Monday, March 17, 2008

Save your money, save the world

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, if everyone consumed like North Americans we’d need five planets to support us. Yep, you read that right — five planets!! What does that say about the effect our consumption is having on the one planet we actually have?

Many supporters of living green to fight climate change talk about the importance of buying smart. And they’re right. Just think about the McMansions, huge SUVs, RVs, wastefully packaged goods, energy inefficient appliances, all the cheap goods sold at your nearest big-box store — and anything else you can think of that has become synonymous with our consumer culture. Our choices as consumers have a huge role to play in whether or not we’re able to lessen our impact on the planet.

But often missing from the buying smart discussion is the equally important concept of buying less. It might not be a popular idea in our society, and it’s a hard habit to break, but reducing consumption is an essential component in addressing climate change. That’s because whatever we consume — food, clothes, housing, transportation, technology, entertainment — is pretty much dependent on the continuous use of fossil fuels.

So in order to contribute to the global goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as individuals we cannot only choose to buy green products, but we can also make the sacrifice to buy less. As tempting as it is to get a good deal, don't buy things you don't need and won't use. For example, borrow from your local library instead of buying books you'll read only once. And don’t pay to cool your home or office to the point that you have to wear a sweater in the summer.

What it really all comes down to is that as a consumer, we each make choices that have an impact on the future of our planet and, in turn, our health. Buying a hybrid SUV is certainly a better choice than buying a Hummer. But it would be an even better choice to buy a hybrid compact car, or better yet, make the tougher choice to not buy a car at all and use a bicycle or public transportation to get around.

Making the choice to buy less can have a huge impact on the planet and in your life. Along with the fossil fuels that aren’t being burned, think about the calories burned by the person who decides to forgo the new car and use their bike to get around. And just think about all the money saved not buying gas! Maybe the choice isn’t as tough as it originally seems…

What are you willing to buy less of? Share your thoughts!

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