The current economic downturn has a "green" lining: reduced consumption is cutting environmental impact almost across the board, scaling back carbon dioxide emissions and trash piles as people drive less, buy less, and pluck more goods out of neighborhood yard sales and on-line swap shops before they get redirected to the dump.
These are good habits to develop, even if many of us have been forced into them. But what will happen when the financial crisis eases (which it eventually will) and we start to feel money jiggling in our pockets again? It could be tempting to forgo our new behavior patterns and rush out to buy SUVs, the newest electronic gadget, and more clothes than we can possibly wear. That would be a shame. If the financial meltdown has taught us anything, it should be that the way we spend our money matters. When we have dollars to dole out again, we should do so not only to meet our material needs, but to bolster the green economy, too.