Guest Blog: Green Living - Is It Really Beneficial?

Guest Blog: Green Living - Is It Really Beneficial?
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Over the past few years, the concept of “green living” and sustainability have become very trendy. People appreciate the idea of giving back to nature and reducing our impact on the world. Every other company now offers “green” products, whether it is using recycled packaging, shipping products in electric vehicles, or supplementing electricity with wind power.

The trouble is, no one really knows how helpful these actions are. While most of them do raise awareness about the health of our planet and our impact on it, we may not actually be any closer to sustainable living than we were 20 years ago.

According to the paper “The Macroecology of Sustainability” from the University of New Mexico and the Sante Fe Institute, most sustainable trends in the modern world were created with little thought to the ecological principles that the earth uses. Most scientific green efforts try to make normal living have a reduced impact on the world, but many of the solutions are as unsustainable as the original problem. For example, replacing coal-powered electricity with solar panels. Solar panels require energy to manufacture, and use a variety of chemicals and earth-harming materials during production.

Take a look at some of the popular green trends of the day and see why the issue of sustainability is not quite as cut and dried as we would wish it to be.

Alternative Fuels
Alternative fuels are one of the most-promoted green practices of the day. The goal of this practice is to replace fossil fuels with earth-friendly alternatives, such as electric power and bio-based fuel. The trouble with these methods is that not only do they take huge amounts of energy to manufacture, but they are also more expensive than traditional fuel. This means that fewer people can use them, which reduces the effectiveness of the tool. To become truly beneficial, the cost of alternative fuels must be less than that of current fuel types.

Green Electricity
Green electricity from wind turbines or solar panels seems really beneficial to the world. However, it takes a lot of electricity, materials, and factory processing to make the generators. They are also more expensive and less efficient than traditional electricity sources. While they do produce electricity without consuming after their initial construction, they are still not really sustainable. To make these more sustainable, they would need to be build on a smaller scale using local materials.

Reduced Plastic
Another green trend is replacing plastic with other materials or with plastic made from alternative sources (like corn). Again, the problem is with how the alternative plastics are made. A better option would be to replace the plastic altogether with cloth, glass, or another low-impact material. Often the replacement materials are more expensive and use more resources than the original plastic. If we made more of an effort to actually replace plastic, rather than just reducing its presence, that would make a much bigger difference in the world.

The issue of true sustainability is difficult. As humans, we are naturally consuming creatures. Even the humans of the past did not lead sustainable lives, leading to the extinction of some species and other problems. To really become more sustainable, we will have to face the issue on a much deeper level.

Writer Biography
This is a guest post by Lindsey Mcmahon. Her interests are entertainment, television, parenting and health but she is constantly extending her field of view to incorporate interesting news suggested to her by her readers.  She currently works for Common Ground.


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