Types of Greenie

I really want someone to ask me, slightly scornfully, if I’m a die hard environmentalist, just so I can say “no, I’m a live gently environmentalist”. Unfortunately this exchange has never come about, but I’ll be ready when the time comes.

I’ve been thinking about the various “types” of greenie, and how different they are. Here’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the sub groups.

1. The back-to-the-lander – Believes everyone should buy a couple of acres in the country and live self sufficiently. The world’s troubles are due to nasty modern pests like urbanisation, technology and supermarkets, and can be combatted by compost heaps, chickens and soap-making. Inspired by John Seymour and The Good Life. Thinks we need to go back in time to some kind of rustic idyll.

2. The animal lover – Believes animals have a right to life and are not here simply for our use and abuse. Vegan or at least vegetarian, probably also a animal rights activist. Donates to animal sanctuaries and conservation groups. Is at least a bit ashamed of belonging to the human race because of how we’ve trashed the planet and therefore attempts to trash it as little as possible.

3. The health freak – Believes that everything that goes into our bodies should be pure and natural. Organic local food, natural beauty products, pollution free air and natural fabrics are all on their priority list. Probably has recently become a parent and has had a slap in the face realisation that the contemporary Western lifestyle is very very unhealthy.

4. The doomsayer – Not truly an environmentalist, but more somebody that loves the sensationalized “We’re all f***ed!” aspect of our current situation. Likes to talk about the worst-case scenarios and what could be done in apocalyptic disasters, such as climate change forcing us back into some kind of hellish dark age.

5. The wholesome hippie – Believes in doing the best they can. Grows their own vegetables, buys everything secondhand, repairs everything, is a member of Friends of the Earth. The generation that got involved with the green movement in the 70s and now has grown up and lucky children.

6. The “all talk” hippie – Believes that it’s what you say and think that matters, not what you do. Will procrastinate for hours with their friends over an organic peppermint tea, but actually just does whatever they find convenient not what they think is best for the planet.

7. The Eco geek – Believes technology will save us. Thinks if we play our cards right, we can invent ourselves out of disaster and into a future golden age where we’re so advanced we all live like kings and yet are in harmony with nature. Hydrogen run cars, super efficient renewable energy systems, hydroponic vertical urban farms… Just open up your imagination.

8. The Transitioner – A member of the ‘transition movement’. Believes if we work together in a localised and practical fashion, we can get through these hard times. Likely to be positive and active, a breath of fresh air to old crusty pessimists and a welcoming bridge to straight-laced “I care but I don’t know what to do”ists.

9. The angry pessimist – Believes nothing is good enough. Has been caring too much for too long, knows too much about too many problems and has got bitter. Will put down any attempt at environmental action as hypocritical, fluffy or ineffective. Although their hearts are in the right place, these environmentalists often unwittingly do more harm than good.

10. The cool eco chick – Believes in being seen to be green. Changes their light bulbs and carries a “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic” canvas tote around, but it pretty much ends there. Celebrities that jump about the globe in private jets and yet rock up to the Oscars with a hybrid SUB and a dress by Lynda Macartney fall into this category.


What group do you fit into?

Have you any more in mind that I’ve neglected to include?


3 thoughts on “Types of Greenie

  1. Hmm, I’m not certain which subspecies I fall into. I think it depends on the day. :-) Or perhaps I’m having trouble deciding because none of them are very flattering! Although I’m not a die hard animal rights person, I got into environmentalism because of my awe at life and biodiversity. But I also have a DIY streak (shows up sporadically) and am afraid I am sometimes the angry pessimist (especially about ‘green consumerism’ as a viable way to make a difference). I think you get this wide range of people because there are so many different reasons we could care about the planet — health, animals, self-interest, peer pressure. I’m not sure it really matters which as long as you’re putting in a good effort to be part of the solution.

    • I think you’re right Jennifer. And perhaps we just embody each of these personas at different times? I am an animal lover, would love to live off the land one day, hope the future will be better than now, am a Transition member, and am also the angry pessimist on occasion. I was considering adding another catagory about caring for the planet because of their religion/spirituality… Hmm..

  2. What a great list of categories. I fit into several of them, actually. The one you were thinking about adding- spiritual reasons and health freak, mostly. There is some fundamentalism there for me with health freak because my son and I have so many food sensitivities. I am a burgeoning back-to-the-lander – working on 70% of my family’s foods coming from either my backyard or local farmer. I’m ashamed to admit there is more doomsdayer in me than I’d like. Definitely transition movement because I am getting out there and building networks to support local sustainability. I’m not smart enough for eco geek or fashionable enough for eco chick.

    I like this post because it got me to succinctly identify why I am doing any of this. Intentions can float amorphously in my head and I can act on them. But it helps to consciously remember who we are and why we care about what we care about.

    Thanks for stopping by blog and for your thoughtful comments there. Will respond soon.


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