Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Week: Character Green

Have you ever written/read a book
with an environmentally-minded character?
In honor of Earth Day, I decided to do a post on a character persona that is one of my own personal faves:

The Greenie

Vocation to Lifestyle - 50 Shades of Green:

There are are so many different kinds of environmentally oriented folk, which means that there are an equally abundant amount of opportunities to highlight green character traits in your novel! From the deep green super-advocate, to the quirky eco-eccentric to the weekend environmentalist, there's a lot of possibilities to work with. You can find inspiration just about anywhere, including lot of great examples in literature, movies, tv shows, and real life!

Environmental Novels || TV's Greenest Characters 
YA Book List - Environmental Twist || Teen Environmental Reads

The Eco-Warrior
When we think of a greenie, the green superhero might be the persona that comes to mind. Like Captain Planet, eco-warriors are on a mission to save the world from certain doom. But not all green superheroes need invoke other-worldly powers to avert an environmental apocalypse. The eco-warrior could be an everyday character with a cause. There's the environmental lawyer, the marine biologist, the rainforest ecologist, the vegan chef, the reporter investigating the compounding factors behind a natural disaster.
In YA, it might be the president of the environmental club, the editor of the high-school newspaper, the kid personally investigating their asthmatic sibling's illness/death.
Personally, I think the eco-warrior character is a really tricky one to write. It's very easy to over-do things and start sounding preachy. And I'm not a fan of preachy novels because I think they can sometimes have the opposite-of-intended effect. That said, when well done, I think these can be really great!

Some Examples of Eco-Warriors: Pelican Brief, Erin Brockovich, Lisa Simpson

Green Quirks

Ok, so the Lorax is more of an Eco-Warrior
but he's also so cute and quirky!
Sometimes what you want is a little green flavor, but you don't want it to take over your entire story. I could talk about all the normal things that people do to go green, but we already know all those: Eating vegetarian/vegan, eating local/organic, driving less, recycling, buying used instead of new, hanging clothes to dry instead of using a dryer, retrofitting houses with solar panels, water saving features etc...

Those are great, but instead, why not try a few green quirks to add depth and a little fun to your characters?

Quirky greenies aren't your run-of-the-mill yuppie environmentalists who do boring things like recycle and retrofit their house with solar panels. Maybe quirky greens don't have the extra cash, or maybe they just want to take things one step greener.
Here are some ideas w/ links! (Some of them I'm totally going to try in real-life! ... and some already describe me, haha)

Energy Fiend: Refuses to use [insert electric appliance] // Moves into single room of house in winter // Retrofits chest freezer into eco-refrigerator // Reroutes excess heat from fridge into hot water heater // Insulates fridge with shag carpet // Must unplug everything in house before leaving // Removes backseat from car to lessen weight // Refuses to use hot water // Bakes only in a solar oven // Refuses to visit anyone outside walking/biking radius // Eats food sourced only within a 100 mile radius // Goes Vegan! // Replaces meat with insects //

Water Guard: Collects bathroom sink water in bucket to flush toilet // Only eats food with a low water footprint // Turns off others' sprinkler systems in summer // Only drinks from one water glass a day (to avoid washing) //  Goes on a no-shower stint // Dry shampoos // Reuses vegetable/noodle cooking water to make soups // Brushes teeth and/or washes clothes while showering // Joins the Pee Outside movement //
Bryant Terry:
Real Life Green Superchef!

Zero Waster: Makes art out of trash // Makes useful stuff out of trash // Keeps all bags, bottles, plastic containers for future reuse  // Dumpster diver! // Insists on eating leftover food off of other's plates so it doesn't go to waste // Keeps reusable containers/cutlery in purse at all times (in case at function w/disposable plates) //

Eccentric Ecologist: Wakes up in middle of night to study nocturnal creatures // Goes on midnight beachwalks in winter just to catch the lowest tide // Keeps notebook at all times to record sightings of a certain type of beetle in the city // Updates a map of all honeybee hives in the city // Rogue Seed-Baller ... Like Miss Rumphius //

Have you ever read or written a story with a 'green' MC? Or a character with green quirks? What do you think are the key challenges when writing a character on a moral mission? What are your eco-quirks?


  1. Hey Carissa!
    I love your blog!!!
    I'm a new follower!!! :D

    Stop by my blog sometime :)


  2. Great post on green characters! And thanks so much for the link to our blog ;) Also, Bryant's book Vegan Soul Kitchen is amazing :)

  3. Thanks, I had a ton of fun writing this one!

    I LOVE Bryant Terry's book ... everything I've tried is incredibly tasty, and all the music paired to go along with the recipes? Just amazing. I was involved in a food/drama event at my Uni where he came to speak so I got to meet him and eat some of his delish food -- which he cooked on stage for the audience! Highlight of the year!

  4. Interesting post. I love the turning trash into art link. Some of those were amazing!

    I haven't read too many books where there was a green main character. The only ones that come to mind are Pamela Clare's I-Team series. Not the main characters really but the subject of some of the books kind of relate to being earth friendly. It's not too in your face which I appreciate. I think it could be easy to over do and make the characters seem a bit too preachy.



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