Do People Get Angry When You Try To Tell Them About Going Green?

August 8, 2007
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I don’t know about you, but I have found that when I talk about my efforts to “go green” it sometimes does not go over that well. Some people think I am being ridiculous in that everything will be fine and why spend extra money on things because they are good for the environment. Using microfiber cloths instead of paper towels, how crazy! Buying shoes made from sustainable materials, what a waste of money! I often get “I wish I was made of money like you…must be nice to spend more than you have to!” It’s a lovely conversation, I gotta tell you.

There are always going to be people that are not going to get the “green” movement whether it be because of disbelief of global problems or the wanting to spend as little money as possible, irregardless of what a product is made out of or where it came from. And as much as I disagree, I try to see their side of the argument when I can. But when people get angry at me or think my beliefs are stupid, it is hard to continue talking to them. Giving it some thought, I think I have come up with the reason why people are like this:

They are scared and feeling guilty deep down inside.

It is the only reason I can think of as to why people get mad or call me names when I talk about the environment. Nothing else makes sense as to why people would think I was crazy for spending more money on organic foods or for paying extra for organic cotton t-shirts. Why is caring for the environment (and the human race in general) such a bad thing? Is it terrible that I choose not to support giant conglomerates like Wal-Mart because of their business practices? Is it scary that when I have kids I don’t want them chewing on plastic toys covered in lead paint? Thus, the only thing I can think of is that these people do in fact want to do better, but instead of asking me about it and then trying things out, they ridicule and put environmental activists down as being “treehuggers” and “hippies”.

My purpose of writing this post is just to test the waters with you guys to see if I am alone in experiencing this or other people get the same kind of reaction from others who don’t share your “green-ness”. I never tell people that I think what they are doing is wrong (not directly, at least) but rather I try to guide them into trying something different and seeing where it takes them. And as for the “it costs too much and you are wasting your money on that crap” argument they give me; is there anything more important to spend money on than the food you put in your body or the waste you flush down our drains into the groundwater? What would be a better thing to do with my money, buy countless plastic doo-dads at Wal-Mart? No thanks, I would rather buy less stuff and spend a little more to get a quality, safe product that not only makes this place better for myself, but hopefully for others as well.

Thoughts?

Green PolkaDot Box
Filed in: Green

About the Author:

After a varied past of being a test driver for automotive television programs, a Hollywood studio lackey, and an online media sales director, David is now the publisher and editor of The Good Human. In his spare time he rides motorcycles, drinks good beer, and builds stuff in the garage. You can follow him on Twitter at @thegoodhuman or G+ at Google
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Comments (11)

  1. Tammi says:

    I have people that think I’m strange for my “hippie ways” but I’ve never had anyone be rude about it. I did get a comment today that I’m brave for using cloth diapers. Okay….

    And being ecofriendly doesn’t always mean buying more expensive. I can clean my house sparkling with vinegar and baking soda, I spend maybe $5 every couple of months. Can’t beat that. I don’t buy organic clothes, just take care of the clothes I have and wear them completely out before trashing.

    I even recycle and that’s free! And in some states they actually PAY YOU to recycle! Holy crap.

    My thinking is, my life is my business. I’ll do what I feel is right for myself and my family. If someone doesn’t like it, they can kiss my hippie ass. :)

  2. david says:

    You tell ‘em Tammi! You know, I never was a hippie but I seem to be one now!

  3. J says:

    My family thinks I’m crazy in that way. They get offended, etc etc but at the same time, my dad gets excited when there’s a big conference about Green building materials (he’s an engineer) at his office and tells me about the things I’ve been telling him for months. haha

    Anyway, I think it’s more along the lines of: “we appreciate efficiency but we don’t want to spend that extra dollar for it, or we don’t want to go out of our way to walk that half mile to work.”

    When it gets personal and inconvenient, they’re completely not green. Mind, I’ve been able to get them to switch to Method cleaners (they don’t have “time” to make their own, sigh). And with their first grandchild coming along, I think I’m convincing them to look at her future since she’s going to live in the world they leave behind for her.

    I haven’t met blatant “green is stupid” people, but I’ve met a lot of old conservatives that just hate Al Gore (and thus his “movement”). LoL.

    I wonder how much of this also relates to people who support small buisnesses instead of corporate giants like Walmart. I note that more city-dwellers understand this difference and shun the big stores, compared to suburbs where things are just not easily available.

    Being green is just being smart- less waste, more use. I find that most people are open to that approach, but it’s a crying shame we’re not more aware of what we put into our bodies and into our world. I can’t believe that this “trend” didn’t start til now. Gross gross gross.

  4. Amy says:

    I am just beginning the journey of going green and my experience has been a bit of the opposite. I have been getting mean comments from people who think I am not doing enough. It isn’t in a nice way and it discourages me from doing what I am doing. I would love to see people encouraging others in a positive way and less of the negative.

    This blog is a great place to start and I thank you for your positive efforts on here :)

  5. Shannon says:

    I think the thing that surprises the most is the number of people who simply deny that climate change is happening. These are educated people I respect with liberal politics who pay attention to the news and who are science savvy. But to see them in such a state of denial is disheartening, especially in light of the recent “tipping point” when the reality of climate change has become generally accepted by the media and even politicians

    Amy, I feel for you. I sometimes think environmentalists do more than anyone to damage their own cause by putting down people who are trying to educate themselves and make an effort. We can’t be expected to completely change instantaneously. Think of how much effort and change it will take for the U.S. to stop being a car culture. Change takes time, and we need to focus on the positive and motivating people, rather than demotivating them when they try something new by telling them it isn’t “enough.” Small steps will get us to our goal, if many people start taking them.

  6. david says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I am glad most of you are having success learning/talking about “green”, thats awesome!

  7. I’m lucky to work with people who are at least basically environmentally aware, I think I’m seen as a bit of an extremist though. My family are mostly pretty environmentally aware.