Excuse the occasional aluminum in my trash

Brenna McNamara

Brenna McNamara

When I’m out and have a can in my hand and there’s a recycling bin in site, there is no doubt that I’ll recycle. On the other hand, when I’m smoking a cigarette outside a concert venue and there is no ashtray or trash can nearby, I’ll stomp it out under my foot.

The movement toward environmentalism can be complex and frustrating at times, not only because sometimes there is no means to contribute but also because there are extremists imposing an unnecessary view on the “average do-gooder.”

I know I am doing my part to make the environment better; however, I feel the green movement extremists make it frustrating and difficult because some people are judged for “not doing enough.” These people should be both encouraged to do more and recognized for what part they already play.

Don’t get me wrong: Our society needs extremists to inspire change in people, but I feel some of the tactics are wrong – especially in a college environment.

Doing the “right thing” environmentally even when no one is looking can be hard when the pretentious extremists don’t see the small things, such as taking the recycling bin to the curb. Instead, they only see the beer can accidentally thrown in an ordinary wastebasket at a party. Too many times, this average do-gooder is automatically viewed as a careless, typical college kid.

I realize in light of many fad movements, the green fad is beautiful (and I hope not a fad at all). But with all fad movements come people who act out of desire to perpetuate an image rather than to truly help. And it is these people who make the average folks feel like their little bit is not enough.

The desire to instill good values in a person is fine, but harsh judgment that comes into play when one slips up is far from supportive.

Perhaps Kent State students can sometimes do more than slip up. Take, for instance, University Street, where recycling is rare. After weekends of partying, trash piles up, but recycling is too expensive. After talking to some University Street residents and former residents who are somewhat environmentally friendly, I can understand their frustration. But I also get a feeling of defensiveness. I suggested they could take the cans somewhere else, even to my house just two blocks away, to eliminate costs. The response? “I know, but don’t you think we’ve thought of that before?”

For a second, hold the obvious next question – “Well, why don’t you?”

So many of the greeners have harsh resentment toward the residents of University Street. Criticism is warranted, but the common pretentious misperception that University Street is full of ignorant frat boys is unwarranted. There is a sociological theory that describes how being labeled does nothing but perpetuate the label, as people being labeled begin to identify and believe the indictment of others.

In order to progress the green movement, judgment and finger-pointing need to be reduced. Extreme green advocates can be cliquey and pompous, quickly dismissing those who are not established as part of the movement. This gives no incentive to those who try to do what they can, as little as it may be.

The ideas of the green movement are legitimate and much-needed. The people who truly want to change environmental ignorance must be willing to accept those who are not so well-informed and be aware people are making small moves toward progress. The green movement has no room for pretentiousness and cliques if improvements among the general population are expected to be adopted. Similarly, people who receive advice and help from these advocates must accept it without defense.

Clearly, there are other reasons for the complexity and misdirection of the green movement; however, in a college environment, particularly at Kent State, I see this nose-in-the-air attitude as one of the main hindrances of progress.

Brenna McNamara is a junior philosophy major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].