Why count your carbon footprint? Why not take coffee in a paper cup? What does the triangle on the edge of any package say? This information can be shared with you by people who have changed their thinking from consumer to environmental. But those who have learned to interact with the outside world without harming it will also be able to share with you tips on developing an environmentally friendly mindset. Confused? Like many in the Russian-speaking world! Let’s understand together these concepts and the very essence of the respective views.
Difference between green and green thinking
Let’s start with the interpretation of concepts in dictionaries:
- Ecological (English ecological) – correlating in meaning with the noun “ecology” (a science dealing with the field of concepts and phenomena related to the environment), associated with it.
- Ecological (English harmless) – does not have a harmful effect on the environment, the living environment, meets environmental standards, harmless.
Based on this, it follows that a person with ecological thinking knows the laws of nature, understands its processes, and shows a thrifty attitude to all natural resources used. Those. man thinks about the environment. Meanwhile, sustainability is the absence of toxicity and control of one’s own actions in relation to others.
Ecological can still be a lesson, an action, a game, urban planning, safety. This is all that directly concerns the environment and human influence on it, as well as the study of their interaction.
Harmless materials and products are called environmentally friendly. This takes into account both the process of their creation (how many resources were spent, what is released during manufacture), and the process of use (exhaust gases, decomposition) and processing (is it possible, how laborious is it). Also, the attitude towards, for example, the participants of the event can be environmentally friendly (are there any pauses between sessions, is the environment comfortable, do they take into account their opinion). Those. in this concept there is more emphasis on real actions and the absence of their harm not only for nature, but also for other objects of our influence.
Another concept that is rare, but closely related to the ones we are discussing, is ecosophy (ecology + philosophy). This is one of the directions in modern ecological consciousness, considering the relationship of man to nature in the intimate-personal, ethical, aesthetic, religious aspects. This is a philosophy of ecological harmony or balance. Taking care of nature becomes taking care of oneself, within the framework of deep ecology, ways to merge with nature are offered: ritual forms of action, meditative exercises, awakening of “evolutionary memory”, “eco-breathing” exercises, etc. Another trend in ecosophy – personalistic ecology – is focused on the idea of cooperation with nature, managing nature, expanding its capabilities [SM Gardiner, A. Thompson, 2017].
It is logical that all these concepts are closely intertwined with each other. But we believe that ecological thinking is part of ecological thinking. One is not equal to the other. For example, a person can understand ecology as a science, but not adhere to the principle of harmlessness. Or take care of your influence on the environment, but have no idea about climate change [Yu. Safronov, 2020] .
Therefore, in this article we will talk about a broader concept – environmental friendliness, meaning both the attitude to nature and, in general, to the world around us (especially to people) and to ourselves [D. A. Gunina, 2018] .
Prerequisites for the development of green thinking
In the modern world, the number of people who develop their awareness in various issues is increasing every year. Ecology is no exception. Experts believe that globalization and the availability of information contribute to this, and there are also opinions that people deliberately pick up this or that idea due to the lack of another faith or ideology [M. Epstein, 1982].
But we can definitely say that the modern world is pushing people towards the development of environmentally friendly thinking.
It’s easy enough to follow the trend. Natural disasters from year to year frighten the population of the Earth and say that the planet is experiencing discomfort, but environmental problems were more likely to be in the attention of specialists than ordinary people. And after the famous speech by activist Greta Thunberg, search queries about climate change have increased fivefold. It has become important for people to monitor their own impact on the environment.
More and more opinion leaders and large manufacturers began to talk about this. At the moment, one of the points of the marketing strategies of world companies is the environmental friendliness of materials and products [T. Remneva, 2019] . Thanks to market mechanisms, scientific research, regulation of production and improvement of the environmental situation are implemented.
However, based on this trend, the general population is often deceived and manipulated due to poor knowledge about the environment and the impact on it (for example, selling paper bags under the guise of a more environmentally friendly product). Many educational and protective organizations have appeared in the world, but a healthy ecological environment, unfortunately, has not yet become a priority for the average person.
While the population understood the types of plastic and the lower harmfulness of certain materials, the Atlas of New Jobs predicted the emergence of new specialists, for example: an eco-recycler, a city farmer, an eco-analyst, an eco-architect, etc. Some of them have really begun to appear in companies or as independent units. This already speaks of ecological thinking not only as a fashionable trend, but also as a serious development strategy.
