It's Not Easy Being Green

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It's not easy being an environmentalist, especially a young one. In high school it was difficult to convince classmates that their environment was not just forests and mountains far away from Alameda, but that it was everything around them.

College I thought would be different. I hoped the tree-hugger jokes would decrease, maybe the rude comments would stop all together, and perhaps people would even willingly recycle. But sadly my expectations were completely wrong.

When I got to school at the University of Chicago, I immediately got involved with climate activism on campus. It didn't take long before my new friends started making casual jokes about my environmental tendencies.

But this was nothing compared to the next wave of confrontation coming my way. I created a Facebook event for a national action. College students were making paper pinwheels and planting them on their campuses to attract local politicians' attention to green energy. Then the pinwheels would be shipped to Washington, D.C.

I got a wave of resistance almost immediately after promoting the pinwheels event. Multiple students said it would lead to a huge waste of paper. Others argued it was dumb to send the pinwheels to D.C., because shipping uses jet fuel. And on top of those arguments, one fellow student got personal, calling us hypocritical. I tried to explain that environmentalists have to operate within the society they are trying to change, but it was useless.


Should all environmentalists kill themselves so they won't waste any resources on their own lives? Should we sit in the dark and eat gruel from trashcans? Absolutely not. None of this changes anything about the way our world works, and environmentalists need to subsist on a planet that we are trying make subsist for itself.

I expected college to be a place where passionate like-minded people come together to create change, and while I've found some of that, it's mostly proving to be a place where my beliefs will be tested.

With a Perspective, I'm Caitlin Grey.