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Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.

Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.

These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.

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June 7, 2009

How Green are you?

Green and "green-washing" are becoming mainstream since Gas prices spiked last year.  I have been saying for years that the best thing that could happen for our planet is for gas prices to spike.  It would lead to smaller cars (it did) and would make people listen more to the cry of the earth (it did) and help them to take more seriously their impact on the earth (it did). 

These responses were mostly in response to their shrinking wallet, but most change comes about because the cost of continuing to do something becomes to expensive to be sustainable.  In a consumer culture, "too much to be sustainable" equals not enough $ to keep doing it.  It reaches the "care for the earth because our way of life can't be sustained" through financial means and that is the only way we are going to bring about lasting change in our society.

Now a bad, very bad, effect of less spending is a loss of jobs.  I'm not sure how to handle that and I feel for those who are without jobs.  I can not relate and it scares me that I could be in that group.  We need a safety net to help those that are unemployed through that time and into new jobs, but that's not the topic of this post - maybe another one.

What really strikes me this year is how quickly we have turned away from those true changes in lifestyle, energy consumption and back to our former ways - I see more big cars back on the roads.

But what bothers me even more is the "green-washing" that has accelerated.  It is clear that if you can tout that your product is "green" it will sell more.

I was walking around "First Friday" in downtown KC last night.  If you haven't been, you should go.  It's basically open art gallery night with some fun people wandering the streets.  A real community feel right downtown.

As I was, I noticed "Eco-Water" being consumed by what looked similar to milk cartons our kids drink out of in school.  Single use, waxed paper boxes with water in them.  First off, of course water is "eco" water - it is in it's DNA!  But more alarming to me is that the box, though it was unique packaging and marketing because it clearly looked different, was less environmentally friendly that the plastic one use bottles that I try hard to avoid using!  You can't effectively recycle waxed paper - it gets thrown into a landfill and decomposes just as slowly as the other stuff in the pile.  To make things worse, if you did try to recycle it, it had a handy plastic cap on the side which would need to be removed and recycled separately.

OK, maybe some very eco-conscious people would take the time to do this, but they are probably drinking out of reusable Nalgenes or other bottles anyway!

So how can we market true environmentally friendly productsin a way that the mass population will utilize (just like making things economically affordable, eco-solutions need to be "easy" to do for most people or they won't be sustained).  Also, how do people with busy lives (all of us) who are not significantly eco-consious enough to spend the time in research to find the things that are truly "green" and those that are "green-washed"?

Not sure I have an answer, but I'd love to hear some.  It's an issue that pops up alot as I walk around and observe daily life around town.

Categories: Religion