The biggest complaint I hear from people about going green is that there is some kind of sacrifice or negative lifestyle change involved in doing so. For some reason, many people have become convinced that living in a more eco-friendly fashion will somehow disrupt the way they currently live their life and require monumental changes in their daily routines. I am not sure where this idea came from or how it got started, but in reality the changes we can all make in our life to live a little more sustainably can actually improve the quality of our lives and that of those around us. If everyone took a moment to learn the facts rather than buying into the “environmentalists will destroy your American lifestyle” meme spouted by some TV and media networks, we would all see that any and all “green” changes are not sacrifices at all; rather they are changes that could make life better for everyone here on earth. To help combat this kind of misinformation, let’s take a look at some of the things we “greenies” think everyone should “sacrifice” for and why only good can come each one of them.
Changing To More Efficient Light Bulbs – The first thing anyone says when you suggest switching to CFL or LED bulbs is about how expensive they are. The second thing anyone says is that they are deadly and toxic. However, you and I know the truth, and that is that neither one is true at all. CFL bulbs have come way down in price as of late and LED’s are following suite. If they cost a few dimes more than their incandescent counterparts, it’s because they last 10 times longer and use just 25% of the electricity. Lower utility bills, less bulb purchases, and less emissions from the coal plants don’t sound like sacrifices to me. And the mercury thing? CFL’s do indeed have mercury in them and as responsible adults we need to dispose of them properly. But the mercury levels are minute compared to the mercury spewing into our air from coal power plants working to create the energy necessary to power all those incandescent bulbs. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent bulb with a single CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes. That would prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of about 800,000 cars. Not a sacrifice.
Buying More Organic Foods – Organic food used to cost a lot more than conventionally-grown food, I will give you that. But those days are long gone and the prices are much closer than ever before, especially with the number of local farmer’s markets growing exponentially each year. And the more people who purchase organic foods the cheaper they will become for everyone; it’s how the market works. And while organic food is better for you and your body, potentially leading to lower medical bills in the future, the growing of organic foods is better for the planet, the farmers, and the people who pick, package, and ship it to you as well. The pesticides and fertilizers used in conventionally grown foods are toxic and dangerous, so giving them up isn’t exactly a change anyone can say is detrimental to their lifestyle. Not a sacrifice.
Making Your Home More Energy Efficient – Even if you aren’t in the market for new appliances, for a few bucks you can make your home more energy efficient for just a little effort and/or a few dollars. Buy weatherstripping for your doors and windows at $5 a roll. Clean your refrigerator coils. Insulate your water heater and pipes. Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot. Install sink water aerators. Purchase a programable thermostat. All of these things have minimal costs but large rewards for your wallet and the environment. Not a sacrifice.
Switching To Safer Skincare Products – Nothing says clean like a bottle of soap full of toxic, cancer-causing ingredients, right? From the way that products are marketed and sold to us, you would think that pouring bleach all over yourself is the best way to keep clean. Safe, nontoxic skincare products are available in almost every retailer and more often than not for only a dollar more than the standards we have used forever. However, those standards are full of ingredients such as parabens (which mimics the hormone estrogen), BHT (linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, allergies, and neurotoxicity), and triclosan (which breaks down into dioxins), all of which don’t exactly help your body get “clean” in the truest sense of the word. By switching to natural, nontoxic skincare products we help to keep our bodies healthy while also reducing the amount of chemicals released into our water treatment plants and groundwater. Not a sacrifice.
Buying toilet paper made from recycled paper instead of freshly cut trees. Unplugging your appliances when they are not in use. Buying nontoxic paint instead of toxic paint. Stop buying bottled water. Where exactly is the sacrifice in lifestyle that comes with making these changes? They save money, they save energy, they reduce demands on power plants, they clean up the environment, they leave a better planet behind for those who come after. Where’s the sacrifice?
What kind of sacrifice is being asked of or is made by trying to live a more eco-friendly life? I can’t name a single one. No one, and I do mean no one, is telling anyone to give up the car and live in a cave without heat. Let’s forget the hype that some off-the-wall pundits like to scare us with and get real — there are no sacrifices here, only gains for everyone.
Photo by marcusrg