Morrison: It really is easy to be green

Morrison: It really is easy to be green

July 31st, 2009 by Chloé Morrison in Green

This column topic recently spawned the following -- only semi-serious -- conversation:

Me: I'm writing about ways to go green.

Reporter 1: Why? We can't save the planet. It's too late. (To Reporter 2) Don't you think it is too late?

Reporter 2: The real question here is -- is the planet worth saving?

This is a perfect example of my generation's fatalistic, pessimistic, frivolous way of thinking that leads to inaction in many areas, from politics to environmentalism.

I do not mean to be a traitor to my generation, because I feel connected to my fellow Millennials, and we aren't all lazy and careless all the time. In many situations, we are hardworking, innovative and creative.

But we are a contradiction.

On the one hand, most of us throw ourselves into our work and personal lives. We keep up with music and news. We multitask like it's nobody's business, and don't get me started about how easily we adapt to technology.

On the other hand, some smoke cigarettes as if they are immortal, eat junk as if they aren't becoming obese and abuse the earth as if there is no hope.

Recently, the Disney Family Network conducted "The Green Challenge," asking residents nationwide to send their best ideas for going green. One of the winner's responses moved me and made me feel very inadequate.

Lisa from Oklahoma said that every year her two young sons have given up birthday presents to help the environment.

"In lieu of gifts at their birthday parties, they have asked for donations to help save their favorite animals -- tigers and jaguars," Lisa wrote.

If two children (Lisa doesn't say how old they are) can give up birthday presents, I can surely take out my recycling every week, instead of letting it pile up and resorting to throwing cans away when there is no more space.

If my entire generation would put in a little more effort and set the example for others and stop -- as musician John Mayer puts it -- "waiting on the world to change," we could contribute to a real transformation that could be our legacy.

It really isn't that hard, if we can motivate ourselves to care. Here are three easy ways to help. And although I focus here on the Millennials -- everyone should take this to heart.

* Get out of the car instead of waiting in the drive-through. New York City has created anti-idling laws as an air-pollution control measure. And according to, leaving a car engine idling for more than 10 seconds actually uses more fuel than stopping and restarting the engine. It also causes more engine wear than stopping and restarting.

* Unplug your appliances. You may have heard this one, but instead of dismissing it, this time do it. Don't leave cell-phone chargers, televisions, lights or coffee makers plugged in when you aren't using them. Is it really so hard to plug and unplug them?

* Don't drink bottled water. OK. Before you flip out and think "I'm not drinking that nasty tap water," I don't mean for you to do that. But instead of buying and throwing away a million plastic bottles, use a purifier on your tap and get one of those trendy reusable aluminum bottles.

And if you still don't feel the urge to help, go to Prentice Cooper State Forest and look over the Tennessee River Gorge. The view is breathtaking, and to think that such amazing environmental assets could be lost without changed habits is heartbreaking.