Can I still call myself Green?

Surfers Against Sewage campaign

I have been having a bit of a political identity crisis recently, as I question whether I can still call myself green.

I think it’s possible to say that you are ‘life-long Labour’ or ‘a committed Conservative’ even if you’re never been an activist and all you’ve ever done is vote for that party. But I’m not so sure that the same applies to Greens. I think there is an expectation that being Green means putting the politics into practice.

Five years ago I was Green with a capital G. A fully paid up member of the Scottish Party, an occasional candidate, present at every committee meeting. I knew exactly what ‘being Green’ meant. It meant knocking on doors, delivering newsletters, carrying the end of a banner at a demo, street stalls in the rain, boycotting Nestle, working for an environmental charity, wearing anti-war and pro-renewable badges on my jacket…  Being Green was about trying to make a better world possible.

That world that I used to campaign for is still the world I would like to live in.; one of justice and equality, where we use and share resources in a sustainable way. But if I’m not doing anything active to advance that vision, or trying to persuade other people that it’s possible, am I still entitled to call myself green?

I still vote Green, of course. Whenever there’s an election on – be it local council, parliamentary or European – you’ll find me down at the ballot box, faithfully sticking my X beside a Green candidate.

But beyond that, it’s starting to feel like all the green gestures I make are somewhat tokenistic. I sign the petitions that happen to fall into my inbox. I buy organic, fairtrade and local produce where I can. We use Ecover. We recycle. We don’t have a car… It’s all good stuff, but it’s not really world-changing.

Sometimes I still get Christmas cards from university era friends that are addressed to ‘Comrade’, which makes me laugh. And there are one or two old photos of me on my Facebook page; bellowing something heartfelt into a loudhailer, or sitting on a debate platform looking earnest. But most of that ‘me’ is gone.

I’m wondering if the ‘me’ that’s left is allowed to call herself Green? Or even green?

11 responses

  1. I think you still can, ultimately it’s the small changes which we make in our own lives which add up to make the differences. We share very similar values (though I confess to being a bit of a motor head), I studied environmental sciences at university and went on to work in environmental education. My first environment job was working for a coal fired power station, I recall many debates with the managers and they firmly believed the biggest changes was by getting people to change their behaviour and I actually think they might be right.

    • Oooh, that’s interesting. We’ll definitely have to have a blether about this sometime. I’ve always argued that behavioural change is important but it can only happen after more major structural change – be that at local, national or global level.

  2. What could be more Green than brining your son up to respect others, the environment and believe that equality and social justice are possible? You get to influence a whole person, and although I’m not doing down the hard work of all the activists, but being a Mum is way more influential than leafleting. You also never know the small ways in which you quietly live your life will be noticed by others… Just because your not doing the high impact, high visibility stuff, doesn’t mean your not changing the world, in your own way.

    • Favourite comment ever, thank you for making me feel good! There may be an entire blog post in this, about the complementary roles of parents and children in educating each other…

  3. I don’t know much about being green, I certainly never grew up with a desire to be so. I think I am becoming more so as I get older and learn about my responsiblity to the world we live in.

    What I would say is that you are an influencer, through your blog you write poignant articles and make people think and influence their choices and that is extremely powerful. You are still doing a lot for the world you live in, just in a different way perhaps.

    Mich x

    • Thanks Mich. I like the word ‘responsibility’ that you use. When I worked for a coalition on climate change we were really thrilled to get a lot of churches on board with our work, and it was through that concept of stewardship that we got them interested. The fact is that we do have a responsibility, both to our children and grandchildren, and to those who are already suffering as a result of things like human induced climate change. Like everything though, you can’t help wondering if the small effort you are making is really enough xx

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  5. I think you can still call yourself ‘green’. You practice it in the way your live your life and through your blog and, as others have said, in bringing up your son. They may seem little things but little things count I think and if we all did them, what sort of change could we create in the world. As for me, I try and do my bit too (recycling, growing my own, fairtrade etc) and what I’ve noticed is that changing my behaviour has become a habit, a good habit I think, but sometimes I forget that it contributes to saving the worlds resources. Deb

    • I suppose the next stage is asking how we make the bigger and more difficult changes part of our habits too? No easy answers there! Sounds like you are doing a lot of good stuff – I am envious of your ability to grow your own! Even when we had a garden I was never the most green fingered…! xx

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