TEENS ON GREEN DEEN
WHY I DON’T WANT TO BE GREEN
‘I yawned out loud as I lifted the curtains and stepped onto my balcony. My eyes were still feeling heavy and itchy: the result of having overworked myself the day before.
‘It was 8:30 am and I had just forced myself out of bed, and while I was still contemplating whether or not to return to sleep the voice of my next door neighbour suddenly cleared my eyes and drove away the drowsiness. I looked straight into her compound and saw her waving at me while she carefully lined up her baby’s cloth nappies. Her husband was also busy, tending their gardens while her four year old son busied himself by building sand castles right inside the garden. We exchanged pleasantries and then I began to wonder what two contrasting lifestyles we have.
‘The close relationship they have, their small house, the big gardens, the water hoses running around their compound and Oh my God! She uses cloth nappies? These are not my things. Being “GREEN” is what she called it on certain occasions when we’ve really had the time to talk deeply. Even though it appears beautiful to me, I just can’t bring myself to be like that. I don’t even want to think about it.’
Does this experience sound familiar to you? I will definitely get a, “YES” from most of you who are still having a hard time accepting Mother Earth’s engagement proposal. These are not words from my life, actually. Above is an excerpt from a Young Adult fiction I’m working on at present.
Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check.
I had the opportunity of having a close chat with a group of teenage girls, my kid sister being one of them, on what exactly was drawing them back from professing their total love for nature. Some of their responses in anonymity were quite overwhelming. But there was one thing in common for them all. Living green was going to prevent them from being funky and glam …
“I mean how would it feel to sit in the dining hall with my classmates and nibble at every grain of food left on my plate? It feels great to be in tune with nature but not in a strange way, ” said Fadilah (15), who initially admitted that a green lifestyle was great but embracing it in public could be a choking and heart wrecking experience.
While some of the girls confessed how much they loved pets and detested ill – treatment of animals, they all felt it impossible to embrace a totally green lifestyle. Dammy (16) said “It’s fun actually when you own a pet and it becomes part and parcel of you. But then, I love shopping. I could be a product junkie when it comes to my looks and it’s fun for me too. But don’t you think that being too careful about what to – and what not to – buy can rip away all the fun?”
They all had me list out all the essential features of an eco-friendly beauty product and after the analysis, another girl, Eeman (14) made a funny remark: “So, to be a perfect eco-beauty shopper, I have to make a long list of what I’m trying to avoid. Pure natural ingredients, check; fair trade, check; no animal testing, check; does not contain parabens; check; does not contain phthalates, check; recyclable plastic, check and the list goes on and on without an end. May I give you my honest opinion? We can’t possibly get a product that meets all these requirements and even if there was [one], I can’t possibly spend all the time in the world product hunting.”
The other girls let out long laughter while concluding that it should be the responsibility of producers to ensure that their products are eco-compliant instead of consumers taking the pain.
Most importantly, all the girls think that being green is a bar to a life of comfort. “I hate cooking, ” said Yusra (15), “so the idea of growing my own food or buying raw food to begin the whole process of preparation and preservation on my own is out of the question right now. I mean, can’t I just settle for ready-made instant food fixes that can be stored for long [periods] instead of going through that long process?”
The girl’s problems with living green began to make a whole lot of sense to me when most of them said that they were aspiring to pursue careers that required a lot of their time and effort and could not, as a result, make out the time to live green.
We talked on and on, touching various areas such as transportation, gardening, household waste, exercises, clothing, and many more, and the whole argument seemed like it wasn’t going to end. But in the end, I couldn’t possibly have let them go without having them make a little green resolution. Most of them resolved to limit the amount of food and water they waste while only one of them resolved to try out cycling as a means of green exercise and transportation.
It was fun talking to the girls as I learnt a lot from the various perspectives they had while respecting their decisions and praying for them to see things differently in order to embrace the green lifestyle someday in future. I have learnt that seeing things from the perspective of others will pave a way for offering solutions to dilemmas faced by them. Insha’Allah, in the next issues of YMM, we shall address some of these issues collectively.
“So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder.
You are not over them a controller.”
The Fur’an, Surah Al-Ghaashiya (Chapter of the overwhelming) 88:21-22
Wardah Abbas is the Earth Care writer for Young Muslimah Magazine, she writes for SISTERS Magazine, and she celebrates Islam and highlights issues affecting women on her blog.