banana-leaf-2Green is the new black—hip, cool, sleek. To some it may be the new blue—depressing if you read about the continuing trends in global warming, pollution, and environmental damage our lifestyle are creating in the world. I guess to some it’s the new red—if you’re to believe the price tag that all of these newfangled green technologies will have on governments’ budgets and companies’ balance sheets.

I’ve been attending a lot of “green” events in Los Angeles (in my 2002 Altima, which is probably not the greenest vehicle), and I hear a lot of discussion, angst, optimism, and well, a lot of noise. I decided to start this blog in order to have a discussion about all we hear—what is green, what isn’t, and what we can do to minimize our effect on the environment. I also want to broaden the definition of green while slamming the door shut on “green” processes and products that well, aren’t necessarily green.

My interest in environmental technology dates back to the 1970s. Once in a while, my dad would pack my brother and me in the car and we’d drive to the DeAnza College Recycling Center. I was not an athlete and couldn’t throw a ball with aim or distance, but I sure loved throwing the brown, green, and clear jars and bottles into the huge blue bins and listening to them crash and shatter. Dad always insisted we clean out glass containers as we used them up and we’d keep them in the backyard until it was time for a DeAnza run.

Aluminum cans also were saved—we’d rinse them out, store them in bags, and crush them with this contraption my handy father made—a heavy weight connected to a pipe, painted light blue—and this was the extent of my weightlifting as a 9 year old—I’d struggle to lift this beast and crush the 7up, RC Cola (remember that brand?), and Shasta cans. My triceps’ foundation rest on that can crushing contraption!

I’m half Armenian—I never got that Armenian entrepreneurial gene, but the closest I did get that bug was when, from prodding from my parents, I realized that if I wanted to see the movies, I could go from door to door around the neighborhood and ask for everyone’s aluminum cans. I suppose even back then enough people were aware of recycling so that they had saved their cans and would give them to the skinny 9 year old with the Donny Osmond haircut—though I think most people probably thought I was a weird little kid who looked like one of the kids in the Arrested Development 70s flashbacks. Eventually we’d gather enough cans so that we could load up the station wagon (which probably got 10 miles to the gallon) and go to some recycling center in the industrial part of San Jose—they’d weigh the cans and I’d have enough money to see some movies at the Meridian Quad theaters.

I’m sure at some point I asked my dad what the point of all this was. I don’t remember my exact question, but I do remember him saying, “Don’t people think about where all this trash goes and that we don’t have enough space for all of it?”

I think my quasi-Armenian heritage, inherent in my father’s fiscally conservative approach to the family budget, also had an effect on how I live my life. I hate wasting food, I’ve started to garden (admittedly with Home Depot products, sorry), I reuse those 32-ounce yogurt containers, and like my grandmother, I keep attractive tins and jars for storing food and spices. When we’d visit Grandma in Fresno, we’d leave with bags of goodies, including chocolate chip cookies in huge Folgers coffee cans and sometimes homemade jam in old pickle jars. She was a genocide survivor, lived through the global depression of the 1930s, the war shortages of the following decade, and while running a little grocery store in the Calwa section of Fresno, lived simply and saved her money.

So it is with this introduction that I dedicate this blog to my father and grandmother. She lived her life sustainably without probably even thinking of the environment the way we do now; her son was aware of the effects our lifestyle has on the earth when it certainly wasn’t cool to do so. Gananche is the Armenian word for green; how they have lived is certainly possible at a macro level.

I hope to raise awareness of the environment and to let us live more sustainably. I want to be practical, not preachy; educational, not egotistical; and nurturing, not neurotic. “Being green” was once hippie-dippie and now it’s mainstream corporate--I think we can land somewhere in the middle. We can’t start driving biodiesel Mercedes and install solar panels on our roofs tomorrow. I’ve travelled to 50 or so countries and I certainly didn’t bike my way there and back, so yes, I have to watch my tone. But I look around me and I know as a people we can do better. I think we can be land somewhere in the middle, heal the earth, and yes, we are American—make some $$$ at the same time!

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.