The green movement – highlighted in an Examiner series over the last two weeks – is a call for us to rethink some fundament issues.

How do we get around town and around the country? What stuff do we buy, how do we use it, and what do we do with it when we’re done with it?

The big, big questions, however, have any number of small, individual answers. Sure, government can play a role, but consumers speak most loudly in a market economy. We the People cannot pass the buck to our hired hands in elective office for all the answers.

Point A to B: It’s encouraging at last to see some brave souls experimenting with alternative fuels such as biodiesel. More broadly, some people have scooped up hybrid vehicles, which recapture much of the lost energy of a regular gas-vehicle and put it to use.

Coming soon, we are told, are all-electric cars. That’s great news – to a point. Plugging in a car in the garage is a big tradeoff: Drive past the QuikTrip but wince when the utility bill comes. It’s trading oil for coal – and coal is dirty, dirty stuff. Burning it releases a whole range of pollutants. If we begin to switch some renewable energy into the system – Independence Power and Light is pursuing that – then we begin to see some real gains.

Eat right: We’ve all gotten used to just about everything fresh being in season all the time. That’s because much of fresh produce we enjoy is grown overseas, often a continent away. Some question that, pointing out that the real cost of anything has to be measured in how much fuel is burned and pollution is created to get it there (not to mention the packaging). Eating more locally grown and raised food also helps the economy right here.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: Nowhere has local government failed us more clearly on environmental issues than in its refusal to vigorously pursue recycling. Cities – including some in Missouri – have done this for decades, and the data are clear. If you want less in the landfill and more back in the production stream, you need curbside recycling.

Private companies have made it clear that they won’t do the job in Eastern Jackson County. Citizens, when asked, point out that this is a no-brainer. But this issue never gets very high on the agenda for our leaders – and it won’t until some in the community get organized and demand it.

As it stands, the consumer who takes recycling seriously has some options but has to work at it. Any number of churches and schools have drop-offs for paper and some other items. The city of Independence has two greats sites taking those items and others such as paperboard and the two most common types of plastic. Some private firms take scrap, and groups such as Bridging the Gap take items such as old computers, but all of that requires more work than nine out of 10 people are willing to do.

Catch the train: As we’ve said in this space several times, the Kansas City area needs a serious plan for mass transit and it should include light rail. Again, our local leaders have been hesitant where they need to be bold. We won’t get action until people demand it.

It’ll take years and cost a bundle, but it’s an investment that has been deferred for decades, and we pay the price at the pump and in longer commutes. For example, if you live in Blue Springs and work in downtown Kansas City, that’s already a dicey commute, and experts say that as each year passes, you can tack on a minute a day, indefinitely. Is that acceptable?