If specialists and the population took up the health of the planet more than five years ago, then the need for hygiene of relations became obvious no earlier than 2020. The number of appeals to psychologists for the sake of defending personal boundaries increased , and then was replaced by systematic visits to specialists for the purpose of self-preservation. The new reality has become so oppressive that it is impossible for an unprepared person to cope with it on their own. The result of classes and visits is not only increased attention to oneself, but also the purity of relationships with the outside world. Society has taken the path of broadcasting the value of mutual understanding and harmless communication.
However, modern man is surrounded not only by real people, everyone is increasingly influenced by the digital world. Bullying, manipulation and toxic comments on social networks, fake news spread through chat rooms on the one hand and complete impunity on the other. All this surrounds us and puts pressure on the emotional state.
The complete lack of environmental friendliness in digital relations speaks of the need for media hygiene, which is now expressed only in various restrictions on Internet platforms and mainly leads to transitions to closed venues [L. Munn, 2020]. However, it will no longer be possible to do without digital reality, so people need to think about the prevention of relationships in this world as well. It is the environmental friendliness of each individual person that can reduce the level of this problem and lead to effective communication even through anonymous comments.
The modern VUCA world , with all its ambiguity and speed of change, leads us to the need to lead an environmentally friendly life in order to have as little impact as possible on the environment around us and leave a smaller footprint in the lives of other people. This kind of thinking, on the one hand, speaks of increased responsibility for one’s own actions, on the other hand, of the desire to step back and relieve oneself of guilt. These are the consequences of historical events and the bygone way of life, but life dictates new rules.
Sustainability is closely related to holistic thinking, which allows a person to understand an object through its connection with other objects. To be separate, operationally independent means to be included in the whole, to be needed by it. A person is of interest and value to society when he introduces unique patterns of behavior into the whole [E. N. Knyazeva, 2015].
Whatever your attitude to this trend, it is worth accepting that sustainability teaches us to monitor the consequences of our life and calculate the future a few steps ahead. We must remain independent units with our own opinions and experiences, but remember that our every action affects the system of which we are a part.
Green Thinking Principles
What needs to be done to pass for a caring person and do less harm? Let’s start with the fact that an eco-friendly lifestyle is the maintenance of natural harmony, the desire not to disturb anything that is considered natural and natural. Man is accustomed to maximally subordinate his environment and control other people. However, adjusting everything and everyone for yourself is not the course of action that is inherent in an environmentally friendly person. Here are its principles:
- Love everything as it is, and do not try to change . The first and foremost principle is to accept and preserve the state of nature. Nature and people both existed without you and will continue to exist, you should not try to change them for your convenience. This will lead to tension in relations, and unnaturalness to cataclysms.
- Stay happy with available resources. This principle is the most contrary to the consumer society. Eco-friendly people believe that more is not better. It is important not to demand or expect another, but to be content with what is [A. Stubbings, 2009] . By the way, in connection with this point, scientists have created an index of happiness , according to which you can check your level and the level of the entire planet.
- Don’t overspend. In relation to nature, a person can use Zero Waste technology : Refuse (refuse), Reduce (reduce), Reuse (reuse), Recycle (recycle), Rot (compost). If we talk about relationships with people, then even here there is a certain “bank” in which you should not enter the category of debtors. Being exclusively a consumer can be nice, but not good for mutual respect.
- Return what was taken. In continuation of the previous principle, it is worth adding that “borrowed” must be returned and be ready, in turn, to “credit” the environment. To do this, it is necessary to restore what was spent, share the surplus, and offer your help. Such a “ping-pong game” will allow you to maintain a balance of “give-take” around you.
- Don’t be toxic. What is toxicity? This is poisonousness, which in the process of interaction makes the interlocutor feel uncomfortable. Those. this is a clear harm. To avoid this, do not give feedback or advice without asking, make caustic comments and put yourself above the other. However, sometimes toxicity can be beneficial for you, because. helps to let off steam. If you understand this, then you need to find other, more harmless tools to relieve tension [Yu. Glozman, 2018 ]. And for nature, you can take hazardous waste to special points and not use toxic materials.
- Clean up after yourself. If you couldn’t resist and left some kind of trace behind you, you need to be able to eliminate it – apologize in time, collect your garbage (and it would be better to hand it over for recycling) and correct the situation. For example, you can calculate your carbon footprint and start a climate diet . And in the matter of relationships, learn to admit your guilt and accept someone else’s point of view.
