By Marlena Norwood
Since you’re reading this blog, you probably identify yourself as an eco-friendly individual who values sustainability. Sometimes an environmentally ignorant culture can be overwhelming; it can seem as if no one cares – no one accepts global warming stats, no one cares about the endangered species, no one pays attention to the amount of waste they send to the landfill.
Environmentally and globally conscious people are especially sensitive to comments that ridicule their efforts – such as “global warming is a natural occurrence; it has nothing to do with human activity!” Comments like these make it seem as though our individual and concerted efforts as environmentalists have not made an impact in changing people’s perceptions and actions.
This overall ignorance and uncaring attitude may seem to indicate that nothing has changed. But it has. Environmental activists and proponents of sustainability have made huge impacts. Take two examples: the food industry, and residential developments.
The Food Industry
Large-scale food production has enormous environmental impacts, especially in the form of industrial agriculture. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) severely degrade the land and contribute greatly to global warming. This concern for the environment prompts some people to switch to meatless diets or to lessen their meat intake. The successes of activism around industrial agriculture (coupled with animal rights and welfare) are demonstrated in the food industry by the number of vegetarian and vegan options available in restaurants and supermarkets.
Another indicator of the success of sustainability advocates in food production is that restaurants are beginning to value and advertise sustainability. Two standouts in this category are Jimmy Johns and Chipotle. Jimmy Johns recently added a sustainability tab to its home page that describes its eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Chipotle went so far as to make a cartoon commercial (that went viral on the internet) demonstrating their sustainable and ethical raising of meat.
Housing and Living Spaces
Sustainability practices are also taking root in the housing industry. Due to the increased demand for environmentally friendly living spaces, developers in New York City are increasingly looking to be certified by LEED standards – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, according to a recent New York Times article. And more than a third of states are now heavily incentivizing developers to build to the standards of third-party certifiers such as LEED.
As you can see, the green movement is making headway. The demand for sustainability and eco-friendliness is manifesting itself in two important aspects of our lives – what we eat and where we live.
How can you continue to encourage environmentally friendly practices in these two areas of your life?
- Check out Dine Green’s green restaurant ratings – they have certified restaurants across the nation and made their green ratings available to the public. Make an effort to eat at these restaurants. Many times, when a restaurant does employ green/sustainable practices, it will make that known.
- Educate yourself about the LEED certification process and what LEED is doing to ensure that buildings are green.
- View this intriguing documentary about the building of a green building.
- Use your consumer power to support the greenest companies – view Forbes’ rankings (Intel is leading the pack!).