Let’s Not Fight: The Conflicting Side of Being Green

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If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself looking for little ways to make your day a lot greener. It’s no secret that the environment isn’t in the best of shape, and that’s why it’s imperative that we all lead more sustainable lives. I keep this in mind every day, but have you ever noticed that others just don’t share my enthusiasm?

Depending on where you live, being green can make you a bit of an outcast, and convincing others to join you can be an uphill battle. I live in a community that is quite open to sustainable living, but still, I’ve encountered conflict. Whether it’s a fight about turning off the air conditioner, or a strange look I get when I suggest we walk across a plaza instead of drive, I’ve experienced my share of green ridicule. Over the years, I’ve tried to gauge just how green my target audience is willing to go. For example, I cooked a more sustainable dinner for my family by preparing an organic vegetarian pasta dish. The lack of meat proved to be quite troublesome, and they quickly added chicken to the dish… completely defeating the purpose. Most recently, my friend and I baked vegan black bean brownies for a dinner party. I recall debating with her as to whether or not we should tell our guests what the key ingredient was. We decided to keep quiet, and the brownies were a huge success.

So what have I learned from all of this? Well, some people welcome a green lifestyle full force, while others are somewhat resistant. My advice is to gauge your audience and their lifestyle before making a suggestion to them. It’s way easier for someone in the city to give up their car than it is for someone out in the suburbs or country. In the case of my family, I make sure to include meat at dinner, but scale back on the amount (just don’t tell them). When it comes to the controversial issue of the air conditioner, I’ve realized that debating the topic is an endless battle. Fortunately, there are ways around it. Try setting the thermostat at a higher temperature until about an hour before you’re expecting guests who crave the cold air (there are also programmable thermostats that can do this for you). These are just a few strategies that I’ve learned over the years, but there are endless options that can be adopted.

Regardless of the scenario, the takeaway is the same: not every green lifestyle change will work for every person. Everyone should however be able to find at least one, and if we each made a small change, we could collectively make a big difference. Whether it’s biking to the store, or being vegan one day a week, it’s important to encourage people to make changes that are feasible and desirable for their lifestyles. Ultimately, you don’t want to make people green in the face from your lecturing, but rather green in the mind from your motivating.

  • Sandra Dedesko

    Sandra Dedesko is a recent graduate of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. She has a high interest in energy efficient buildings and sustainable urban development. She's currently working towards a Masters degree and industry career in this area.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Not Fight: The Conflicting Side of Being Green”

  1. Hi Sandra. I so agree. I have to be tolerant of myself, never mind anyone else. Yes I want to be greener but (for example) oooh that dingy plastic shower curtain, will it ever look good enough when I could just buy a new one. Yet these tiny decisions, multiplied over and over, do have an impact. I decided to do my best, however limited that might be. Green fundamentalism only scares me off.

    • Well said! You really don’t have to overhaul your life to still make a contribution. Thanks for doing your part!!


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