50 Shades of Green

There seems to be an incredibly broad spectrum of what people consider green.


Here are a few of my observations:

The yuppie greenie: $30k hybrids, $20k solar panels, $5 boxes of non-gmo, organic mac ‘n cheese.

The hippie greenie: Thrift stores, dumpster diving, veganism.

The homestead greenie: Self sufficiency, living off the grid, the ultimate DIY-ers.

The luddite greenie: Living off the natural ecosystem, lack of permanent residence, hunter/gatherer type.

The no impact greenie: Zero waste, plastic-free, carbon-neutral.


These are obviously over generalizations and over labeling, and most people, such as myself, are in a combination of categories. I personally can relate with the sentiments of each category, and all are noble, but are they sustainable? Can we ask that everyone shell out tens of thousands of dollars for solar panels? Don’t hybrids still promote obesity and sprawl? Can we suggest everyone risk rummaging through a dumpster? Is it likely or even healthy for the mass population to give up meat? Is it possible to have zero waste in a modern world? Can we expect the modern domesticated human to live off the land or isolate themselves in a homestead in the woods?

Most importantly, does the average greenie think about the tradeoffs of their choices?


Let’s look at a different category. A category which is much more doable and scalable by the mass population, as proven with the current popularity of blogs and books.

The simple living greenie: Work/life balance; early retirement; financial independence; part time work; sabbaticals; frugality, minimalism, slow food, slow travel; active transportation; muscle over motor.


What the simple living greenie is not:

The simple living greenie doesn’t make declarations that they can’t keep, such as zero or neutral. They don’t look for expensive alternative technologies and products, but rather reduce. They know they are not perfect. They know that putting too many restrictions on a modern lifestyle can be stressful, draining and sometimes unhealthy. They are not promoting a ‘one size fits all’ solution, because simple living and eco-friendly living looks different for everyone. These are the people who don’t like to label themselves  with any one particular trend or crowd, but rather they make a lifestyle that suits their values.

They care for the environment, but are not doom and gloom or judgmental to others.


What the simple living greenie is:

They know they need stuff in a modern world, and the amount of stuff differs from person to person, but they are designing a modern life to put people, time and experiences before stuff… even ‘green’ stuff. They know that meeting emotional and physiological needs are ultimately more important than either ‘being green’ or the mindless accumulation of consumer goods. They find enjoyment in solving problems by doing, rather than paying. They value purpose over a paycheck.

They know that many people really don’t want to be green, but want to save green and be happier and healthier.


In summary:

They don’t deprive or restrict themselves, but rather choose the simplest, lowest impact lifestyle to create freedom and maximum effect for themselves, not for societal conformity. This is sustainable.


What are your thoughts? Is simple the new green?



17 thoughts on “50 Shades of Green

  1. I love your definition of the simple living greenie, and I think the majority of us are that. No one is zero waste, and I think the value in that category is to shock and awe–to make sustainability ‘sexy.’ It grabs attention and (hopefully) more awareness for the environment. But we need people advertising simple living as well since that is way more do-able and will hopefully hook people in for life!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ARGH! I didn’t get notification of this post. :(

    Banners and balloons and confetti should come shooting out of the screen when you put up a new post! :)

    I find it amazing how much money people will spend to save money. Buying a $40,000 car to save money on gas. That one truly gives me a hoot. Now if you’re spending 40k to help the planet and you can afford that 40k, now that’s a different story. But I wish people would stop spending $100 to save a dime. It makes me way too ticklish! :D

    Super post, as always, GG! Your posts really shine a light on so much lunacy! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that if you have to buy a car and you can afford it, then by all means get the hybrid, but it is not realistic for the mass population. I know what you mean about spending money to save money. There is always a cheaper and simpler way to save money and the planet! :)

      Liked by 2 people

      • My issue is that a lot of people who buy that hybrid already have a perfectly serviceable car! It for sure takes more total energy and resources to manufacture that brand new hybrid than said car will ever “save” in the way of gas!

        But love your definition, and think we fit this mold as well. We don’t like extreme labels, but certainly strive not to use more than we need or contribute unnecessary waste. Really it’s just about making your decisions and purchases mindfully, not mindlessly. :-)


  3. Simple green – that is something I can get behind. All or nothing type approaches often lead to people shrugging their shoulders and choosing “nothing”, rather than doing something – even one small thing.


  4. I am a mix of all of these.
    1. Yes, I have some spendings: electrical bread machine, sewing machine, plan to put solar panels, but I am not first group.
    2. I buy second hand and selling second hand etc.. But I am not vegan, the meat is just an ingredient.
    3. homestead: yes, as far as possible in a town: container gardening, ecological garden rent, buy local food etc. but I am not pure.
    4. I collect wild plants for salads and juices, but I think the hunt is forbitten here :) (even I look after the wild ducks and rabbits )
    5. I read the book zero-waste. I still didn’t arrive to zero, just a bag to the garbage weekly.

    Whatever, I disagree with the extremes. Puritans are usually obsessed and are going to the limit of my acceptance. My solution is the balance, simplicity, and to take care.

    In plus, I am thinking to buy local, to pay attention from where is that product and how is made. There are a lot of exploitation of workers in Bangladesh and pollution because of the textile painting so I prefer to made/ repare/ give another chance for items/food/books/people.


  5. I disagree. I would like to be a wealthy man, but I’d like to live a simple life. Having millions does not mean that I’ll splurge on massive mansions and expensive European sport cars. I don’t think a lot of millionaires and billionaires are all that happy. However, only when you have money can you enjoy financial freedom.


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