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

Essar Capital sells telecom business in Kenya for $120 million
Nairobi, Aug 30 (IANS) Essar Capital Saturday announced the signing of binding agreements with Safaricom and Airtel for the sale of its telecom business in Kenya for $120 million. The firm, through its portfolio...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Ukrainian cargo plane crashes in Algeria
Algiers, Aug 30 (IANS) A Ukrainian cargo plane crashed Saturday in Algeria's Tamenrasset province. According to rescue officials, the crash occurred at 1.40 p.m and no survivors were found, Xinhua reported. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Mysteries of space dust unlocked
New York, Aug 30 (IANS) A new analysis of space dust has revealed that the cosmic particles, wich are likely to have originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Suri Cruise reunited with lost dog
Los Angeles, Aug 30 (IANS) Actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri has reportedly been reunited with her lost dog Honey. The eight-year-old was devastated when her new Chihuahua named Honey disappeared in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Global road mapping to balance development and conservation
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) Did you know that over 25 million km of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, encircling the earth more than 600 times? Keeping the above fact in mind, a study has created a global map...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Blind leaves Ajax for Man-U
The Hague, Aug 30 (IANS) Ajax and Manchester United have reached a deal for the transfer of Daley Blind to the latter, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and national broadcaster NOS reported Saturday. According to the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Tough away games for Barca, Real Madrid
Madrid, Aug 30 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both face testing away trips as they play their second game of the Spanish Primera Liga season Sunday. Barcelona, fresh from a comfortable and moral boosting 3-0 win...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India, Japan sign Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement
Kyoto, Aug 30 (IANS) India and Japan Saturday signed the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement, an official said. The partnership, which focuses on how to preserve heritage while building smart cities, was signed...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Gremio bans fans over racist abuse
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Brazilian club Gremio have banned five fans from attending home matches after their involvement in the latest racism scandal to hit South American football. Santos goalkeeper Aranha was...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pato attracts Galatasaray interest
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato could be headed to Galatasaray before Monday's European transfer deadline. But the Turkish club must meet the 24-year-old's 15 million euro release...
Read more on Sport Balla