Fomenting the Necessary Revolution: 3 Disciplines for Living a Green Life
If we want to be fit, we need to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest. These disciplines help us get the most out of life. It’s the same for living a “green” life. Whether you are a Fortune 500 executive, a stay at home parent, a student or your own unique creation, there are 3 simple disciplines- habits of action- that can help you be green in everything you do. The three are:
1. Seeing the Whole Picture
2. Playing Well with Others
3. Creating the Future You Want
In our book, The Necessary Revolution, we called them Seeing Systems, Collaborating Across Boundaries, and Creating Desired Futures. But we had a business audience and Doubleday to please. With you I can talk plain English.
An old Chinese proverb says: “if you don’t change direction, grasshopper, you’ll end up where you are headed”! Ok, I really don’t know where that saying came from. But the future we’re living today was created by the dreams choices and actions we took yesterday. In order to create the future we want, we need to think in new ways, make choices that support that future, and act on them. That’s what Greenopolis is all about- getting the skills and information to make better choices.
Look at the people you think of as heroes in the conservation, waste to resources, green movement. Chances are they see issues arising earlier than a lot of us, begin to understand the choices we can make, think creatively about the actions they can take, and then make it happen in a systemic way. From Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir to Al Gore and Wangari Maathai, you’ll see this pattern. The best news is, all of us can be like that.
Seeing the Whole Picture is simply learning to look down the road apiece before we take action. Looking at the relationships between our actions and others, at the consequences, wanted and unwanted, our actions can produce, understanding the larger system. For example, it’s easy to throw something in the trash. We have the systems in place for throwing stuff “away” from our kitchen to the big trucks to the landfill. Recycling that same piece of waste takes a little more time, setting up new systems to take it and reprocess it and new habits to form. Reusing that piece of waste so it finds new life immediately is even tougher and a bigger habit to build. But thinking beyond the trash bin and seeing that one path leads to the landfill or contamination of air, water and soils, and the other saves energy, materials and money, helps us to build a new habit.
Once we see that we’re part of a larger system, the next step is to Play Well with Others. Working with our neighbors to foster more recycling, or companies working with advocacy groups, like Chiquita and The Rainforest Alliance, instead of fighting each other, takes more effort, but pays bigger rewards. We get to know our community, and be part of a larger movement.
And last, Creating the Future We Want- is first a matter of dreaming big- imagining a blank check from God or (your favorite divinity here) – and working backward to plan the steps to take us from here to there. It may start with recycling a single can or reusing plastic bags, and pretty soon you’re putting solar panels on your roof, with the money you saved from never throwing anything away. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to come from a place of aspiration than one of desperation.
So take a look around in your home, school, work, life. What do you want to see and live? What’s the larger s organization, neighborhood, community of which you are part- and who can be your natural and unexpected allies in the journey? Then start now. What were you going to do with your life anyway? Write a blog?