“Going green” has come to symbolize environmentalism in such a familiar way that most of us don’t think twice about who first coined the phrase.
I was curious about the origin of the term and wondered what made it take such strong hold in the English language. Speaking of curiosities, remember Heinz’s food flop several years ago when they decided to go green (literally) with ketchup? Glad that didn’t take hold.
Most people associate the beginning of the green movement and environmentalism with the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in the 1970’s.
Surprisingly, it dates back even further, to Henry David Thoreau’s writings in the 19th century. Thoreau spoke about living a “green” life in The Maine Woods in his call for conservation, forest preservation and respect for nature. You are probably familiar with several of Thoreau’s famous inspirational quotes (i.e., “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams,” or “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”). His greener remarks include:
What is the use of a house if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?
This one’s my favorite (Thoreau, you were a funny guy!):
Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes.
Did you have any idea the U.S. “green movement” was rooted in early American philosophy?