On This Earth Day, It's Actually Easier To Be Green

Apr 21 2014, 11:16pm CDT | by

 EDITOR’S NOTE: Forbes has just published Curbing Cars: America’s Independence From The Auto Industry, an eBook investigating why a growing number of Americans are giving up their cars. Written by Forbes contributor and former New York Times Detroit bureau chief Micheline Maynard, this illuminating account of our changing automotive habits is available for download now. Here’s an excerpt looking at how environmentalism has become an every day event.
/>

Those of us who grew up watching Sesame Street sang along to Kermit the Frog’s lament, “It’s not that easy being green.” But for many Americans, it’s actually easier than ever to be green.

Sustainability has quietly become an every day event, less a statement than a way of life. That is something experts at Stanford University call “pro-environmental socialization.” In other words, if you are expected by your refuse collection system to separate your cans and bottles and your newspapers, you do it, without feeling you are making a social statement.

On the first earth day in 1970, it was a common sight for skies in industrial cities to be gray with pollution, and for a thin film of soot to cover cars and clothes hanging out to try. Litter flew across American highways, and cigarette butts were strewn on restroom floors.

By the time American millennials became aware of dirty air, smog was something they saw in pictures of Beijing and Shanghai. No one in a state with a recycling law would dream of throwing away a soda bottle; in Michigan, it yielded a 10 cent deposit.

People now regularly tote their own canvas shopping bags to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, as well as to local farmer’s markets. The statements that our parents’ generation made by being environmentally conscious is just part of the landscape for those born after 1980.

In the middle of all this, millennials are responsible for their own significant shift. A study by the advocacy group US PIRG found that Americans between 16 and 24 years of age reduced their driving by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. Granted, this federal highway data is a little old, but those years were not a time when much emphasis was placed on creating greener college campuses, aside from some recycling programs.

Now, however, 30 plus campuses are offering bike share programs. Colleges like the University of Dayton are offering free bikes to incoming freshmen if they do not bring a car to campus for two years. Campuses, like Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, are redesigning their landscapes to cut down on automobile use and promote the use of bikes, as well as walking.

It will be interesting to see the impact this will have on millennials as they get older. If this generation is discouraged from using automobiles when they’re in school, and taught it’s easier to be green, their behavior could carry over into adulthood. And that could affect the transportation choices they make, and demand, for years to come.

You can buy Curbing Cars: America’s Independence From The Auto Industry at Amazon and Apple now. On Wednesday, take part in a Twitter chat with Micheline Maynard at noon ET/9 am PT. Tweet questions to #AskForbes and follow @forbes.
/>

10 Cities Where Bicycles Rule The Streets

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Venezuela swaps guns for education
Caracas, Sep 30 (IANS/EFE) The Venezuelan government has initiated a voluntary arms exchange programme under which its citizens can surrender their firearms in return for work tools or a scholarship. The plan, which...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Amanda Bynes arrested for DUI
Los Angeles, Sep 30 (IANS) Actress Amanda Bynes was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) here, but was released on bail later. The 28-year-old star, who came out of a rehabilitation clinic late last year,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Asian Games: Indian men face Pakistan in hockey final
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) Two-time champions India will be facing arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan in the mouthwatering title-clash of the Asian Games men's hockey final slated for Thursday. While India edged...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Afghanistan, NATO sign agreement
Kabul, Sep 30 (IANS) The Afghanistan government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Tuesday signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) here. Afghan Presidential Advisor on National Security Mohammad...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Afghanistan, US sign Bilateral Security Agreement
Kabul, Sep 30 (IANS) Afghanistan and the US Tuesday signed the long-awaited Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to allow a limited number of troops to remain in Afghanistan after the drawdown later this year of the NATO...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Spain's Constitutional Court freezes Catalonian referendum plans
Madrid, Sep 30 (IANS/EFE) Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the referendum on Catalonian independence set for Nov 9 while justices study arguments from the Spanish government, which strongly opposes the poll,...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Asiad: Indian women's handball team ends 8th
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) The Indian women's handball team ended eighth at the Asian Games after losing their 7th-8th position playoff against Thailand 30-31 in a thrilling penalty shoot-out at the Seonhak Handball...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Gowda wins Asiad discus throw silver
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) Vikas Gowda won India's ninth medal from athletics at the 17th Asian Games claiming the silver in men's discus throw final at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium here Tuesday. Gowda, who won the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Asiad kabaddi: Indian men beat Pakistan to enter semis
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) The Indian men's kabaddi team brushed aside arch-rivals Pakistan 23-11 to top Group A and entered the semi-finals of the event at the 17th Asian Games here Tuesday. The Rakesh Kumar-led Indian...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Asian Games: Indian women win bronze in sailing
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) The Indian pair of Varsha Gautham and Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan finished second in the 12th and the final race to claim the bronze medal in the 29er - women's two person dinghy - at the 17th Asian...
Read more on Sport Balla