Unsung environmental heroes – random acts of green

First published July 2010, last updated August 2013

When a movie star goes green, it makes headlines. The green movement also has its share of home-grown heroes; people you see mentioned each week on environmentally themed sites. It’s great stuff as it inspires many people.

What inspires me more is witnessing what would appear to be “random acts of green” by ordinary folks.

I remember an incident a few years back driving along on the outskirts of Adelaide. It was a windy, cold morning with intermittent drizzle. Niki the Wonder Dog and I were comfortable enough in our heated mini-van buzzing along the highway when in the distance; I saw a car on the side of the road. I slowed down thinking that perhaps someone needed assistance.

Out of the gloom emerged a lonely figure; an elderly gentleman with a bag who appeared to be just picking up rubbish along the side of the road.. and no, he wasn’t just picking up cans and bottles for the deposit cash.

He wasn’t wearing a Greenpeace T-shirt, there was no environmental group name stencilled on his car and he certainly didn’t have the media in tow. In fact, there was nothing to indicate he was a “greenie” at all aside from what he was doing – he just seemed to be someone doing his bit for the environment.

I’ll never know his name, but to me he’s an environmental hero. He made me stop and think about why I couldn’t do something like that from time to time; a random act of green-ness – to spend 5 or 10 minutes each trip cleaning up a section of roadside; or perhaps where I stop to have my break.

It’s the sort of thing we can all do.

These random acts don’t have to entail you being chilled to the bone and trudging along a muddy road or spending hours at a time engaged in an activity. It could be picking up some litter in the park or at the beach while you are there, turning off a light at work in a room not being used – just something spontaneous and outside your own usual green focus.

Just imagine, if every adult in the USA performed one random act of green a day, over a year that would amount to over 114 billion actions. That’s a lot of litter collected or lights turned off. As I’ve so often mentioned, simple green actions do work when occurring in multiples.

For those of you who do regularly practice random acts of green – it is noticed and it does inspire. Like the better known green celebrities and activists; you are heroes too.