It's not every day you see a walking contradiction. But I saw one in a Publix parking lot.
I was pulling into the Carrollwood lot, searching for a space. A woman walked out of the store and headed for the aisle I was in. Because the lot was so full, I decided to wait for her to leave.
She was bogged down with tons of the newly hip green bags — the ones that are made of recycled materials and can be used again and again — and wore a white T-shirt that said "Green is Sexy" in big, bold letters. Out of the bags peeked bland, yet stylish packages of organic food.
Then, she climbed into her big, black Hummer. You know, the car that gets gallons to the mile instead of vice versa.
The green lifestyle is just that: a lifestyle, not a trend. Still, this woman is one among many whose actions to improve the world seem counterbalanced by their other deeds.
Some of my friends have given up their favorite hair products because they come in aerosol cans. As these girls are frightfully aware, aerosol cans were identified as a leading cause in the depletion of the ozone layer about 20 years ago. Instead of continuing to use the dangerous products, they settled for non-aerosol sprays, creams, pomades and gels.
Meanwhile, they blow-dry, straighten, curl or diffuse their hair every day, using electricity that could be used elsewhere. They leave the appliances on longer than necessary waiting for them to warm up, or "in case they still need them later on." They're helping on one end, but totally wasting resources on the other.
And what about all of this bottled water?
Sure, we have water shortages and in some places, the bottled water is safer to drink. But what people don't realize is that the plastic bottles, their labels, and the water inside have been created and processed in large plants that belch ugly smoke into our atmosphere while also using large amounts of electricity.
And let's not forget the plastic bottles, which I am sure are tossed on the roadside or in the trash far more often than they are recycled. How green is that?
Karl Dickey, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida, recounted an incident that left me both laughing and in shock. Dickey attended the 2007 Green Party of Florida convention in Lake Worth. As he circled the parking lot, he saw he was the only one with an environmentally safe Prius car. Most of the Green Party guests drove Lexuses, Lincoln Town Cars and SUVs.
Okay, so maybe it's difficult to be an environmentalist all the time. To quote Kermit the Frog, "It's not easy being green." It can be more expensive to switch to a completely green lifestyle. And it's difficult to stick with. But, as they say, "no pain, no gain."
Even the smallest action does help. By choosing to ride your bike instead of driving even on one occasion, you are helping.
To fully improve the environment, there's a lot of hard work that needs to be done. I'll admit to being as trendy as the next person. But going green should not be a trend. Trends are for fashion, and toys, and fancy coffee drinks, but not for the future of our planet.
I'm only 17 and I plan on being here a long time. Living green isn't just cool — it's essential. In the end, the real differences will be made when people commit to fully changing the way they live.
Simone Kallet is an IB student at Hillsborough High School.