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The Wearing of the Green

What color should be seen
Where our fathers’ homes have been
But their own immortal Green?
Author Unknown

Regardless of how the term “green” strikes you in these days when both green washing and green bashing are popular, it seems both pro- and con- green folk set aside their differences and embrace the color around March 17.

According to www.History.com, “St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint's religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years.” Today the celebrations extend far from Ireland—the largest taking place in North America—but range as far as Japan, Singapore and Russia.[i]

Green is, of course, a prominent feature of St. Patrick’s Day celebration garb and gear. The popular phrase embodied in this blog’s title refers to the long-standing practice of wearing a shamrock on one’s clothing, but today’s holiday celebrants’ affinity for green extends far beyond the 3-lobed saintly symbol.

The extension of green from shamrock to celebration is easy to understand. But how did green come to be associated with all things environmental? According to Wikipedia, the word green is closely related to the Old English verb growan, “to grow.” Common connotations of the word also include nature, grass, hope, youth, and spring.[ii] So you don’t have to ascribe to the theory ofbiophilia to see how green came to be associated with “tree huggers.”

Like the saint whose name now graces a popular drinking holiday, environmentalists often are seen as being too uptight, legalistic, and downright un-fun. While I believe there are clear environmental warning messages that need to be imparted, carrot approaches work much better than sticks. So kick back and enjoy being green. This is a party for our mutual future on this planet, not a wake for eco-disaster.

Here are few fun ideas: Try turning environmental goals into games. Lead a hike, canoe trip, or urban nature scavenger hunt. It’s hard to cultivate a true love for nature if you’ve only seen it on the Discovery Channel. Read a good green book—not a doom and gloom one, but one with practical solutions and real hope. I’m currently reading Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute.[iii] Won’t you join the party? Oh, and be sure to wear something green.

“Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!” (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

by Kyle Crider

Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America.


[i] http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day

[ii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green

[iii] http://rmi.org/ReinventingFire