Elizabeth de Shong makes her living as a professional opera singer. But she's made "green living" a priority for herself and her family. To show her commitment, she joined the One in a Million Campaign, and so far has shifted more than $1,000 of her household income to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit. Here's her story:
Did you do this for a household of people or just yourself? My decision to join the Big Green Purse campaign helped solidify the commitment my husband and I made to making our home and lifestyle more "green".
What inspired you to make these changes? I love life. I really don't know how else to put it. After educating myself on topics like the climate crisis, factory farming, chemical hazards in cosmetics and cleaning products, etc., I realized Gandhi stated it best when he said "Be the change that you want to see in the world."
It is easy to sit back and complain that the government isn't doing its job (although, I'm feeling more hopeful about this now), that the problems are too big, or that someone else is to blame. If you have the knowledge and truly care about change, it is your responsibility to take action. It was hypocritical of me to claim to care about these issues and not "be the change." I had to take action and believe that my contribution would make a difference.
What surprised you – what was easy, what was hard? In the beginning stages, there were the tedious tasks of reading labels, researching companies, trying to remember to grab my canvas shopping bags, and hours spent online trying to find the best prices on "green" products.
The surprising thing was that it became extremely fun! There are so many wonderful small businesses that (because they don't have multi-million dollar marketing budgets) you never know are there until you seek them out. It is a wonderful feeling to know that your hard earned dollars are making a real difference in not only your own life, but the world. Also, as someone whose job requires a lot of travel, I'm more at ease knowing that I've created a safe and low-impact home base for my husband and pets. Now that the foundation has been built, I'm committed to using my diet as a means of change. When I travel, I eat vegan unless I am positive the meat/dairy/eggs I consume are organic, grass-finished, and preferably local.
What do you think the long-term impact of making these shifts will be for you and your lifestyle? Ultimately, my hope is that the principle of leading by example will encourage others to make positive changes in their own lives and together we will help make the world a cleaner, safer, healthier place for future generations.
Here's how Elizabeth shifted her spending:
“One in a Million” Balance Sheet
Date Item Money Spent
1/31/08 safe cosmetics & paper products $45
3/3/08 safe cosmetics $54
2/29/08 organic cotton clothes $45
3/4/08 everyday minerals make-up $65.74
3/15/08 everyday minerals make-up $33.56
2/20/08 Dr Bronner’s soaps $17
2/28/08 organic foods & cleaning items $70
3/28/08 safe cosmetics & organic food items $62.07
4/17/08 green cleaning & cosmetics products $52.12
5/27/08 safe cleaners & health products $45.36
5/27/08 safe cosmetics from BWC,Burt’s Bees $22.42
5/22/08 everyday minerals make-up $42
7/27/08 Green Forest paper products $15.73
11/30/08 everyday minerals makeup $60.14_
8/28/08 Kindle paperless, wireless reading device $359
1/21/09 Klean Kanteen water bottle $16.80
1/22/09 organic "Frey" wine $40
1/23/09 organic cotton "Oberlin" T-shirt $16
1/23/09 all natural cosmetics from vitacost $50.06
1/24/09 organic groceries from Trader Joes' $170
1/26/09 natural floor wipes by Wipex $12.72
Total ………………………………………………….………….. $ 1,294.72
Great job, Elizabeth!
Feeling inspired? Please join the One in a Million Campaign today and help use your spending power to create a cleaner, greener world.