Why Simple Living is Green

simple living

I don’t remember exactly what enticed me toward green living. It might have been the PSAs on TV about conservation, or the growing number of eco-friendly tidbits popping up in my favorite magazines, or even Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I do remember when I started though – when my first son was born. The thought crossed my mind that my son would inherit a dirty planet, and that was heartbreaking.

Around the same time, I was reading books about how to simplify my increasingly chaotic life, and I was changed. I believe that simple living and green living go hand-in-hand. The “simpler” your lifestyle is, the more green it probably is. And if you’re a greenie, you’re probably following the first R, “reduce” anyways.  By default, you’re already living a simpler lifestyle than someone who isn’t green-minded.

An important part of modern simple living is to cut out all the unneeded “stuff,” and this will also reduce your ecological footprint. On a global scale, continued overconsumption of the world’s natural resources by wealthy nations means fewer resources for the world’s poor. Not only is this unjust, it’s unsustainable. The earth’s natural resources are limited, and ecosystems can only absorb so much pollution and lose so many species before the damage becomes irreparable. On an individual level, the endless pursuit of “more” is stressing out families who work and commute long hours to afford the big house in the suburbs and all the “must have” possessions. We have less time for the things we claim are the most important – our families, friends and hobbies.

Instead of expending all your efforts into paying for, storing and maintaining all your possessions, why not eliminate things that are unnecessary? I’m frequently asked “where do I start?”

My answer: Start at home, right now.

The simplest way to make your current home more efficient and clutter-free is to go back to basics: the 3 R’s. The first R is the most important: reduce. Reduce your possessions by eliminating the non-essentials and only keeping what you truly use and love. You don’t have to go minimalist overnight, so don’t go crazy thinking you have to do it all right away. The important part is to get started. The second R, reuse, is the next most important. Before you run to the store for every “I need,” take a look around and see what you already have that you can repurpose or “multipurpose” to get the job done. The third R, recycle, is your reminder to take care as you shed extra possessions and get rid of the excess responsibly. Sell or give away usable items to people who need them, and recycle as much of the rest as possible so that it doesn’t wind up in a landfill.

We do not inherit the earth from our parents – we borrow it from our children. Living a more sustainable, earth-friendly lifestyle is not about doing without – it’s about having enough. Simple, green living should be about what works for you and your family. If each of us do a little something every day, if we each make one small change in our lifestyle, the collective impact will be immense.

Photo Credit: Marissa Gawel
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