Kelly Parker, PhD – Green

Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Grand Valley State University
View more information about Kelly Parker, PhD.

Video Transcript:

I love the way the word green has showed up in our common language.  I think that’s a great sign of an increased awareness about environmental concerns.  But if you’ve paid any attention, you’re noticing this word seems to mean an awful lot of things.  We’ve got green buildings, green playgrounds, green jobs, green offices, even green religion.  The list goes on and on.  You may be wondering, what do any of these and all of these things have in common?  Does it mean anything to slap this word green on something?  Does that make it different?  Well, it may or may not in a particular case, but in general, to identify a product or a movement or an idea as green is just to say, hey, we recognize that environmental considerations are an important part of this.  It’s part of what we’re trying to identify.  A green product—a green refrigerator—not only is it hopefully a good value for the price and durable and reliable and chills your food the way a refrigerator is supposed to, but if it’s identified as a green refrigerator, that means things like energy efficiency, the toxicity of the manufacturing products, the source of the materials, that those are, to some degree, more environmentally friendly.  I think that’s the…  The widespread use of the word green signals a change in the way we value things and the things that we recognize as important.

Now, green, like any other buzz word, cultural trend, fashion, has its adherence, has its even fanatics.  We’ve probably all run into that green puritan, as I think of them.  The one who recycles everything.  The one who only buys organic foods.  The one who only wears sustainably manufactured clothing.  That sets a very high standard and those folks are exploring what’s possible for the rest of us.  But, if you’re aware of this character type, you’re aware that they can turn people off.  Do we all have to go 100% perfect in our green efforts?  On the one hand, it’s not feasible for a lot of people.  On the other hand, frankly, people sometimes throw away a plastic bottle now and then, just to spite that green puritan next door.

Now think about the math.  If one person, say, generates 4 pounds of reclaimable waste a day, that’s 28 pounds a week.  If that one person gets all of that, that’s 28 pounds reclaimed.  Great deal.  If 50 people reclaim ¼ or ½ of their waste, right, not 100%, the overall effect is much greater.  That’s really where we want to have the effect.  We want this to be a general movement.  More efficiency across the board.  We could learn from the puritans, but we don’t all have to be perfect.

Topics: Green — October 2nd by Kelly Parker, PhD

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