What does it mean to be green?
It’s been used so much that the buzz word “going green” can seem simplified, diluted, perhaps even disingenuous.
But consider that this well-worn slogan has become a beacon to a world in which we pay more attention to the environment and conserving the earth and embrace its meaning.
No one really knows how that phrase originated. Likely a good marketer devised it. But here’s what rings true this time of year—the green color that enters the landscape as trees begin to open their leaves in spring symbolizes life. If we want the earth to live, like the plants live, we need green.
That green is a pigment called chlorophyll. It’s what gives and leaves their color in spring and summer.
It’s a microscopic pigment but it is necessary to our being, just as green living is necessary to sustain the planet. Chlorophyll absorbs the sun’s rays, water, and the carbon dioxide humans and other mammals and wildlife exhale. Those three ingredients react to create energy for the plants, which in turn release oxygen through tiny pores on its leaves for us to breathe
This mysterious process of photosynthesis continues to be studied by scientists in the 21st century.
Like the billions of chlorophyll pigments required to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen for the world to breathe, each one of us is a part of the village of green thinkers—and we all have our ways of conserving resources.
Call yourself green, a tree hugger, an environmentalist, a conservationist, a nature lover, caretaker of the Earth, or something else – all of us can contribute to the sustainability movement.
This new column will explore conservation ideals. Sometimes they’ll be controversial, other times inspirational, but hopefully always informative.
Earth Day is April 22. On that day, choose one new activity you don’t already do to declare your greenness. Here are some ideas, which will be explored in-depth in future columns.
• Turn off the lights when you’re out of the room.
• Take shorter showers.
• Read and learn about the issues.
• Join a nature group.
• Take your children for a walk outside.
• Eat less meat.
• Walk or bike instead of driving.
• Write a journal about what you see in nature, or take photographs of the great outdoors.
• Remove some of your lawn and convert to native plantings.
• Donate funds for the purchase of open space.
• Join a workday to restore health to natural environments. Citizens for Conservation schedules workdays from 9-11 a.m. Thursdays and Saturdays year-round, weather permitting.
• Participate in Earth Day celebrations in your hometown. Citizens for Conservation has events scheduled from April 17-29. Visit the website for more information: citizensforconservation.org.
Sheryl DeVore is an environmental and nature writer for national and regional publications including Wildflower Magazine, Birds & Blooms Magazine, Illinois Audubon Society Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. She’s written three books; presents workshops on plants and birds for the Chicago Botanic Garden and other organizations; and grows native plants in her Lake County yard with her husband and ornithologist, Steven Bailey.