"The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living"

So said Socrates at his heresy trial, right before drinking the hemlock, and, while he may not have had green living and sustainability in mind, I think it's an apt philosophy for life the 21st century.

2008-08-01-socratesstatuephoto.jpgPhoto credit: gds @ flickr

The whole idea is sort of a twist on the old "Do as I say, not as I do" adage that our parents used to tell us; instead, you tell yourself the same thing. Basically, it's a matter of matching up your actions to your ideals and ethics. We all like to say that we care about the environment, the planet, etc., but do we have the courage to make our everyday actions follow suit? Sure, you can say you're against bottled water or working against global warming, but, when it comes down to it, do you have the courage to change your life?

Various sources and sites are out there to ease this transition -- Etheco uses their own ranking system to determine the products that have the best combined environmental, human rights and social justice scores; LiteGreen shows you ethical options from fashion to food to toys to special treats; heck, even TreeHugger and Planet Green are full of tips for taking steps in a greener direction -- but you can sit around reading websites all day and not change a damn thing, right?

Photo credit: net_efekt @ flickr

So this is really about following the Socratic quote and examining your life. That's not to say you have to be perfect right away, but it does mean that it's important to turn the lens we use to filter the world inward, and asking ourselves the same (or similar) questions we ask corporations and politicians.

At the heart of it, this idea is really about looking a little more closely at your green living choices, and making sure you're okay with them. If you're concerned about the negative impacts of global climate change, for example, but still taking multiple airplane trips a year, commuting alone by car, or any other number of activities that spew carbon dioxide unchecked into the atmosphere, maybe it's time to think a bit harder about those decisions.

I'm not trying to shame anyone into changing their lives, but I do think it's important that we each take the opportunity to examine ourselves to see how closely our ideals and behaviors meet up. In the end, I think it's possible for each of us to say, "I live with a clear conscience and haven't had to give up a single thing I need to live this life."

I'm almost there, and getting closer every day. What about you?