BP Protest Ride

What’s It Mean to Be Green?



I recently hosted a lunch discussion about sustainability. We discussed many things that afternoon but the one thing that stuck in my head long after the lunch was over was the idea of what it means to be green.

Vegetarians have a single measure: do you eat meat or don’t you? Vegans don’t eat any animal products at all. Some go as far as to not use any product that is or has animal parts such as leather or certain cosmetics. There’s a measure to determine if you are successfully being a good Vegetarian or Vegan. What’s more, you wear it on your sleeve. Spend a day with someone who doesn’t eat meat and you’ll certainly notice. Smoking and drinking have similar hard-line edges that you can see. But what about sustainability?

During the lunch discussion I asked everyone if there was one action we could all agree upon that would draw the line between someone who is sustainable and someone who was not. Could we identify and quantify what it meant to be green? There were lots of ideas but in the end we didn’t come up with any one thing. In fact, we came up with a bunch of ad campaigns—go figure.

The question stayed in my head for days and I kept thinking about it until finally there was a shift.

The Answer

Cars. If you own a car you’re not green. Period. No meat for Vegetarians. No animals for Vegans. No cars for Greenies. It’s one simple action that has a huge impact on the environment and you can choose to participate or not. There are only two sides to the fence.

Usually the activity that people partake in or refrain from is the thing that defines their dedication to a cause or purpose. If masses of people ditched their cars and began relying on some other form of transportation we would definitely feel a shift. Just like not eating meat, going carless is something that people will notice. It’s a meme that can be replicated.

Carless = green. Car = not green. Carless = beyond petroleum (in the truest sense). Car = you destroy the planet a little bit each day.

If you’re having a reaction like, “No way I’m giving up my car,” then you are not green. Simple. It’s like how people react and say, “I’m not giving up steak,” when they hear about vegetarianism. Want to go green? Go carless.

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Comments 2

Zed Bailey


This paints a very green and black picture when the reality presents itself with many more gradients of green.

I suggest a field trip to Forest Park to illustrate this point.  On arrival do you find yourself wishing everything was the same hue of green?

Of course not.

Likewise, we all have contributing abilities to the spectrum of green.

There are so many variables in lush shades of green.

What about the driver that commutes to a green job?

Or the car driver that opts to drive a gas guzzler half as much as a regular car?

Or the person whose job demands they have an automobile (ie on call nurses) ?

What it means to be green is world filled with small choices that make a bigger impact.

To discount someone immediately for not being green because they drive a car is short sided.

Carless doesn’t mean careless.



Well said Zed. There are gradients of green just as there are gradients of pollution, but having no car is a replicable action that puts a person squarely in the green.

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