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

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...
 
 
Volkswagen AG New Coverage: Trefis Price Estimate at $51
Volkswagen AG is the second largest automaker in the world behind Toyota and slightly ahead of GM, selling 9.72 million vehicles globally in 2013. Established in 1937, Volkswagen AG, along with its 340 subsidiary...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Shuttlers Srikanth, Gurusaidutt reach Round of 32
Glasgow, July 30 (IANS) Indian shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt won their respective matches to enter the men's singles Round of 32 at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday. Rising star Srikanth had an...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India in trouble as England bowlers heap more misery (Roundup)
Southampton, July 29 (IANS) India found themselves in deep trouble, trailing England by 246 runs but but more importantly needing 47 more runs to avoid a follow-on with only two wickets in hand at the end of day three...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian shooters bring home five more medals (Shooting Roundup)
Glasgow, July 30 (IANS) Trigger happy Indian shooters had a gala outing at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday as they brought in five more medals -- two silvers and three bronzes -- from their respective events with...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Onerous twin task for India (Analysis)
Southampton, July 29 (IANS/RAY) India have an onerous twin task of having to compile runs and consume time to save the 3rd Test match to maintain their 1-0 lead in the five-Test series. England's first innings total...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Scoreboard: India vs England, day 3, third Test
Southampton, July 29 (IANS) The following is the day three scoreboard of the third cricket Test between India and England at The Rose Bowl here Tuesday: England (first innings 569/7 declared) India (first innings,...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
100 more killed in Gaza as truce offer hangs in balance (Roundup)
Gaza, July 29 (IANS/EFE) At least 100 Palestinians were killed Tuesday in the heaviest air and ground bombardment by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip since the launch of Operation Protective Edge July 8 as an...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
India 323/8 in first innings at stumps
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) India were 323 for eight in the first innings at stumps on the third day of the third cricket Test against England at The Rose Bowl here Tuesday. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was batting...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian medal winners at 2014 Commonwealth Games
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) The following is the list of Indian medal winners at the 20th Commonwealth Games: Gold Sanjita Khumukchan: women's 48 kg weightlifting Sukhen Dey: men's 56 kg weightlifting Abhinav Bindra: men'...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian wrestler Tomar settles for silver
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Indian wrestler Rajeev Tomar lost the men's 125kg freestyle final match to Canada's Korey Jarvis and settled for the silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the Scottish Exhibition and...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ashwini fails to enter women's 400m hurdles finals
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Indian athlete Ashwini Akkunji failed to qualify for the women's 400 metres hurdles final at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday. The 26-year-old Ashwini could only manage to finish fifth out...
Read more on Sport Balla