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Even in with our staggering economy, Americans are still managing to consume more than ever. In the effort to live green, it’s important to take personal responsibility in terms of the types of goods we consume. This ecological approach to economics is vital to establishing a green and sustainable future for both our global ecosystems and economy.
• Live simply. Before every purchase, ask yourself if you really need the item. As hard as it can be to pull yourself away from the latest shoes or newest cell phone model, you’ll probably find it surprisingly empowering and freeing to stick with what you already have.
• Rent, borrow or trade. You can greatly reduce your personal consumption and save money by renting or borrowing items that you only need temporarily. You’d be surprised at what might be available at your local rental agency. Also, the local library is great for books, DVDs and magazines. Don’t ever be afraid to call on close friends or family to give and take these items you rarely use. After all, that’s what family is for!
• Recycle or reuse old building materials and supplies. It’s so disheartening to see home renovators rip out perfectly good windows, cabinets, tiles, doors and appliances and toss them in the dumpster. Local Habitat for Humanity chapters graciously accept these building materials to re-sell in effort to raise money to build homes for the poor. Also, if you are renovating, check out your local phonebook to see if there is building materials re-sale store near you.
• Find eco-friendly businesses. The National Green Pages from Co-Op America offers a list of environmentally friendly businesses. A little research on most businesses will turn up valuable information about what they are doing (or not doing) about environmental protection and human rights.
• Stop junk mail. Request that your name be taken off of mailing lists. Banks and credit card companies are the most notorious for needless junk mail.
• Green investments. Investigate socially responsible and environmentally friendly mutual funds for your personal investments. Also, if you are planning on purchasing new stock, check out green businesses. If you’re not sure where to start, just ask your financial advisor.
There you have it – some easy and not-so-easy strategies for becoming a responsible consumer. Always remember that living green goes beyond efficient light bulbs and walking to work. It means personal investment, responsibility and accountability when it comes the purchases you make.