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Lisa Miller

July 19, 2008

Lisa Miller: 'Green' is more than just a fad

Green is definitely in.

Turn on the TV news or open the local paper and you'll see stories on the latest climate-change issues, letters to the editor debating the merits of wind power, and ads for fuel-efficient cars.

Peruse a magazine rack and you'll find everything from in-depth analysis on which presidential candidate is the "greenest" to fluffy spreads on environmentally friendly cosmetics _ sandwiched, of course, between ads for eco-friendly products.

It seems everyone wants a piece of the green market; even Wal-Mart has begun offering reusable cloth shopping bags.

With inflation rising faster than it has in 26 years, people are trading in pickups and SUVs for more-fuel-efficient sedans, driving less, clipping coupons and starting gardens.

Meanwhile, the technological revolution marches on. We've got phones on our ears and iPods and PDAs in our pockets. We've grown accustomed to multitasking as a way of life, and to being constantly available, connected and plugged in.

Consider the irony of trying to save money on our ever-climbing gas and food bills so we can still afford cell phone plans and Internet service. For most middle-class American families, these have become as indispensable as cable TV and microwave ovens.

It is an interesting dichotomy: the sustainable-living movement vs. the information age; two potentially incompatible forces on a collision course. Nearly everything we do requires energy, yet we haven't quite figured out how to harness or create the renewable resources necessary to power our lives without trashing the planet.

Whether our efforts to "be green" really matter or are just a feel-good way to ease our collective guilty conscience remains to be seen. Can using cloth shopping bags and compact fluorescent light bulbs offset the carbon footprint of a half-hour commute in a full-size truck?

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Lisa Miller

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