We have finally come to the crossroad where patriotism and environmental responsibility intersect. As a new administration comes into power, a new environmental agenda is on the horizon. And it appears that a call for a renewed patriotic spirit, "a call to service," will include the addition of the color green to our glorious red, white and blue. Green isn't so fringe after all.
Over the past half-century, the policies and products created to make our lives easier, in many ways, have made things worse for our environment and our well-being. Although it has taken decades to fully appreciate the consequences of the industrial revolution and the weaknesses in our environmental policies, scientists, lawmakers and ordinary citizens now understand that we have put our planet in peril. As the baby boomers move towards retirement, their children and grandchildren are deeply concerned about the world they are inheriting.
Starting in elementary school and through the impressionable college years, this new generation grew up learning about how global warming and environmental pollution is threatening Mother Earth, our health, and our future. As the mantra of "change" sweeps across the country, a growing number of Americans are committed to reversing the damage to our environment and changing their own lifestyles.
Recognizing the need to reduce greenhouse gases, conserving our natural resources and developing renewable sources of energy, President Obama has pledged to take the necessary action to move the United States in a new direction and begin building a green economy.
These are admirable goals deserving urgent attention and our support. But we know that government alone can't solve all of our problems.
As environmentally conscious consumers, we can have enormous influence on the corporations we support and the buying choices we make. Living green and choosing to give our hard earned dollars to corporations that produce and provide eco-friendly products and services will drive industry, by necessity, to be more environmentally responsible and meet the market's demand for sustainable products.
Although you may not see these products in your local retailer today, in reality, companies are racing to claim the "green" seal of approval. From all natural clothing to eco-building materials, with just a simple mouse click you can find almost everything "green."
Each of us has a social responsibility and can make a difference as we strive for a greener, healthier lifestyle.
Consumers can choose to purchase organic foods, clothing, furnishings and other eco-friendly products.
Parents can protect their children's health by choosing toys, clothing, and cleaning products free of toxic chemicals, and providing healthy diets rich in organic, whole foods.
Teachers can make healthy living and environmental education an important part of the school curriculum, including the development of environmental clubs.
School systems can provide healthier lunches and switch to safer industrial cleaners.
Civic leaders can organize green projects for their local communities.
City developers and contractors can choose to use sustainable building materials.
Hospitals and medical facilities can also switch to non-toxic cleaning products and use eco-friendly materials whenever possible.
Religious leaders can inspire their congregation and remind them that the earth should be treasured and encourage members to get involved.
Researchers in government and industry can develop new sustainability technology.
Local, state and federal officials can enact laws and policies aimed at protecting the environment, reducing toxic exposures that threaten our children's health, and create green jobs.
Neighbors and friends can organize a clothes swapping party.
Each one of us has a responsibility to our children, our community and to society to make a positive contribution towards improving the world in which we live.
As we look forward to a new year filled with hopeful enthusiasm, we can all be a part of America's "green revolution" and fulfill our obligation to be good stewards for the next green generation.
More comprehensive tips on eco-shopping and healthy choices, including a list of recommendations, recipes and resources can be found in Deirdre Imus' new book, The Essential Green You! Easy Ways to Detox Your Diet, Your Body, and Your Life, volume three in the New York Times best-selling Green This! series.