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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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Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Like many people, I think I *try* to be more socially and green conscious, but it becomes really hard when for all your small efforts, you see some MAJORLY irresponsible waste going on.

    The best thing I’ve been able to do is advocate the replacement of styrofoam cups with paper at my current place of work. I know… Reusable cups or bottles would be best, but not everyone uses them.

    It’s funny (or sad), in my MBA interviews, one of the top schools asked: “Do you know what the hottest topic is for MBAs?” The answer: Sustainability. The problem: No one really knows what that means or how that will manifest in our studies or work place attitudes or practices.

    Reply
  2. Like many people, I think I *try* to be more socially and green conscious, but it becomes really hard when for all your small efforts, you see some MAJORLY irresponsible waste going on.

    The best thing I’ve been able to do is advocate the replacement of styrofoam cups with paper at my current place of work. I know… Reusable cups or bottles would be best, but not everyone uses them.

    It’s funny (or sad), in my MBA interviews, one of the top schools asked: “Do you know what the hottest topic is for MBAs?” The answer: Sustainability. The problem: No one really knows what that means or how that will manifest in our studies or work place attitudes or practices.

    Reply
  3. Habit. Habit is a really hard thing to overcome – people can say they want to “go green” but at the end of they day they will continue to do what they’ve always done – and that means not recycling, or buying green, or whatever it is they think of. That’s not necessarily laziness though.

    A good approach wouldn’t be do “go green” in one fell swoop, but to slowly adopt “green” practice. Habit is hard to overcome and too much change all at once is harder to maintain. In a way, “going green” is like making a New Years resolution and each individual needs to find the ways that will keep them going rather than giving up after a few weeks.

    Additionally, “Going Green” requires research – where to buy alternative products, which once are actually good, understanding that not everything labled “organic” is. Ultimatly it’s just not a process that can be made when you wake-up in the morning – it takes time to impliment and more time to see an effect. People seem to be very reluctant to do anything that isn’t easy and doesn’t show an immediate change.

    Reply
  4. Habit. Habit is a really hard thing to overcome – people can say they want to “go green” but at the end of they day they will continue to do what they’ve always done – and that means not recycling, or buying green, or whatever it is they think of. That’s not necessarily laziness though.

    A good approach wouldn’t be do “go green” in one fell swoop, but to slowly adopt “green” practice. Habit is hard to overcome and too much change all at once is harder to maintain. In a way, “going green” is like making a New Years resolution and each individual needs to find the ways that will keep them going rather than giving up after a few weeks.

    Additionally, “Going Green” requires research – where to buy alternative products, which once are actually good, understanding that not everything labled “organic” is. Ultimatly it’s just not a process that can be made when you wake-up in the morning – it takes time to impliment and more time to see an effect. People seem to be very reluctant to do anything that isn’t easy and doesn’t show an immediate change.

    Reply
  5. Hey Christina! Thanks for the comment (and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply). You really touch on a key point here – the idea that people are reluctant to do anything if there are no immediate results. We can recycle all we want, but there are millions of other people who don’t and probably never will – so why should we go out of our way to do something that will, in our minds, have virtually no impact?

    Unfortunately, that is the state of mind society is in, and has gotten used to. All I can say is that it takes people changing – establishing new habits, and encouraging others to do the same. A spark can start a fire – and it’s not about a life-overhaul, rather, it’s about gradually introducing new practices into your life. Small changes add up to big results!

    Reply
  6. Ask Everett Rogers… not literally since he is passed, but his DOI theory should provide some good insight…

    Reply
  7. Ask Everett Rogers… not literally since he is passed, but his DOI theory should provide some good insight…

    Reply
  8. OK first of all this story about the mom saying I can not pack lunch,,,UNFAIR to ask how much she spends on her butt watching t.v., you have NO ideal about her life, if she works a full time job or goes to school OR BOTH. She may sit on her butt, but who does not deserve DOWN time. We just cant go all the time and unless you have more than two children you just dont know anything about it. I have four boys go to school double time (meaning 16 classes a year) and I work 30-50 hours a week depending the time of year. YEA me packing lunch is JUST not gonna happen. I pack mine and my husbands lunch and they are lucky the house is clean and dinner is cooked because by the time my day is done and I can sit I am exhausted… I DO agree that the whole WORLD needs to change its thinking. But what the consumer buys is not where it needs to start. It needs to start with power companies, oil companies. lumber companies and their ilk. Yeah it may help a little but its not enough, at this point we need a whole over haul..

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  10. Josh (thanks for the comment). It seems like it is a topic a lot of people think about, but no one really acts on (I’m guilty of this). I think if more people practiced what they preached, we would see more trends catching on. I really think most of it comes down to laziness. People are reluctant to change their routines, society values structure – and to a lot of people, change = stress. The difficult task is getting people into the mindset that change = good. Global warming is something that may not impact you and me, but somewhere down the line, the **** will hit the fan, and maybe it won’t be until then that people wake up. Sustainable business IS the future – most young entrepreneurs see that. I think Generation-Y recognizes that, but the vast majority of the population hasn’t jumped on board. Why do you think people are reluctant to ‘go green’?

    Reply
  11. Josh (thanks for the comment). It seems like it is a topic a lot of people think about, but no one really acts on (I’m guilty of this). I think if more people practiced what they preached, we would see more trends catching on. I really think most of it comes down to laziness. People are reluctant to change their routines, society values structure – and to a lot of people, change = stress. The difficult task is getting people into the mindset that change = good. Global warming is something that may not impact you and me, but somewhere down the line, the **** will hit the fan, and maybe it won’t be until then that people wake up. Sustainable business IS the future – most young entrepreneurs see that. I think Generation-Y recognizes that, but the vast majority of the population hasn’t jumped on board. Why do you think people are reluctant to ‘go green’?

    Reply
  12. Hey Christina! Thanks for the comment (and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply). You really touch on a key point here – the idea that people are reluctant to do anything if there are no immediate results. We can recycle all we want, but there are millions of other people who don’t and probably never will – so why should we go out of our way to do something that will, in our minds, have virtually no impact?

    Unfortunately, that is the state of mind society is in, and has gotten used to. All I can say is that it takes people changing – establishing new habits, and encouraging others to do the same. A spark can start a fire – and it’s not about a life-overhaul, rather, it’s about gradually introducing new practices into your life. Small changes add up to big results!

    Reply

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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. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

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