It is probably safe to say that most of us have busy lives. That seems to be a mantra these days, like when I see a friend and we both agree it would be good to get together soon. Then right on cue, one or the other says, "I've just been so busy!" Where are we going with all this busy-ness?
Are we making a living, or just living to make ends meet? Either way, how much time do we have on our hands to laugh with friends, teach a child or read good books? It often seems like the simple and essential pleasures in life are the first to go as the demands of modern society bear upon us.
Part of what appeals to me about the concept of green living is the focus on life. Not money, not stuff and certainly not bigger-is-better. When we get down to it, the true essence of a life well-lived has little to do with the things we have, but rather what we stand for, the influence and effects we create that help others (and not just humans) thrive. In short, it's not about what we get, but rather what we give.
When we embrace green living as a way to lighten our impact on the environment, we are giving. We benefit directly in most cases, but the greatest part of a commitment to sustainability is the gift we give to others. Whether you are reducing your energy use or making time to read a serious book on the topic of climate change, countless others will benefit from your actions.
Personally, I feel that no one is too busy to embrace green living since there is really no alternative that is logical to me. But there is an element of time involved in reaching that conclusion. It's like you have to take a long walk through the dark woods before you really appreciate the light. That walk involves gaining an understanding of the issues we face and putting them into proper perspective. This leads to a desire for change and eventually a commitment that creates results.
Scientists are telling us that, in the face of some of our most pressing issues like climate change or peak oil, one luxury we don't have is abundant time. So we must find ways to short-circuit the learning process and fast-forward right to that point of desire and commitment. Fortunately, there are those who are engaged in the process. They are among the many gift-givers of our time.
Books are magnificent in their scope, detail and ability to impart knowledge. But that pesky busy-ness gets in the way of many. We now have another tool to help: "The 11th Hour."
I'm referring to the film "The 11th Hour" produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Many have compared it to "An Inconvenient Truth," but this film is about more than climate change. It is about our home, our beautiful planet Earth, and many of the very important issues that are affecting us all. It is broad in scope and deep in meaning.
The movie documents many of the environmental challenges we face and features some of our brightest thinkers, including Paul Hawken, David Suzuki, William McDonough, Thom Hartmann, Mikhail Gorbachev, Stephen Hawking, Bill McKibben, David Orr, Richard Heinberg, Matthew Simmons, Lester Brown, Jerry Mander, Rick Fedrizzi, Theo Colburn and Andrew Weil. If you've read my columns in the past, you may recognize some of these names. I consider many of them heroes. I have read their books, heard their speeches and met with several of them personally. They are smart, informed and have very important stories to tell.
If one took the time to study the work these people have produced, it would be the equivalent of that slow walk through the forest. The emerging details would lead to a greater understanding of the big picture. Perhaps you can make the time to do that; it's well worth the journey. But in the meantime, this film can bring much to one's awareness. We have an incredible opportunity before us to make a huge difference for billions of people. Yes, your actions are that important! What could be more positive than that?
I highly recommend seeing "The 11th Hour" at least once. If something spurs your interest, then follow your instincts and dive in further. Visit the film's Web site, 11thHourAction.com. But do it quickly. Many scientists tell us that we are not only in the 11th hour but in the 59th minute as well. Don't wait, hesitate, procrastinate or equivocate. Just do it. Embrace this opportunity to learn more about our world and our responsibilities. The most important part of green living is in the learning ... and the giving.
Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, specializing in renewable energy, green building, alternative transportation and lifestyle choices for both residential and commercial clients. The company is committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. Rypka can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information relating to this column is posted at www.greendream.biz.