More Than a Color

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Part of my responsibility as an educator is to occasionally step out of my comfort zone, and learn more about the world. This year I signed up for a two week series of seminars on sustainability. I would learn how to inspire young citizens to care deeply for the Earth, while they learn about ways to protect and conserve its natural resources. I figured I'd at least come away with some tips on how to encourage them to recycle more at home. No more, no less. Just get the garbage in the right bin.

Now I confess that I have been quite skeptical of the whole "green" movement. Catch phrases have always been a secret peeve of mine, and hearing my favorite color used as a verb with lecture topics such as "greening your classroom" filled me with disdain. But something happened to me at that seminar. It's one of the things a teacher demands of others, but is never really prepared for when it happens to them. I learned.

It wasn't when we studied how to improve water quality or when I saw how to reduce toxins in the soil just by buying local organically grown foods. I wondered what had made me really start to listen. I know now what provided the necessary jolt to my laid back reality. It was a trip to the San Francisco waste transfer station and recycling center.

Big hole, rank smell, tons of crap.

Now, I knew that poisoning the environment was unacceptable. But I don't think I honestly believed that my individual contribution could really make a difference until I saw that hole. That disgusting but wonderful place convinced me. I don't want to be part of a legacy that trashes the Earth and leaves a mess for the next generation to try and clean up.


The environmental movement is not perfect. Just as one issue is resolved, another is raised. But isn't it better to know that just by eating a potato that was sustainably grown or buying recycled paper towels, we can assure that our children inherit a world that is just a bit better than the one we came into? I know it is for me.

So I'm going green. Well, light green, and I know exactly where our first field trip of the year is going to be.

With a Perspective, I'm Stephen Lavezzo.