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What does "Living Green" Mean?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Living green means having a lifestyle that is environmentally conscious. It means being earth-friendly or environmentally friendly, rather than doing things that are harmful to our world. In general, living green can be accomplished through doing what is know as "the 3 Rs": recycling, reusing and reducing.

Reducing waste helps lower the amount of garbage in landfills. Garbage piled up causes pollution; it's difficult to dispose of cleanly and some of it ends up in the oceans. Some groups focused on green living have protested the amount of packaging that manufacturers use in making products, such as having an item in a box with plastic wrap over it. Many companies today have new packaging designs that are more environmentally friendly, resulting in less waste.

Recycled paper.
Recycled paper.

One of the most important ways of living green is to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. Emissions from cars are a strong threat to sustainable living. Environmental sustainability refers to the maintenance of resources for healthy living to continue. It's a known fact that if we continue to pollute the earth, it will no longer be a sustainable environment for future generations. Not only driving less, but buying food locally rather than having it transported from long distances is another way of participating in green living by helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Switching to energy efficient CFL lights can help people live green.
Switching to energy efficient CFL lights can help people live green.

Reusing items helps keep them from piling up in the landfill. Donating still usable, but unwanted clothing and household goods to people or organizations allows the items to have a second life rather than having to be processed as garbage. Reusing stained or ripped clothing as cleaning rags is another way of living green. In addition to being reused, cloth rags cut down or eliminate the amount of paper towels needed in a household. Unless they're made from recycled materials, paper towels aren't considered environmentally friendly as the pulp they consist of comes from natural resources including trees.

Glass bottles can be recycled.
Glass bottles can be recycled.

Many companies today are more environmentally conscious than they were in past decades. Some manufacturers choose greener methods for producing goods, while others use recycled materials. Using recycled paper products made for the kitchen and bathroom that earth-conscious companies produce are a part of living green today.

Most cities have recycling programs in which residents not only place garbage out for pick up, but items that can be recycled rather than sent to the landfill. Bins can be used to store glass bottles, newspapers, plastic containers and many other recyclable goods in the home until pickup day. Living green means never throwing anything into the garbage before considering whether it can be recycled instead. Container manufacturers today place numbers on items such as margarine tubs and inserts that hold commercial cookies or crackers so that consumers know whether certain product containers are recyclable.

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Discussion Comments


@browncoat - You have to be careful using that argument though, because things are rarely that simple. If you are buying locally grown apples, you are probably spending more money on them and that's why they can afford to grow them like that.

But it's not the most efficient thing they could have done with that space.

Living green is an admirable goal and will be better for everyone in the long run, but if you have to be extremely inefficient for what is no more than a fad it won't work.


@Mor - Living green is easiest when people simplify their lives as much as possible. If you aren't eating much processed food, you don't have to worry about where individual components come from. An apple that is grown locally is exactly what it says it is and it didn't come to you with a debt of transport pollution either.

If you grow that apple yourself you can be even more certain that nothing was harmed when it was made and, if anything, growing it was a good thing for the environment.


You end up having to do a fair bit of research if you truly want to live green. In this day and age almost every product available to you has gone through multiple stages of processing to reach the supermarket and may need to go through even more stages in order to be recycled.

People might think that buying something that says "Made in the USA" means at least it was made locally and there isn't any long distance pollution involved in shipment of ingredients, but that's not true. That label only means that a product was assembled in the USA, not that all the individual components were made or grown in that country.

So, if it's a shirt, the cotton might have been grown in China and the dye made from chemicals in India and so forth. It might seem like a green option, but you have to dig deeper to make sure it truly is one.

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    • Recycled paper.
      Recycled paper.
    • Switching to energy efficient CFL lights can help people live green.
      By: li_al
      Switching to energy efficient CFL lights can help people live green.
    • Glass bottles can be recycled.
      By: Elnur
      Glass bottles can be recycled.
    • Bins can be used to store glass bottles in the home until pickup day.
      By: Aleš Nowák
      Bins can be used to store glass bottles in the home until pickup day.