There are dozens of ways to interpret “going green.” For some, this means purchasing sustainably produced products. For others, it means growing your own food or living off the grid. The one common thread through all interpretations of going green is being conscious of, and reducing, the environmental impact of your buying and living choices.
Reducing your consumption of packaging materials and other disposables, reusing them whenever possible, then recycling what you can’t reuse, reduces your contribution to the nation’s landfills--a definite “pro” in favor of going green.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency report, “Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2008,” Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash in 2008. Americans recycled or composted slightly more than 33 percent of this waste, and discarded 54 percent to landfills.
Some green products, like eco-friendly toiletries, organic produce or sustainably sourced wood furniture, cost more than non-green alternatives. Going green can be a balancing act between the satisfaction of eco-friendly purchases and what your pocketbook can afford.
On the other hand some green practices, like shopping at local farmer’s markets, buying groceries in bulk or purchasing used furniture instead of new, can save you money. Once you have footed the initial cost of installing a means of collecting alternative energy, such as solar panels, you may enjoy lower associated costs. To continue the example of solar panels, you might even be able to sell the surplus energy your solar panels generate back to the electrical company.
If you’re a business owner or executive, the extra cost of purchasing and using eco-friendly materials can cut into your profit margin. This includes not only large businesses and corporations but small businesses and farmers, too. Only you can decide whether the benefits of going green, and any potential business advantages, including the goodwill it generates from your customers or clients, outweigh the potential costs.
Small changes do add up. For example, according to the article “Everyday Environmentalist: Go Paperless,” published on the Nature Conservancy website, one out of five American households switching to paperless bills, statements and payments would decrease greenhouse emissions by 2 million tons. But such changes often go against long-entrenched life habits, and take some serious getting used to.