Jordan’s Green Guide #winning

Humans are competitive and social.  Combine these two truths and one can explain much of human behavior, but when it comes to eco-conscious actions I think it’s best to promote healthy competition instead of unhealthy competition.  I would define healthy competition as resolving to overcome adversity; to achieve the desired objective.  Healthy competition is beneficial in that when we engage in it, we set goals and receive confidence boosts when we’ve employed discipline and worked hard to achieve the desired result.  Healthy competition is hoisting one’s self up through discipline and achievement.

I would define unhealthy competition as pushing others down.  To “win” in unhealthy competition is to simply make others lesser, instead of making one’s self-greater.  This type of competition is detrimental in that it stems from insecurity and the chase for empty validation.  That is, one receives no meaningful increase in self-confidence from proving someone else’s failings.  Engaging in unhealthy competition is to surrender to the voice of insecurity, and ultimately, to empower it through validating its existence via behavior.

So what does this have to do with the environment?  Well, everything really.  When we slander the efforts of others to reduce their ecological footprint as insufficient or misguided, we are competing in an unhealthy manner.  When we challenge ourselves and others to new heights of environmental awareness and associated behavior, we are competing healthily.  Below are some tips for how to stay on the healthier side of eco-conscious competition:

  1. Don’t tell somebody they’re doing something wrong or misguided.

  2. Don’t tell anybody what they should do.  Don’t tell anybody, anything, actually.

  3. Behave in the manner that you wished to tell others about and shut your yapper.  The human competitive spirit will do the rest.

  4. Avoid phrases like, “I can’t have that,” for meat, dairy, straws or whatever else you’re trying to avoid.  Instead simply order something else or ask for these things to be absent.  Remember, you have set this challenge for yourself and no one else.  You can have these things, but are choosing not to. And ain’t nobody else needs make the same choice you did.

  5. If asked about your behavior, use phrases like, “I am trying to reduce my…” or “I’m attempting to purchase less…”.  These verbs provide humility, and let’s face it, you ain’t perfect and neither am I.  Additionally, these types of phrases invoke curiosity, as those in your company may think, “but why is he/she trying/attempting to do such a thing?”.  “Trying” and “attempting” also elude the process things, and not the end goal.  Nothing is static.

  6. If the urge to pipe up and say how you are reducing your footprint in relation to others in your company, remember that comparison achieves absolutely nothing! This is unhealthy competition.  There will always be some doing more and some doing less than you, so drop the comparison, and start the self-betterment.  

  7. If that urge to say how much you reduce your footprint just won’t go away, think about where it might be coming from.  In my case, it appears to come from a place of insecurity.  More specifically, I believe I am simply seeking validation of my behavior from my peers; principally, “if peers say Jordan = good, then Jordan = good”.  The problem is that the sense that Jordan is good has to come from Jordan and nobody else.

  8. If seeking external validation of your eco-conscious behavior, set personal objectives and quietly work to achieve them.  I think you’ll find the voice in the back of your head needing validation, inversely dissipating in direct proportion to setting and achieving personal goals.  This is healthy personal competition.

  9. If attempting to reduce your footprint and seeking to engage friends in competition to do so, define the competition only in terms of how one might win instead of how one might lose.  Focus on how to be better, not to prove how others may be worse.

  10. If annoyed by Jordan’s, the wannabe-therapist, Green-Guide, stop reading now, haha!

I just thought I’d share some things I’ve noticed along the way.  Interestingly, much of my daily consumptive behavior seems to stem from deeper level things like social validation instead of simple needs and wants. 


Anyhoo, I’ll try to keep next week’s Green-Guide a twinge more fun.  And you thought you were going to be reading something funny about winning...


Jordan McKay