Gauge your Green
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   Going green—and I’m not talking “green with envy”—is all the rage. It’s gone way beyond low-flow showerheads. Now we’re talking carbon credits and hybrid cars.
   Green businesses profess the triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial responsibility. Work at home and have a smaller “carbon footprint.” Treat weary employees to invigorating massages and time off to exercise. Choose vendors who employ green business practices. Invest your greenbacks in green companies. 
   I recently read a Letter to the Editor” proposing a new crude oil barrel tax to “slowly and predictably” increase the price per barrel to “slowly wean us from our addiction to foreign oil while encouraging investment in new, greener technologies.” The idea is to bring on the bad to make it all good…increase fuel costs to force Americans to purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles.
  While I’ve always been a tree hugger, animal lover, avid gardener and newspaper and beverage container recycler, I have no idea how to rack up carbon credits. 
   I often ask myself, am I doing enough? How good is my green? I figure my “shade” of green could improve. But how do I measure it?
   I recently attended a presentation by Joel Makower, whom the Associated Press calls “the guru of green business practices.” Makower is chairman and executive editor of Greener World Media and has authored the recent book, “Strategies for the Green Economy.” Makower’s mantra for going green can be found at Greener World’s 
   While Makower’s talk was geared to businesses, it rings true for the individual effort too. We should be green at work, at home, at play, right? I think of “going green” as a lifestyle.
   The green guru said there are no standards or norms in place to evaluate our green efforts. We can rank ourselves compared to what others around us are doing, but is that a true metric? It’s like comparing yourself to the Joneses—what does that mean? 
   According to Makower, you should ask yourself three questions to gauge your green. 
First, do you understand what you’re doing from an environmental or green perspective? If you recycle your newspapers, then you’d need to check out how forests are being cut down to make newsprint. What happens to the recycled newsprint after you put it in the bin? 
   Does your green plan—whether at home or work—have a goal or target and a process for addressing problems along the way? Get out the solar-powered calculator for tackling this question and be prepared to do some research. Hitching a ride to work with a neighbor once-in-a-while is good; sharing a regular commute while factoring mileage, gas, oil saved and greenhouse emissions averted is way better.
   Investigating “why” and improving on “what” you’re doing green will provide good info to share with others. Makower says sharing your green process is vital for gauging greenness. Reporting your efforts leads to the last question: Are you talking opening and authentically about what you are doing? You have to walk the walk to talk the talk.
   I think every green effort is a step in the right direction, whether calculated or casual. While talking green is often about high-tech, geeky stuff, it’s also about our bodies, our families, our communities—things that matter most. 
   Some of us can take baby steps and some of us can scale green skyscrapers. The idea is to climb the ladder to a greener tomorrow. If you aren’t sparkling like an emerald, it’s okay. You will still get some kind of planetary credit for your efforts–even if it’s personal satisfaction for trying to make the world a better place.
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