I’ve been trying to figure out how best to communicate the benefits of environmentalism, and what it is that turns people off about what we greenies say and do. The weekend gave me several opportunities to talk this over. On Friday evening I went to a wine and cheese party at Jack’s Grill in Housatonic, a preview for my pal Crispina’s annual Earth Day Studio Sale.
Crispina is renowned, both locally and nationally, for distinctive clothing and housewares made of recycled materials. Even the product tags are recycled cereal boxes! And everything is beautifully designed, with Crispina’s high energy and sense of color. Predictably, I happened to get to talking with someone who is doing renewable energy projects in various parts of the world, Paul LeBlanc of Delenova Energy. He too felt that we need to focus on solutions, not preaching doom and gloom, and said that his work is all about giving people practical housing options that are truly sustainable.
I also spoke over the weekend to a young designer in California who also wants to see more that’s upbeat, practical, and future-focused. And I really got the message when I took a copy of The Armchair Environmentalist to my hairdresser, and friend, Jeff. He thanked me and then said, “It’s not going to get me depressed, is it?” We’d just been talking about the state of politics in the U.S. and that was depressing enough. I assured him that it wasn’t, so he said he’d read it over his coffee Sunday morning. His nervousness really summed up the problem for me: I (and my colleagues, and you too) need to find a way to show people who care, like Jeff, that they can think about the environment without feeling down. We need to change the way we look at the world and our work, and start to build a wider, more powerful community for change.