Muppet and philosopher Kermit the Frog sang the truth. It’s not easy being green. For some it is a political belief and it’s fair to say that there are more political Greens now than ever before but, for the majority of us, what is being Green?
Is being Green about having low energy light bulbs, sorting our rubbish into the many, various boxes for collection, turning off our electrical equipment rather than leaving it on standby and trying not to waste our valuable resources that we all know are finite? There has to be more to it than that. Maybe it’s about picking up litter and looking after our own environment? I’ve done that recently where I live and I’ve seen the results of other litter picks and, frankly, the amount of rubbish we leave behind us is shocking.
The big problem with ‘going Green’ is that we have been told we must do it, we sort of get it but we are not entirely convinced that what we are doing will make any real difference to us or anyone else. It all comes down to cost for most of us in both money and time. If being Green means we save money, time and the planet then that’s all good then. If going Green protects the environment then that’s nice, so long as it doesn’t cost me or inconvenience me. Selfish? No. Realistic? Yes. Take away the politics and going Green is, in many ways, a better way to live so long as we all do it.
I do recycle, turn off lights when I’m not using them, I try not to use packaging or bags if I can avoid it, which is hard when they even shrink-wrap individual bananas in one supermarket, and I want the environment to be better for my children than it was for me in the past. The trouble is I’m just not convinced that what I am doing is making a jot of difference. I worry that being Green is more about other’s agendas than it is about my actions. How can covering our green fields with solar panels possibly be Green?
Bristol is the European Green Capital for 2015. This is something for Bristol and the country to be proud of and for us to get behind, but what does this actually mean beyond a great headline? The website says ‘A year celebrating Bristol’s leadership in creating healthier, happier cities’. No clues on the website telling me how they will do this.
What does Green Capital really mean? Honestly I don’t really know. I have asked many, many times for a clear definition and what it will mean to individuals. There are, of course, events, conferences, talks plus a giant whale that will be made out of recycled materials and some old boats in a wood that isn’t even in Bristol. Will any of this make us more Green?
Maybe the answer to Bristol 2015 European Green Capital is to get us talking about being Green and understanding why. If this is the case then I look forward to talking, hearing and learning. I fear though that it will be more about a lot of worthy nodding and agreeing that ‘something must be done’, talking about ‘community involvment’, harnessing ‘cultral diversity’, ‘learning lessons’ and having a ‘meaniful dialogue’.
My biggest fear is that by the end of the year we will still be sorting our own rubbish, maybe picking litter up from our own streets but, most of all, being none the wiser or Greener and feeling like a bunch of muppets.