Everyone is obsessed with going green lately. It’s the cool thing to do. I can respect people trying to preserve what God created to be beautiful, and I like to think I’m doing my part, but in reality, isn’t it more that we’re just making minor changes to destroy God’s creation at a slightly slower pace?
I know Al Gore has a lot to do with all this attention and concern over the earth (thanks in large part to his documentary An Inconvenient Truth) – and believe me, I don’t have any problem with Mr. Gore (the guy invented the internet after all!) – but more than anything, I think a lot of people have used this whole movement of loving the earth and making changes to be sensitive to the environment as an opportunity to feel like they’re helping (or at least get recognized as someone who is helping) while doing as little as possible. Let me give a quick example of what I’m talking about:
Very few of the people today with scooters and hybrids (especially the green crowd favorite, the Toyota Prius) are actually driving less, but they are spending less money on gas…and saving money is always cool.
I don’t want to get into a long rant about the good and bad of all this, because I don’t think it would lead to anything good (so what’s the point), but I did want to discuss the this whole “going green” thing enough to share something that happened to me today.
It was a beautiful fall day in Minneapolis. The sun was shining. The leaves are changing from green into deep shades of yellow, red and orange. And it was the perfect temperature (when you can wear warm or cool weather clothes and be equally comfortable in either). I had a few things to pick up at Target, so I hopped in my car, popped open the sunroof and turned on some Coldplay. I was feeling pretty good. I chose a parking spot in the back half of the lot because it just seemed like too nice of a day to park in front, even though there were plenty of open spots closer to the store. As I strolled into Target, performing the somewhat awkward “where do I go so I’m not in the way of cars” walk all the way through the parking lot, I ended up behind an older woman who was moving really slow and looked a bit confused. I couldn’t go around her without weaving between cars or jumping in front of them, and plus I became interested in whatever it was that she was doing, so I stayed behind her even though I wanted to walk faster.
There is a Starbucks inside this particular Target, and in the coffee shop there are some windows looking out into the parking lot. As the old woman and I walked along the sidewalk next to the store, she kept stopping at each window to look in, although she never seemed to see who/what she was looking for. When we finally made it to the entrance she reached her hand toward the garbage and didn’t even notice when the wind took the white piece of whatever out of her hand and it completely missed the garbage can. Being just a few steps behind her, it ended up on the ground right in front of me … [here comes my green moment, my opportunity to be environmentally friendly] … I picked up my foot to step on it – saving it from becoming another piece of trash floating around the earth – and then, I did something I’ve been regretting the rest of the day. I picked it up and threw it away.
Right now you’re probably wondering, why would you regret picking up a piece of trash and throwing it away? I’ll explain in a second, but first let’s get back to the whole “going green” thing. Like I said, I have no problem whatsoever with the environmental awareness and care initiatives. It’s actually a great cause and I’m glad people are taking it seriously. I just don’t think it’s something anyone should brag about, as if they’re better than others because they live “more green” than them, especially when being “green” often requires a certain level of expendable income that many people are not fortunate enough to have…making it a lot like so many other issues, for instance, the issue of eating healthy vs. unhealthy (it costs more to eat healthy than unhealthy, which is one of the reasons why people living in lower economic classes often have more health issues than those living in the higher classes, but that’s a topic for another day). I happen to think the slogan “go green” that you see all over the place today is a great reminder for people to do little things that will really help the environment. I would actually compare it to the WWJD bracelets that were so popular not too long ago. Sure, green signs or Jesus bracelets probably aren’t going to solve any problems, and they’re really just pointing out something that we should have already been thinking about, but they do serve as effective reminders that can have an affect on our attitude about a lot of things that will all help us all be more loving and better stewards of what God has given and entrusted to us. But let’s get back to the Target parking lot and the little old lady.
When we left the story a few paragraphs ago I had just reached down to pick up the little white piece of trash she had attempted to throw away. I also said that I now regret doing so, and I want to explain why this is the case. You see, as I was bending down to pick up whatever it was she had poorly attempted to drop in the garbage, my mind caught up with what was going on and informed me that what I was about to pick up was not just a piece of paper paper or an old receipt as I had assumed. No no, I would have no regrets about picking up one of Miss Daisy’s notes to herself or an old shopping list, but what I was about to pick up, and eventually did pick up and hold in my hand for approximately five disgusting seconds, was an old…snotty…kleenex. Gross, right? And when I was reaching down I realized what it was, but by then I had already committed to it (I was bent half down to the ground with my arm extended). Plus, I was “going green” in public, there were other people all around. What was I gonna do, stand up, lift my foot and let it blow away? I suppose I could have turned to the people walking in and out of the store who witnessed what I had done and explain to them what was going on…”I decided not to pick it up because it was that old lady’s snotty kleenex and I just didn’t want to touch it, let alone risk catching whatever illness she might currently have. You understand, right?” I mean seriously, how ridiculous would it have been if I said all that? Plus I was having a good day up until that point, and I didn’t want anything to ruin my vibe. But I have to admit, my vibe was starting to waiver a bit when when I walked into Target. I was actually praying that I wouldn’t end up with a cold as a result of my efforts to save the environment, one kleenex at a time.
So is going green always worth it? I’m not sure yet. I suppose it’ll take until tomorrow to know if I’m in the clear from any sick-germs that might have been lingering on that nasty kleenex. Here’s to hoping the old lady was healthy, and that she found what she was looking for at Target. I’m sure she did…they have everything at Target.