I was recently in Caffé Nero - don't ask - with a group of environmentally-conscious friends when someone asked, "would you consider yourself a 'Green'?" Everyone raised their hands in agreement, but I could only look on, disgusted, before blurting out, "I am definitely NOT a 'Green'!" Not since watching George Michael's sorry performance at the Olympics Closing Ceremony have I experienced such an acute sense of revulsion.
You see, green is the colour of jealously, the colour of sickness and, most alarmingly of all, the colour that is most commonly associated with the environmental movement throughout the world. Besides, my favourite colour is blue - conservative, Yves Klein blue.
When I published my last blog on the Huffington Post UK - The Only Thing the Residents of Balcombe Hate More Than Fracking is Anti-Fracking Demonstrators - I upset quite a few 'Greenies' who branded my prose frivolous and superficial. Apparently, I had trivialised the threat of fracking and placed style before substance. Superficial, moi? My only crime appears to have been that I made, with jolly good justification, an honest assessment of some of the more imprudent sartorial choices at Balcombe.
Let's face it, the demonstrators - smeared with neon face-paint and lashings of self-righteousness - only consolidated the tired stereotype of the unsanitary treehugger. Indignant demonstrators took to Twitter in an attempt to refute my clumsy accusations and persuade me that the press had painted a biased picture. There were, they told me, plenty of normal, un-bearded people who had made the pilgrimage to Balcombe. I'm sure there were, however, I - along with the rest of the working populace - didn't have a chance to see them.
Notwithstanding the validity of their defence, I still question if the demonstrators did enough to look in the mirror and see themselves as they really are and, believe me, looking in the mirror is something I happen to know a lot about. Indeed, it's not vanity that they should be afraid of, but an astonishing lack of self-awareness.
The 'Greens' in this country need to wake-up, because the reality is this: Sustainable issues are seen as the preserve of a 'dreadlocked elite'. Yes, there are notable exceptions, but its figureheads are often portrayed as being on the fringes of society, doom-mongering from their award-winning eco-treehouses in Gloucestershire.
The challenge here is obvious: mitigating the root causes of climate change will require a collective effort from corporations, governments, charitable organisations and consumers alike. How, therefore, do we kick-start a global mass movement that will capture the imagination of EVERYONE - not just a few compassionate Care Bears?
I have used Balcombe as my principal example here because it is within recent memory; however, I believe it reflects a creeping shapelessness that is starting to infect all modern protests. This is why critics have now coined the expression 'rent-a-protest'. A term that insultingly sees all protestors, regardless of their agenda - no matter how relevant, worthy, or authentic - as an homogenous group.
I can't speak for all political and ethical campaigns, so I will level my sights once again at my frenemies in the green movement. Success can only be assured when the world's citizens all want to be a part of your club. You need to graduate to being a global mass movement and, as we have seen, the millennials can't be relied upon to do this alone. For pity's sake, try to make yourselves more personable or, at the very least, a little more media-savvy. I don't have all the answers - yet - but I do have an eye for what looks really good, and 'Green' definitely isn't it.
Matthew Phillips (AKA Climate Gentleman) launches his debut video at The Social in London on 9th October