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‘Going green’ has become a trendy thing to say – it’s a hot topic to discuss, we constantly hear about global warming, that we are destroying our environment, and how future generations will suffer because of our actions. But somehow, there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who just don’t care. Why is that? Is it because it’s a problem that none of us can fix by ourselves? Is it ‘too big’ of an issue? Is global warming a concern we look toward the government and legislature to fix? How is something so important not only to us, but our future generations, thrown by the wayside without a second thought by so many? Why don’t we go green? What’s holding you back?

I can’t afford it

This is one of the major issues holding a lot of people back from taking the ‘green’ plunge: Money (or lack there of). With the economy continuing to struggle, money is tight, stretching the dollar has become more important than ever – so drastically changing a habit is something people are reluctant to do, but the idea of not being able to afford a ‘greener lifestyle’ has been an issue long before the economy was on a downturn. We automatically label ‘organic’ foods as more expensive (and in many cases it’s true – but the health benefits typically outweigh the extra few cents your paying). We don’t want to pay the extra money to transfer our lighting to CFL lightbulbs (even though they last MUCH longer and will save you money on your electric bill). The up front ‘cost’ is greater, and this turns a lot of people away. Many of us get caught up in the short term costs and fail recognize the long term benefits.

It’s someone elses problem

Many of us were inspired by Obama’s promise of ‘Change We Can Believe In’ – but that change isn’t going to come from the top down. Yes, certain policies will (hopefully) bring positive change to our country, but the changes starts from within – it starts with the little people (ehem, that’s you and me). It’s a lot of people doing small things that will lead to big change, not the other way around. No one is going to enforce their will upon us to change our habits; we have to inspire that change in ourselves, and in turn get others on board. It’s absoutley imperitive that everyone understands that this is OUR problem and it’s up to ALL of us to make a few changes, even if it’s only a couple things, to see results. Start by reading ‘Going Green at Work’ - I offered 5 super easy tips that you can start today.

I don’t have time

For this I want to share a story from someone via Yahoo Answers that illustrates the point. I asked the question ‘Why don’t people go green?’ - here was one of the responses:

Area Woman says, “I was at an earth day fair telling families that they could pack their own “lunchables” at a fraction of the cost (and packaging) of “lunchables”. One mother yelled, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO MAKE LUNCH FOR THESE THREE!” while pointing at her three adorable little boys. I wondered how much time she spends on her butt watching TV and if she had any idea how many preservatives, trans-fats, and salt are in those crappy packaged lunches. If I had three cute little boys, I’d feed them nutritious food and be happy to do it.”

What this story does illustrate is the overall laziness of society in general. We want instant gratification, even if we pay a premium, the ‘time saving’ element is more important. This mindset will not change overnight – but if we start making more time for ourselves, start prioritizing, making lists to organize your daily tasks, maybe we would have more time available to make better decisions and save our planet. While many label society as label, there is also a drive and passion within all of us – we can be extremely motivated and when passionate about a cause or belief, the sky is the limit as to what we can do. But it starts with changing the mindset of ‘I don’t have time’ to ‘I will make time’.

I’ll be dead before any of this matters

It sounds morbid to put things into perspective like this, but it’s apparent that a lot of people do feel this way. Global warming may not effect us personally to an extent that we need to be worried – but it will have a dramatic impact on our children, grandchildren, and so on. As we pass on from generation to generation, global warming and our overall negative impact on the environment will only continue to grow – unless we realize that we can make changes now that will preserve our future generations. But what will motivate someone to change their way of thinking?

Return on Investment

I have always been an advocate of sustainable business practices and have met some awesome people who do great work and strive to preserve the environment around us. With that being said – I’m no environmentalist. This post is not a sermon written by a tree-loving woodsman. I’ve used most of the excuses I discussed above. But I do know what contributions I can make. I can see what is happening in the world around me, and I know that it all starts with me. Maybe it’s all about return on investment. Maybe it’s all about clear RESULTS. Noticing a difference in your electric bill by switching to CFL lightbulbs. Saving a little money (10 cents) at Starbucks by using your own travel mug, enjoying the local park a little more after gathering some friends together to clean up trash. People (in general) don’t like to do something for nothing, and changing habits takes time, added effort, and commitment. So maybe it takes clear, objective results for us to make the change – to realize that the problem may be bigger than you and me, but that a few small changes can produce real definable results. In the end, is it all about a return on investment?

The Next Step

Why don’t people go green? If you fall into that category, what’s holding you back?

I challenge all of you to make ONE change today, right now. Commit to something. Maybe you’ll start collecting paper throughout the day at work and putting it in the recycling bin before heading home. Maybe you’ll turn off the water while you brush your teeth, or open a window instead of turning on that lamp. Maybe you’ll continue educating yourself by reading through TreeHugger or signing up for Cool People Care’s 5 Minutes of Caring email. Whatever it is, put the excuses to rest and take the first step toward your own greener way of living, today. Share the one thing you’ve committed to below, and inspire others to join in!

Bonus: For each thing you commit to today (and write down here in the comments) you’ll receive 2 entries into the ‘Green Week’ contest where you can win free Cool People Care and WE ADD UP swag. Head over to the kickoff post to learn more about how to get involved in Green Week all week!

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About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.