Thursday, May 31, 2012

A message from Jin

Writing is much about silence and reading as it is about pontificating. I take my silence now but perhaps tomorrow I will have something better to say.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sustainable Language - by Lauren Campbell

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to participate in a conference discussing social entrepreneurship. It was titled CHANGING THE WORLD THROGH SOCIAL ENTREPRENERUSHIP. Social entrepreneurship (SE) has been around for some decades; however, it has recently began to pick up steam.

There were three individuals on the panels I wanted to listen to about SE; they were there to discuss their expertise on the topic. They stated how much money each of their businesses brought in each year, what awards the company and what they personally have received. They then discussed the modern trends of Social Entrepreneurship. It was ironic listening to them discuss what they have done to help with the SE initiative in their own areas….as they held their Coach purses and wore their Armani suits.

The word of the day that day was “sustainability.” As I listened to each of these individuals talk I began to realize that the word sustainability has a very high perceived market value and with every increase in the perceived market value, the actual market value of ‘sustainability’ decreases.

It was while I was sitting there, disappointed that I had wasted my time with the particular discussion, I realized that ‘sustainability’ has turned into a wash. The discourse around the sustainability initiative is now being driven by a perceived positive impact -- rarely actual incentives and results. Marketers now use the term loosely to get their product sold, even if their product is not ‘sustainable.’ This infuriated me. How can we make a difference if the language we use to help our planet is being sold out to large companies to make a profit? We can’t even keep our vocabulary…it too has been bought and sold many times over.

I then came across this video discussing the lexicon of sustainability and how it is being abused in the food industry. Why did this surprise me? It shouldn't have. The discussion in the video around the use of words and labels on products was very intriguing and inspiring to say the least. 

How are we, as consumers, supposed to know what to buy if the advertisers are allowed to mislabel their products? Or allowed to bend the truth for more sales and profits on their end. My husband, Jin, and I have both strived to be responsible consumers. We want to support the organic movement as well as humane animal treatment in the food industry. We cut back our animal intake for those exact purposes; willing to pay 4 dollars for a carton of eggs, believing that we are supporting a humane animal industry. This also meant cutting down our egg intake so that we could afford to support such beliefs; after watching the video from above, I realized it is much more complex than just cutting back and spending more.  

My husband fully believes that a conversation can change the world. I believe this too. However, when big corporations come and take our lexicon, our vocabulary, and use them as a marketing scheme, devaluing the terms, what are we left with?  Language is an ever evolving socio-cultural advantage.  Language has been used to change human history and will continue to do so. The idea that our language shapes the way we think and act is not new, but I think that it has lost its relatedness to our actions. We do not understand that our words can be turned around and betrayed by an advertising industry. We forget that words are a force to be reckoned with and that the green initiative began with such force, with such words.

We must keep our words, our vocabulary. We must not allow the large corporations to manipulate our lexicon so that they can make more money to line their pockets. Language is a very important aspect of the human condition and we are responsible for how it is used. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen by Lauren Kong

Organic food is all the buzz these days. Everyone talks about whether or not to eat organic. Is it really that more beneficial? Can they afford it?

Food is a necessity. We require energy to fuel our body and our mind. This is a fact. But there are many missing facts when it comes to eating healthy in our country. Some claim that red meat causes cancer andheart disease, so we’re supposed to eat more poultry and fish. But your poultry is pumped full of antibiotics, hormones, and other remnants of dead poultry. Fish has one of the highest carbon foot prints of all food. The packaging required, the chemicals used to keep these meats appearing fresh, and the transport required to deliver it around the globe make it extremely petro-chemically dependent.

Americans have a cultural, social, and psychological dependency on meat.  We think we deserve to have meat three times a day, every day. Buying organic at the supermarket, meat or vegetables, typically means spending 2 to 4 times more on an item than if it is not organic and this hits the pocketbook hard.

This tells something about the organic industry demographic economically and financially. The label that comes with being able to eat organically (healthier) is turning into a form of privilege and power; it surprises me that this hasn’t been brought to public attention. It also surprises me that those in power and with privilege do not do more to help those without access to organic and healthy eating. Our ability to choose a healthier option and to eat a pesticide free apple should be the rule, not the exception.

Power and privilege is played out in our every day lives, we just don’t always recognize it; access to organic food is a great example. There are many myths surrounding organic food and these myths allow for the power and privilege to continue. Misinformation and lack of knowledge are keys to keeping the underprivileged, under. In order to overcome this, discourse must take place and people must be educated and informed on the topic. The more we know, the more we are capable.

I recently learned of the clean fifteen and dirty dozen. It’s a list that states the fifteen cleanest produce and the twelve dirtiest. So if you wanted to purchase some organic produce and some non-organic, this will give you a good start.

I also saw this video that has a lot of basic information about organic and local food. I found it very informational.

I think that by sharing information with one another and starting a conversation about the organic market we can make healthy options the norm for everyone. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life belongs to US. - by Lauren Campbell Kong

 Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
                  -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Green Elephant is undergoing a change. I, Lauren Campbell Kong, am taking over the primary writing responsibilities for TGE. My husband Jin will be taking a break for the summer to pursuit his career and his personal readings and writings; in the mean time, I will keep the blog going.

The Green Elephant has been a wonderful experience for Jin. He has grown as a writer, learned how to write for an audience, and has shared his views on the environment, sustainability, veteran issues, China, among other things. He has learned so much and has had the opportunity to share with others what he has learned. This is what I hope to accomplish with taking over the GE. I hope to share with the world my interests, my passions, and my dreams; I hope to learn and grow as a writer and in the process give something back to the ever-attentive blog readers out there.

So with this post I want to introduce myself. My writing style is much different than Jin’s and my topic interests are also different, albeit we both love the environment and sustainability. I hope to bring new topics to the blog, topics that Jin does not really have experience in. I want to explore social issues, including women’s rights, as well as environmental and cultural issues. The topics will most often revolve around the environment, that is where my passion resides; however, I tend to take a more psychological approach, which is my training and background.

Finally, I ask for patience from all of you out there. This blog is a process, as it was for my husband, it will be for me as well. I hope that all of you stick it out with us as we make this change to The Green Elephant and I hope that my passion for life, love, and laughter can bring you some freshness to your reading.

After all, it is not about the end product, but about the journey of getting there….

So, please sit back and enjoy the ride.