: which, in this context, means sacrificing local economies and self-sufficiency to corporate-based agriculture and manufacturing, as well as demanding there always be people somewhere in the world who are poor enough to be willing to work for subsistence wages.
Industrialization, among other things, has resulted in an ever-widening disconnect between modern people and the earth they live on. While 5-year olds can operate computers, they (like their parents) have no idea what activities are taking place in the ground beneath them or the air around them, and how those activities sustain life. The average American has almost zero knowledge about where their food comes from, how it was produced, how pure or impure it is and what impact its purity of lack thereof has on their health and well-being.
The books below resonated with me at different points in time.