For a while now, many people have believed that making changes that are more environmentally friendly, or ‘greener’, is more expensive than continuing along in the same way they always have. I know that several years ago, at the beginning of the awareness about climate change, it was not only expensive but also quite difficult to make any meaningful changes.
As the environmental movement has gathered momentum, green products and services have become cheaper. This is mainly because more people are seeking out these green products and services to buy and use for themselves. The greater the demand, the cheaper the goods are to be produced. We all know that mass-produced goods are cheaper than exclusive products that are manufactured in small numbers.
I don’t know about you, but when something that was going to be good for the planet was going to cost me extra cash, I had to think long and hard about whether I could afford to make the changes. I mean, I wanted to do my bit but I still had to make ends meet, didn’t I? Lots of people were also inclined to think that their small, individual changes would have little over-all effect on global warming and carbon emissions.
Enough time has passed, as well as extensive research completed, to show us that these issues are a real threat to maintaining our lifestyles and the long-term health of the planet that supports us. More people than ever have come around to considering making significant changes to the way they live their lives, all in the name of saving the planet. The green movement is gaining strength around the world.
Now that there is a financial incentive, people are more inclined to be environmentally aware in their choice of the things they buy and use. As more people realize that they can actually save money by making green choices, more and more environmentally friendly actions will become part of everyday life. This can only be good for the environment and the planet.
A study in the UK proved that the products we use in our daily lives actually have an ecological footprint and why it is so important for us to make smarter and greener buying decisions.
In June 2003 the European Commission adopted a Communication on an integrated product policy (IPP) aiming to reduce the environmental impacts of products, where possible by using a market-driven approach that combines competitiveness with social concerns.
The analysis used the following eight environmental impact categories:
• abiotic depletion
• global warming
• human toxicity
• ozone layer depletion
• photochemical oxidation
Taken in combination, the results of the studies reviewed and the new CEDA EU-25 model exercise are strikingly robust at the level of functional areas of consumption, irrespective of the impact categories considered. In the studies that included them systematically, food and drink, transport and housing are consistently the most important areas – across both different studies and the different impact categories compared (global warming, acidification, photochemical ozone formation, and eutrophication). Together they account for 70 to 80 per cent of the whole life cycle impact of products.
The contribution of passenger transport to the total environmental impacts of private consumption ranges from 15 to 35%, depending on the category. Based on the data used for this study, the greatest impact is from cars, despite major improvements in the environmental performance in recent years, especially on air emissions.
Food and drink cause 20 to 30% of the various environmental impacts of private consumption, and this increases to more than 50% for eutrophication. This includes the full food production and distribution chain ‘from farm to fork’. Within this consumption area, meat and meat products are the most important, followed by dairy products.
The products under the heading of housing include buildings, furniture, domestic appliances, and energy for purposes such as room and water heating. Together they make up 20 to 35% of the impacts of all products for most impact categories. Energy use is the single most important factor, mainly for room and water heating, followed by structural work (new construction, maintenance, repair, and demolition). The next important products are energy-using domestic appliances, e.g. refrigerators and washing machines.
To each their own, but with statistics like these, I am motivated to make changes in my life in regards to my eco-impact.
If you, like me, have decided to support the movement towards making greener choices in your life, I have previously published some articles that will show you different ways you can save money by going green. I guess you could even take the view that, if it’s going to save you money, you may as well do it whether you believe the climate change story or not. What do you have to lose?
Make Changes Around the House
Here are some things around the house you can do to live greener:
Here are some personal things you can do to be green:
Change Your Attitude
I guess the most important change you need to make first is your attitude and how you think about making changes to your life. At first, you might find these changes inconvenient or difficult. As with any new thing, you need to give it time for a new habit to be formed; this generally takes around 30 days. Once the new habit is established, you’ll not even have to think about it.
Take the issue of recycling, for example, one of the first environmental strategies governments put into place around the world. Once, we were all used to just throwing everything into the trash, knowing it would be collected from outside our house and taken away, so we wouldn’t have to worry about it ever again. Now we sort the trash into garbage and recycling, almost automatically for most of us; it’s not a difficult task and doesn’t really take any extra time to do, once we have formed the habit.
Try New Things
Once you change your mindset, it’s amazing how many different ways you can find to go green. You tend to be on the look-out for new green actions and can become quite clever at putting strategies into place in your life. Get the whole family involved to increase the positive impact you make on the environment.
Involve the Kids
There may be more than just you in the house. If there is, you have to get everyone involved in green living.
One of the best ways to teach your children to care about and respect their environment is to be a good role model. If you show enthusiasm and respect for wildlife and nature, your child will follow the lead.
Encourage outdoor learning at home. As a family, plant a garden or a tree and watch it grow. Visit a neighborhood or community garden plot to learn about how other families grow their own vegetables and flowers. Build a birdhouse or bird feeder for your backyard. Have children collect backyard flowers and leaves to create nature bouquets or pressed-flower pictures.
Take a weekend adventure to a state/provincial or national park. Go for a hike, take a canoe trip, or visit a nature center. Spend time talking with your children about the plants and animals they see. Have them draw pictures or take photographs of the things they see or experience on your weekend outing. Check out books from your local library to read with your children on local plants and animal life.
Bottom Line: It’s Your Choice
As you can see, there are many reasons why we, as citizens of this planet should live a green lifestyle. The European study pointed out our impact can be great if we don’t pay attention to the products we use and I showed you how living green is affordable and in many cases can save us money. But….
“Shouldn’t we be focusing on the economy, poverty, obesity, disease, famine and any number of other problems that affect the lives of the citizens of the world, instead of the environment?”
This is a question still asked by thousands of people. There are also thousands of people who still think that global warming is just a myth or scare-mongering by scientists and radicals. Some say that the changes in weather and climate are just a natural function of the Earth’s existence.
Well, I guess it is up to each of us to make up our own minds but I would encourage you to educate yourself about the latest information and statistics that form a compelling body of evidence that humans have indeed helped to create an environmental problem. It is also people like you and me who can make changes to start to turn things around.
The rest is up to you though. You need to make the choice on how you want to live. No one else can do that for you.
My question is, are you going to live green?