Barriers to Being Green

There is a difference between being a green consumer and being a green citizen. Though it is usually financial constraints that hold many families back from being green consumers, it does not cost much more than a change in habits to become a green citizen.

The Difference Between Green Consumers and Green Citizens

Green consumers are individuals who only purchase environmentally friendly goods and services; they prefer products labelled as being fair trade or organic, and are willing to pay more for these. Green citizens on the other hand are people who actually live an environmentally aware life; they attempt to adjust to a sustainable lifestyle by introducing green products and modifications into their homes and behavior, without any costly outlays.

A common misconception is that green buildings are more expensive, but it is always important to measure the costs of Eco-friendly modifications against the lifetime savings they will result in. A study done in 2009 determined that a green building cost approximately $4 more, per square foot, than a building without similar environmental standards. The study went on to determine that green buildings save around 63 cents per square foot in electricity costs alone, resulting in a building lifetime saving of $67 per square foot.

Dollar Friendly Upgrades

Making environmentally friendly modifications to your home does not require a big budget, or even any construction. There are many small adjustments you can make that will easily fit into your lifestyle and your wallet.

  • Replace your old appliances with ENERGY STAR™  rated models. Start with refrigerators older than 1991, before replacing your dishwasher and your washer/dryer.
  • Move your refrigerator away from your oven.
  • Install occupancy sensors in any rooms where lights are frequently left on even when the room is empty. This alone can result in a saving on your electricity bill of up to 45 percent.
  • If your home has a thermostat, replace it with an ENERGY STAR™  programmed model, which could save you $180 a year on the heating bill.
  • Replace single pane windows with double-glazed windows. Caulk all windows and exterior doors to reduce air leakage.
  • Use smart power strips for all your electronics and other appliances that are always plugged in. This can save you up to 10 percent on power consumption.
  • Buy recycled toilet paper, and start using reusable cloths instead of paper towels to clean around the house. The average household uses 6 rolls of paper towels a month, but by switching to reusable cloths you could reduce this to only one roll a month.
  • Switch to rechargeable batteries which can be used and recharged hundreds of times before they need to be replaced.
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible. This reduces the number of times you need to use your car, which equals less fuel and lower carbon emissions. Bulk purchases can also result in a saving on the cost of the item itself.
  • Buy your fresh produce at your local farmer’s market. You could easily end up paying less than at your local grocer, and you are also reinvesting in your local economy.
  • Start cycling instead of using your car whenever you can, either to work, or when running simple errands.

Becoming a green citizen is not only about changes to your home and buying habits, it is also about changing your mindset. This will allow you to identify opportunities for change all around you, creating an even bigger impact. Spend more time outdoors being more aware of nature and your environment, and don’t only see the changes to your lifestyle as benefiting the environment. The changes will also benefit you.

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