Bright, Light, or Dark Green?

March 20, 2009

Labels can be useful. Obviously they can also become ridiculous and pigeon-hole us into camps of undeviating ideology. But if the usefulness is doubted, just think: which evokes the stronger reaction?

  1. John, Paul, George, and Ringo, or
  2. The Beatles

Option 1 is pretty darn recognizable, but doesn't option 2 just evoke more about history, sounds, artistry, etc? Hence the power of a label.

Over at WorldChanging, which I haven't been reading much for the last several months, editor Alex Steffen looks at labels in Bright Green, Light Green, Dark Green, Gray: The New Environmental Spectrum. Apparently he coined the term "bright green", and now he wants to make sure that it is well defined (my summary: environmentalism that believes sustainability can only be achieved through large-scale transformation).

Idealistically I fall more toward the bright green; that is what brought me to this site in the first place. In action I fall more into the light green. I've made a lot of small changes that make me "greener than thou" compared to most around me, but not enough to come close to sustainability. I'll do the easy work of bright green, i.e. writing letters and blog posts about needing a large-scale overhaul. I'll talk about it a bit. But since my actions are not yet leading me to a strong advocacy in the places where I can make a difference – in my faith community, in "volunteer groups", in my office – then I must admit that my efforts are a bit duller than my ideals. Assignment to self: determine a next step that can make my actions a little brighter. Perhaps Earth Day as excuse for advocacy at the office and/or local Baha'i community.

Many great points in the comments; I was particularly struck with mgrant reminding us that the reality of light green can easily become elitist because of the extra cost often involved (but that's not a reason not to be green).

One more note: how do we make sure we don't get caught up in an echo chamber of bright green here – that we listen to, and respectfully consider, the views of the rest of the spectrum?