It is not for nothing that ecological and ecological thinking are so often confused and confused, because many of their principles are similar, although at first glance it is difficult to realize. However, this is natural, and the laws of relationships are similar everywhere – try to do the least harm, do not use it and take it for granted. Following them will bring more benefits to both parties in the long run. This is how the strategy of cooperation is implemented even in nature .
How to develop environmental friendliness in yourself?
Definitely, all the principles are quite difficult to accept and implement in your life at the same time. Sometimes this requires not only a change in behavior and the development of new habits, but also a transformation of the worldview. Only the most conscious person can be ready for this.
But we would like to start not with an algorithm for restructuring our views, but with another list of steps that is initially important for a person who develops environmentally friendly thinking. We are talking about non-violent communication , which must be able to maintain both with any interlocutor and with the environment.
So, the actions to conduct non-violent communication:
- Observing the situation and collecting dry facts. It is necessary to try to avoid accusations and conjectures.
- Identification of feelings arising from the situation. For example, for a simpler formulation, you can use the circle of emotions .
- Determine the needs to be met. It is worth formulating as clearly as possible what you lack and for what needs.
- Expressing a clear request that will make life better. Do not beat around the bush, express a direct sentence that will make a change in the situation and improve your emotional state [M. Rosenberg, 2018] .
We are confident that this approach to relationships will help to avoid resentment and, as a result, toxicity in communication. And it can also be useful for formulating a clear request, which will allow you to reduce consumption or find other ways to cover needs.
But besides having sufficient global skill, there are a number of other smaller green steps you can try that can help you with this daunting task:
- Be open and flexible . Before you take any action, you must accept the need for change and believe in the idea itself. As we have already said, the development of new thinking requires many movements in the usual way of life. You need to be prepared for this, as well as for the fact that everything will not work out right away, and everyone will need to look for their own suitable development option.
- Take simple steps. Surprisingly, the step itself is its clear example. Starting small and uncomplicated, gradually we can come to wider results than if we immediately took on large-scale actions. This is how our bodies get used to it. Turn off the lights in empty rooms, walk more often, or learn not to take the words of strangers to heart. It would seem, a trifle! But if everyone makes at least it, then the world will already become much more environmentally friendly.
- Control your speech. It so happened that our mentality and historical development have made us quite talkative and attentive to other people. But not to their feelings. If we feel our expertise in any issue, then surely we will not be able to refrain from giving advice. For example, people who are burning with the idea of ”green thinking” speak very toxicly towards those who do not adhere to it. Challenge yourself and refrain from making some comments.
- Take care of those around you. Offer your help and create the most comfortable conditions for them. The main thing is not to forget about your own comfort and act only on the basis of a request, without imposing your services.
- Support Slow-fashion. This is a trend in fashion that takes into account the extension of the life of clothing and household items, including minimizing the harmful impact on the environment. Choose versatile products that you can use for as long as possible. Or come up with options for how to give them a “second life”. In relationships, build long-term relationships with maximum benefit for all parties.
- Practice with mentors. To feel the importance, you need to become involved, but this can be difficult to do on your own at first. As part of an ecological lifestyle, you can try to take part in projects (attend classes, plant trees, organize community work days) or learn to control your consumption under the supervision of masters. And in relationships, you can use the services of coaches or arrange with friends for mutual control and feedback.
The main thing to remember is stability in the worldview and consistency in actions. You can’t succeed in what you don’t believe in and what you do when you have to. Accept the importance of green thinking and build small steps into your schedule to develop it .
The interesting thing is that you can start with ecology or relationships and then gradually work your way into the rest of the ecology. They are interdependent with each other, and you, one way or another, will feel a change in the relationship after you begin to consume or recycle more consciously.
Our world is rather not a world of things, but a world of actions. The more choice each of us has, the more responsibility we have for our choices, made in partnership with the world and others.
A person who has learned to appreciate and care for his surroundings does not only give. In such a person, thanks to external bestowal, internal environmental friendliness is formed: the balance of the relationship between the personality and its thoughts, behavior, abilities, values and beliefs. Thus, a person achieves maximum awareness, because. he changes his whole way of thinking , learns to find a balance between himself and the outside world, builds healthy relationships, enjoys intangible things and independently builds confidence in his future.