I’d like to applaud you if you’re making 2011 New Year’s Resolutions to live a greener life, I really would.
The truth is,resolutions are as easy to abandon as they are to embrace. Yes, they’re noble. They may even be inspiring. But do they usually work?
No. They’re just too vague, too lofty; they leave too much wiggle room. And if there’s anything the planet doesn’t need more of, it’s wiggle room!
That’s why, rather than make resolutions this year, I hope you’ll consider setting a specific goal. Something not just to aim for, but to surpass. A benchmark. A way you can prove to yourself that you’re actually DOING something. Making a difference.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’d like that goal to be about how you spend your money. In fact, I’d like to encourage you to set a specific goal of shifting at least $1,000 of your normal household budget to the greenest products and services available: no-VOC paints, BPA-free bottles, energy-efficient cars or mass transit, organic food. You get the idea. The “green” version of what you buy anyway.
Why does it matter?
When we pay for goods, manufacturers pay attention to us. They have to. Consumer dollars are their lifeblood. So rather than fall prey to companies and the millions of dollars they spend to tell us what to buy, we can use our own dollars to tell them what to make – and how to make it. The more money you shift to to greener options, the more you direct manufacturers to reduce pollution, save energy and water, use less packaging, limit toxic substances, curb climate change, and protect natural areas.
Plus, our economic system is based on supply and demand. If you want the supply of greener goods to increase, your demand for them has to increase as well.
But there’s perhaps an even more important reason to shift your spending. The way you spend your money is your first line of defense. It’s the fastest, easiest way to guard both your pocketbook and your health. Not nearly enough laws and regulations are in place to protect us from the 80,000 or more chemicals circulating in our environment. The U.S. Congress still hasn’t been able to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, even though 2010 may turn out to be the warmest year on record. Most food is still grown by big conglomerates that liberally douse their fields in pesticides and herbicides.
We can reduce our exposure to toxins significantly by buying the safest products available. We can save money by opting for more fuel efficient appliances and modes of transportation and reduce our carbon impact at the same time. We can keep our communities strong and thriving by buying food grown, not just organically, but locally.
So set a goal. You won’t be alone. Already, 6,000 people have started to make the shift, as part of the Big Green Purse One in a Million Campaign. If we get to a million (that’s OUR goal!), we can have a noticeable ONE BILLION DOLLAR IMPACT in the marketplace.
Want to get started?
You can make the biggest difference by picking one commodity and shifting all $1,000 to it. Some of the most important options (and ones that should be readily available in your neighborhood as well as on-line) include:
____ Organic, locally grown food (Why? Reduce your exposure to pesticides.)
____ Energy-efficient appliances (Why? Help stop global warming.)
____ Phthalate-free cosmetics (Why? Protect your health.)
____ Fuel-efficient car or a really great bicycle (Why? Save energy, save money, reduce air pollution.)
____ Fair trade, shade grown coffee (Why? Protect rainforests and songbirds.)
____ Non-toxic cleansers (Why? Reduce indoor air pollution and limit your exposure to toxic chemicals.)
Alternatively, you can spread your spending among the variety of products and services that you need to manage your household, choosing as often as possible those that offer the greatest environmental benefits. You'll probably find that you'll end up shifting far more than the initial $1,000 you aim for. In fact, that’s the idea. You set a goal. It becomes a habit. And the more money you shift, the bigger impact you'll have. Talk about getting the biggest bang for your buck!
Note: I’m not encouraging you to buy more stuff you don’t need just because it’s “green.” And there’s no question that we need to continue to pass and enforce strong laws to protect our health and the environment. But it would be irresponsible not to use the most powerful tool available to us individually – our purse or our pocketbook — to make the world a better place.
So, set your goal. First, join the Big Green Purse One in a Million Campaign. Read how people like you have reached their goals. Then use this free balance sheet to get started yourself. When you reach your goal, let me know so I can brag about you.
And remember: It’s not how much you spend, it’s how you spend it.
Happy New Year!