Like it or not; you’re a tree hugger

Thanks to a convergence of sociological and political factors, we’re all tree huggers now. Gone are the days when the term was a swift and clear put-down for anyone with green or spiritual tendencies. Now, whether voluntarily, by coercion or conscription, we are all living in a well and truly new, new age where no one can escape the ecological, psychological and spiritual imperatives, once only the domain of the knit-your-own muesli brigade.

Think about it: Try asking for a plastic carrier bag without feeling like an eco-villain in a supermarket; try picking up a newspaper or magazine that doesn’t carry some sort of “change your life”, healthy eating or how-to-be-green feature; see if you can avoid self-help and positive thinking management techniques at school or work; and don’t even think about not separating your recyclable and non-recyclable rubbish.

Living the life of a tree hugger is not a weird, marginal or absurdly dismissable activity any more, it’s the new manifesto for guilt-free, sustainable modern living. And it’s here to stay. Rapidly rising food and fuel prices plus ‘green’ taxes have hit us where it hurts, causing even the most resistant among us to act and ask questions. Like it or not, we are all becoming the people we may have crossed the road to avoid only ten years ago. How long until the terms soap dodger, new age traveller and crusty will also become badges of honour?

All this said however, as sure as there are many types of tree, there are many types of tree hugger. See if you can spot yourself in this brief guide to all creatures green and environmentally aware…

Loliboomers – Combining the first two letters of the two words they most often utter – “Love and Light”, Lo-Li-Boomers are more pink and fluffy than green and earnest. However, they do love the planet albeit from a spiritual perspective, giving their organic tomato plants Reiki healing, with the feint whiff of Nag Champa incense in the background. See if you’re a loliboomer at www.loliboom.co.uk

Hedolists – Combining a love of hedonistic pleasures with a holistic awareness, hedolists take tree-hugging to a new and more intimate level. You’ll not see a horse-hair shirt among these guys, who are more likely to be naked in either a sweat lodge or rain forest seeing the world through the shamanic lens of Ayahuasca. Their manifesto can be downloaded at www.hedolistic.com

Limes – These are the barely greens, probably driven by legislation, a guilty conscience or a sense of fashion. Seemingly green on the outside, they’re an even lighter shade within. It’s a net gain for the planet though, these guys are doing all the right things, even if not from the most authentic and honourable place.

Indigos – After green comes indigo, the “spiritual” colour. You may have heard of Indigo Children – thought to have an empathic connection to the Earth and the thoughts and feelings of others. With extraordinary abilities, Some say they have come to bring peace, topple corrupt institutions and make the shift from allopathic medicine to natural alternatives. More and more adults are claiming the Indigo tag. See: www.copperwiki.org

Scuppies – These guys are a great sign of the times. As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”. Looks like the yuppies of the 80’s have grasped more than an an olive branch; they’re hugging the whole tree as yup has turned to scup – as in socially conscious and upwardly mobile. More at: www.scuppie.com

LOHASers – Using the acronym from Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, these folks are actually a market segment first noticed in the US, who are usually wealthy and well-educated. An indication of their power was revealed in 2006 when it was was estimated that they constitute $300 billion or approximately 30% of the USA consumer market. There are 40 million of them in the USA alone and they’re closely associated with the…

Cultural Creatives – Author Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson coined this term in their book The Cultural Creatives – How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. They say this lot (over a quarter of the US adult population) has not yet found its identity but is disenchanted with materialism and hedonism. AKA the “new progressives”, this growing group openly admits to being “spiritual” and embraces such practices in daily life without formal religion.

Eco-geeks – ”Those who shun technologies that could save the planet are just as guilty as those who ignore the environment,” says the eco-geek’s namesake site. “There’s a safe balance, where the awesome can help nature as much as it helps us have a good time and live easier lives.”

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