It's a powerful piece of pop culture, the book 50 Shades of Gray. How powerful? Forty million copies sold -- so far! But let's ask a more hopeful question. How might our world change if that many people became equally obsessed with 50 Shades of Green? Entertaining escape fantasies regularly sweep the country, but shades of green are having a harder time. Still, many inquiring readers are also curious about how to tackle a truly world-changing fantasy -- how do you change your lifestyle from barely 'green' at all to sustainable 'deep green' living? At some point along the way, an organic mattress is a good choice in becoming more green. For starters, though, the size of your home and your travel will probably have the biggest impact.
Individual paths to serious 'green' living vary widely. It's easy to be critical of someone driving a big SUV while at the same time praising the person one car behind who is driving a hybrid. After all, SUVs guzzle more fuel than hybrid vehicles do.
If we followed them both home, though, we might find the SUV driver living in a smaller home with an organic garden, dual flush toilets, rain barrels, repurposed furniture, and a modest, low-consumption lifestyle. Maybe he has the big SUV to haul all the green things to his house... while the hybrid driver might own a 7,000 square foot house with a huge chemically-fertilized lawn and sports cars in the garage.
Greening gracefully means respecting the right of each person to make their own choices as best as they can. After all, no one is perfectly green. You'd have to live in the country, grow your own food, walk everywhere or ride a horse, sew your own clothes, build your bed from scavenged lumber, build your house without power tools, and never eat anything out of season. Even folks who live in fairly old-fashioned ways depend on some things being transported many hundreds of miles.
So how green to be is a matter of degree -- awareness plus choice. If you do as much as you can as soon as you can, you'll gradually make greener choices. Almost everyone has to deal with their own financial limits, and sometimes that means a less-green option. But don't get stuck on the pebbles, it's the path's direction that matters most.
Living harmoniously is a green choice, too. Patience is a green choice. Yes, we can aggressively pursue socially greener choices, and we should. At the same time, it matters to have compassion for ourselves and others when we are making the best choices we can.
Everyone wants a healthier life and a healthier planet. Wanting is the easy part. The path to a healthier life and planet is as different for each of us as the difference among green leaves. There are probably 50 Shades of Green that will allow every person to transform in a more hopeful direction--greening gracefully, and steadily.