Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Six Degrees

10/4/2006 12:00:00 AM


After putting the November/December issue of Natural Home to bed, I scrambled last week to prepare a speech to give on Saturday at West Coast Green, a momentous gathering of eco-minded designers, builders and product manufacturers that took place in San Francisco.

The event was terrific. More than 7,500 people attended two days of professionals-only workshops and presentations, and a heartwarming number of homeowners showed up when the conference opened to the public on Saturday. My speech…well, I’ve given better. In the narcissistic dissection that inevitably follows such an event (at least for me), I’ve found myself musing for the past couple of days about what I said, didn’t say and could have said at the podium.

The organizers asked me to talk on the subject of “Green Goes Mainstream,” which seemed easy enough. I’ve been chronicling that very thing in this blog for the past year and a half. The “mainstream” press has been all over green building and renewable energy lately, and Dwell magazine even had those very words emblazoned across its September/October cover.

But as I dug into the research that would give my speech substance, a couple of things stopped me. The first was a crushing statistic: Despite all the great press “clean technology” and renewable energy is getting these days (word is that venture capitalists are jumping on anything labeled “clean tech” just as they did websites in the dot-com era), renewable energy still accounts for only 6 percent of the total U.S. energy market. Six percent. That’s exactly where it was in 1974.

Another thing that stopped me may seem trivial, but it sent me down a rabbit hole that I continue to follow. A study published last week in the journal Psychology of Music found that hip-hop fans are the least likely segment of the population to recycle and to support development of alternative energy sources. I started floating this statistic among my friends. “But of course,” some of them said. “Kids these days don’t care about anything.” (Am I really old enough to have friends who say things like that?) “So what?” said others. But I can’t let go of what this says about who the “green movement” is reaching and how.

Can we really claim that green has “gone mainstream” if we’re not reaching or appealing to this up-and-coming, influential demographic? Whether you love or despise hip-hop music (or just really don’t know much about it), there’s no denying that it carries serious cred in our culture. My Sirius satellite radio has an entire segment devoted to hip-hop channels. Hip-hop superstars lend their weight to everything from designer clothing to bedsheets. There’s big money to be made in hip-hop, and capitalists have taken note.

What I was too shy to say during my speech at West Coast Green was that there’s a certain arrogance implied in the idea that green has gone mainstream because the primarily white, middle- to upper-class segment of our population has taken note. It’s not necessarily a hot topic with my relatives in small-town Iowa, and it’s not being rapped about. Our vision is tunneled.

I dream of the day when we don’t even need to use the label “green,” when living consciously is simply the way we all live. We’re not there yet. Martha Stewart jumped on the bandwagon with her 'Going Green Week' this week. With a little help from Ludacris, we might just get there.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Robyn Griggs Lawrence
3/9/2011 3:53:11 PM
Great comments, Tammy! And I had to laugh at your last teenagers wish I would be LESS hippie and more soccer mom. Go figure!

tammy blodgett
3/7/2011 4:31:07 PM
It's true there are certain segments of our society that never have to concern themselves about their frivolous wasting and what that may be doing to our very existence. when they are hungry they simple go buy food without though. Their biggest question may be what restaurant to go to, or will it be take out tonight. Many never prepare their own meals, let alone grow their own food. Survival of the fittest is a career move, not self sustainable living or knowledge of natural balance. Though it was once pointed out to me that knowledge of social networking and connections for obtaining necessities in a city is a form of survival of the fittest that I do not understand. A response to my rural superiority standpoint. A form of reverse snobbery perhaps.(Ahem,I,being from the county, am therefore better than you, city dweller, because I do not have to concern myself with my ability to flush and turn on a shower,if need be I shall squat behind a tree and collect water to heat on my wood stove to bath.) I am surrounded by a natural food and water supply that I have had to depend on at one time or another in my life.I know its importance,it is worth protecting. My new neighbors and I are working on a community garden on my land.I see people coming together like this a lot more than I use too, out of necessity.We may not be able to afford Green cars but we can raise our own food. I feel I am mainstream.My 15yr old thinks I should be more Hippyish...Whatever.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.