Three shades of green

Someone mentioned to me that there are three different shades of green when it comes to environmentalists. Can you elaborate on what those shades stand for?

I’m above labeling subgroups of society. Confining the environmental movement into three, color-coded categories is so upper-middle-class, politically moderate and academic of you. I don’t even think about the color green when I watch my solar-powered garage door close in the rearview of my hybrid every morning. I’m too busy trying not to spill my locally produced, 100 percent organic wheatgrass shot with a side order of NPR Morning Edition on my recycled, organic hemp pants. So it really irked me the other day when a co-worker called me “light green.” How dare he accuse me of being the shade of green that embraces the environmental movement primarily for its consumer values? I am a complex human being. I write poetry. I should have slapped him upside the head with my canvas tote!

But I didn’t. Instead, I defended myself, thrusting my finger in said co-worker’s face and telling him all about my past of “dark green” radical action for the cause. Like when I went on a hunger strike in a pine tree in a forest faced with clear cuts. Or the month I chose not to bathe to measure how much water I could save. Or the time I retreated to the woods to live off nuts and berries in total defiance of consumer culture. I had been there two whole weeks before the helicopter had to airlift me out when I got food poisoning. I don’t really talk about those days, because I don’t like to brag. But my scrapbook is sitting on my coffee table. It’s the blue book. The one in the center of the table. You can look at it if you really want to. Did I mention that my scrapbook documenting my years of radical action is sitting on my coffee table?!

What were we talking about again? Ah yes, my co-worker. He prefers to label himself with the third shade of green: “bright green.” This variation on the hue acknowledges that society needs a radical political and economic change to become sustainable. But then they have to go and get all Brady Bunch on the cause, presenting solutions like sustainable design, technology and social innovation. It’s like they won’t even give you the time of day when you start quoting Al Gore, because they’re all post-An Inconvenient Truth and totally focused on finding ways to make sustainability convenient and accessible for the rest of society so that everyone will start to live greener lives and the future will look so … bright. And green.

Doesn’t anyone want to hear my apocalyptic theories anymore?