Green living doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will touch every part of your life. Now, don’t make too many changes all at once, but eventually you’ll change the way you eat, clean, take care of your yard, travel, and so on.
If you make small changes a few at a time, green living won’t feel like an unreasonable sacrifice. And even if you don’t enjoy making all the changes, you will enjoy the benefits of green living. Here are just a few.
1. Lead a healthier life
A sustainable lifestyle gives you cleaner indoor air. When you breathe cleaner air, you don’t have to see a doctor for chronic breathing issues. You won’t eat as much heavily processed food. You’ll get more exercise by walking more. And you’ll use fewer poisons in your yard and garden.
2. Conserve natural resources
Green living means using water, electricity, gasoline, and other natural resources more efficiently. And not only the resources you use directly. Everything you buy has “embedded” water and petroleum. That is, it has your share of the resources used to make and transport it.
And so as you develop greener habits, not only will you use resources more efficiently, you’ll also reduce your share of embedded resources.
3. Reduce environmental pollution
Have you heard of the 5 Rs of waste reduction? They’re refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (compost). I might as well add repair and repurpose. All these practices reduce the amount of waste (and embedded waste) you produce. Less waste means pollution. Conserving natural resources also reduce waste and therefore pollution.
4. Save money
Just think how much money you save with fewer doctor visits and making more efficient use of natural resources. Plus, green cleaning supplies cost less than heavily advertised brands. Eating at home costs less than eating out. Cooking simple meals costs less than making prepared foods. (And, believe it or not, takes little more time or energy).
5. Influence your community
You might wonder what difference one person makes. If you think of yourself as one person, unconnected to others, then it appears it doesn’t matter what you do as just one of a few billion people on this planet. But suppose a few million people decide to stop using drive-thru lanes, for example. Wouldn’t that have noticeable effects?
When you make green lifestyle choices, other people notice. You seem to be healthier and have more money for discretionary spending.
Environmentalists have a bad reputation as scolds. No one wants to give in to bullies. But you can talk about how much better your new habits have made your life. You can pick up litter in parking lots and let a scowl of disapproval express your feelings without saying a word. When people see the benefits of what you do, they’re likely to make some changes to their own ways.
And so you’re not just an individual acting alone. You’re not without influence. Model the benefits of green living, and other people will start to do some of the same things. Other people influence you, don’t they?
6. Influence the next generation
If you’re a parent, grandparent, or teacher, children are watching. Your actions influence their thinking and therefore their behavior. Even more than they influence your neighbors and co-workers.
When you stop to think about it, green living is a fairly new concept. Even the concept of an environmentalist is hardly half a century old. The earliest environmentalists sought to pressure governments and businesses, but they neglected to think very much about influencing individual households.
Therefore, most of us didn’t grow up in a green living household. We have learned sustainability little by little on our own. Sustainable living still doesn’t feel normal in society as a whole.
Here’s where your influence on children comes into play. What they see regularly growing up seems normal to them. If they see you making green decisions day in and day out, they will get into the habit earlier and easier than you did.
Maybe that’s the biggest benefit of green living: watching the next generation grow up caring about sustaining our world.
Environmental Science: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About . . .
Sustainability Principles and Practice
Before and After the First Earth Day, 1970: A History of Environmentalism, Its Successes and Failures