Do we live a “green” life to better the world, or feel better about ourselves?  This is an important question that we must all ask ourselves when we look into our environmental mirror so to speak.  While we are doing more than ever before, we all need to be better informed as to what we are doing, and why we are doing it.

We all have that friend who drives a hybrid or an electric car.  They talk about the great mileage, low emissions, and how they are saving the world by not being chained to the oil-producing nations of the world.   If the car is powered by electricity, there needs to be some sort of facility or plant that more than likely is burning something to produce the electricity needed to power the car.  These plants are typically the ones you see belching out black smoke.  So while the car has low emissions, the “fuel” needed to run these machines have high emissions.

Carbon credits, or what I like to call, the price of feeling good.  I am doing something bad for the environment so I will pay a few dollars for someone else to plant a tree somewhere to “erase” my carbon footprint.  If you really think about this what you have purchased is air, or traded your dirty air for someone else’s clean air.  No remorse, no effort, just a few dollars to feel better.

Now don’t get me wrong, planting trees is a good thing and lessening our mark on the world should be commended, but why haven’t we done more, not just paid more?  The environment has been in decline for decades, yet we are still grasping at straws as to how to solve this problem.  Gas mileage for cars has not been dramatically changed.  We produce more trash than ever before.  Global warming continues.  Recycling is still the exception, not the norm.  What will it take to change our opinion and actions as to how we treat the world around us?

Will it be the day that the garbage truck no longer visits our house because there is no room for any more trash at the landfill?

When it is safer for us to be indoors as opposed to outdoors because the air quality is so low?

When oil ceases to exist and we are forced to get from place to place without our car or SUV?

My take is that we need to look at products that are given a second life.  Recycling can better the environment, but it must be increased exponentially to help.  It lessens the amount of trash, saves resources such as oil, uses existing resources to create new or different products, and allows us to take ownership, and an active role in how our world will look in the future.  We can no longer “buy” our way out of this mess we have created, we need our actions to speak louder than our words.  Recycle a can, purchase a long-lasting rubber mulch, ride a bike, make it a habit to visit the local recycling center, and plant a tree, not because you feel guilty, but because it is the right thing to do.