Today’s guest post is from Mom, fitness enthusiast, avid traveler, and blogger, Adana Lima. Adana also represents a powerful group when it comes to sustainable living, green lifestyle, and the transformation of our thinking in the 21st Century; she’s a consumer.
And that’s what this piece is really about. How do your buying habits affect the course of history when it come to the health of our planet?
Take a look, and see …
The planet may be in deep trouble, but ‘Saving the World’ is a job title that all too few individuals feel qualified, or motivated, to apply for. Most of us are still waiting around, for an eco-superhero to step forward, and get the job done on our behalf; hopefully before supper. Unfortunately, it looks like the politicians, unlikely superheroes as they were, have already flunked that one. So is there anyone else ready to step up to the plate?
Well, we all know of eco-warriors, with impeccable green credentials, who have been able to slough off the trappings of modern life – and take things back to an enviable simplicity. But, commendable as it is to retreat to a wood cabin, throw away the car keys and subsist, at one with nature, there are a couple of subtle flaws with that strategy.
First of all, it seems unlikely the planet could cope with 6 billion people going back to basics, living off of the land in a post-industrial utopia. And secondly, we’re just too darned lazy. Well, maybe not lazy exactly, just a little too used to a life of relative comfort and ease – it’s only human nature not to want to throw that comfort into the recycling bin. We’re only likely to do that if the catastrophe comes a-knocking on the door, right here and now.
But global warming seems likely to be a slow death by a thousand cuts. And the human mind has depressingly narrow horizons. After all, the warnings of future doom have, so far, only budged us marginally towards a more sustainable future.
So, planet doomed? Not necessarily.
Buy (or decide not to buy) Your Way To A Better World
Just as the end may come by a thousand cuts, so the salvation could come from a hundred thousand small steps forward. There is much about the modern lifestyle which is commendable, as well as that which is wasteful and risky. It is entirely possible that we can ease our way towards keeping the relative comforts of 21st century life, whilst ejecting it’s needless waste, pollution, gross materialism – and so save the day in the end.
In fact, all of us actually have the means to do this – and it’s tucked in our wallets. A victory for the planet could be won, in part, from the humble credit card. Because one thing everyone does, every day, is to make purchasing choices. That power of choosing should really be seen as our way of voting, for the future that we want to see for ourselves, and for our kids. Whether it’s choosing organic food, furniture, or a new computer – all of these decisions can funnel your dollar to those causes, and policy changes, that you want – and stop the politicians from scuffing up the equation.
And being more eco-aware with your purchases isn’t small beer. The sum of all of the food, clothing and personal products, and services, adds up to some 35% of the typical Western household emission tally. That’s because all of these products and services have ‘embedded’ emissions associated with them – those greenhouse gases that are produced to make or provide them. If you were to buy even a fraction of your goods and service, with emissions in mind, this would push the eco-awareness to suppliers too. Pressure to reduce emissions would become a goal of most businesses. In fact this consumer pressure is already starting to bear fruit, with more and more corporates striving to promote their ‘zero emission’ goals.
The biggest impact you can make, however, comes from your direct emissions- from your car and your home. These make for two of the largest slices of your personal carbon emissions, at 17% for your choice and use of a car, and 27% for the heating and powering your home. In many US states, there are options to switch to emissions-free power utilities- where between 50% and 100% of your electricity can come from renewable sources. All that is required is a phone call to arrange the transfer.
Equally, low lifestyle impact changes are available for car drivers. If you were to purchase a hybrid car, and make efforts to drive more sustainably, it’s entirely feasible to cut your emissions from car-driving by up to 50%. And that’s even before you have to think about more strenuous lifestyle adaptations, like Lycra for riding a bike to work.
So as you can see, there are more options for changing the world than despair, or a retreat to the stone-age. The more people take their consumer power, and use it for good, the quicker the change will come about. Of course, for things to happen quickly, a little carrot and stick from the government would make a huge difference. But that is no excuse for in-action. Those consumers leading from the front, in showing that a green-lifestyle is not a no-style choice, will be helping spread the ripples of a radical transformation – and every right to consider themselves the new superheroes.
Adana Lima is a stay at home mom with 3 cute kids (Jamie, Pablo, Guerrero) who writes on the topic of adjustable dumbbells.
Among other publications, Adana has been a guest blogger at sustainablog on the subject of how to reduce your carbon footprint.