“How Green Can You Go?” is a friendly DuPage challenge!


By Erika Harris on 31 August, 2015.

My mom was born in 1960 and remembers when being “green” was a foreign concept to people now only well known by the few remaining hippies of her time. She never ceased to educate us on the knowledge she had and it became a common mentality for my siblings and me. I was homeschooled until 3rd grade, and I distinctly remember being at a friend’s house and turning off the water for them when they weren’t using it to do the dishes and timidly lectured them about conservation.

I think back on when An Inconvenient Truth came out, and how it seemed to set my world on fire. The problem was real!  We environmental advocates were no longer invisible fairies! HOORAY! That was back in 2006. From then on, the issues of global warming began tumbling out of the mouth of the media. It became a hot topic for television and more documentaries. And now it’s 2015. I like to believe enough people know about the devastation and I’m excited to be a part of the spark that’s growing. But how can we turn that spark into a raging fire? The movement to prepare for these crises continues to grow, but it still feels to me like we are lacking momentum.

Why aren’t more people joining the movement in a meaningful way?

              1. Because the media is failing us.

On the positive side, the media generally highlights issues we wouldn’t have been aware of to begin with. But sometimes it focuses on problems too much. We can only watch so much devastation on this planet before we start to feel helpless. And therein lies the problem. People feel helpless!

Cartoon strip that shows a man at desk saying, "yes I know the icecaps are melting but what the hell am I supposed to do about it?"

Is the media known for giving solutions? Unfortunately, in this sensationalist world, the answer is no. In the minds of most of the public, if no solution is reported, no solution exists- and that’s problematic!

        2.  Because we are too comfortable.

Cartoon strip that says, "I agree there are some terrible terrible problems in the world but those icecaps aren't melting beneath my feet. It's sad, but hey, I've got work in the morning. What's on netflix?"

In other words, the problems in the world are too out of reach for us to truly understand their impact. As long as we’re safe, it’s hard to find a motivation to take action. Since the fifties, we’ve grown accustomed to convenience: throwing away tv dinners, drinking soda like it’s water, and tidying up by throwing all our unwanted garbage into those nifty little bin bags.

Woman with kids saying, "after 50 years of this lifestyle you're telling me I have to recycle and compost my food scraps and use my real silverware instead of those plastic barbie forks at this bratty kid's birthday party?! Not a chance!"

I get it. It makes sense as to why we haven’t seen much change. We can’t force people to change their lifestyle if they don’t want to.


What DOES matter is if I try to help.

What DOES matter is if I contribute my voice.

I’m at the point where I don’t feel like I have time to count on others to create the necessary change for me.

I have to be the change (you’d think after all those facebook posts with that quote on it, I’d get it by now).

So there you have it. No matter how long it takes, no matter if I fail and fail again, I will take action and change what I can. I only have control over what I do and don’t do. The movement to protect humanity from global warming is something that I need to actively engage in.

How do we motivate people to join the movement in a meaningful way?

We only have control over what we do or don’t do, and preventing climate catastrophe by fundamentally changing how the world works is something that we really need to do.

That brings me to my first article of an ongoing project series I’m going to write in a cross-contribution agreement between my organization, whatsgoood.org, and Sustain DuPage. This series will be called, “How Green Can You Go?”

There’s nothing fancy about this project. It’s more of a personal aptitude test! Here is the gist of it: I’m going to challenge myself to help a business, house of worship, school, friend, family member, or anyone interested- to pursue an additional “green” project in their lives. By picking one group or individual to focus on, we can personably encourage and assist in developing an entirely new lifestyle practice that’s manageable for all!

Once I’ve picked whom I will be working with, I will help them to carry out the project by researching, encouraging, or helping with the project myself. This project is great because it can challenge everyone, even those who are already engaged in environmental advocacy. I will be keeping you all up-to-date on my progress, and encourage you to join me! Pick someone and green them up a little more, then write an article about it for Sustain DuPage!

Sending my love to all the Sustain DuPagers out there. 

Stay tuned!


 Sustain DuPage can’t operate without your support. Find out here all the ways you can involve yourself!

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