Why do people fight the environmental movement?
Because they see it as a movement, that’s why.
How do you win over someone who thinks that “being green” is nothing but an annoying, touchy-feely, feel-good philosophy touted by a bunch of bleeding hearts and tree-huggers standing smugly in their pulpits?
A cantankerous uncle, perhaps. Maybe a high-schooler that feels “the whole save-the-Earth, go-green thing has become a trend that has to go” (that’s an actual quote from my local newspaper!).
This book is a good place to start.
David Bach is the bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire:A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich and Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner, as well as several other personal finance books.
I’ve read The Automatic Millionaire and found it to be practical and inspiring. In short, Bach recommends “paying yourself first”; setting aside a percentage of your income from an early age and allowing time, careful investing, and the power of compound interest do the rest.
Coining the now-familiar phrase “the latte factor”, Bach drives home the point that saving money is something anyone can do, no matter what their salary may be, and with little difficulty: those little dollars a day add up over time, and add up big.
It’s simple, it’s obvious, it’s proven, and very few people do it. Bach spends an entire book hammering away at this one point and ultimately changed the way I look at spending and saving.
So I was curious to see if he would prove as persuasive with Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying.
Go Green, Live Rich is an easy read, a fun flip-through, with lovely photography throughout. Each tip is a page or two long, highlights how much money can be saved by adopting it, and includes “Go Green Action Tips” for further reference. The list of 50 tips is fairly standard, beginning with Calculate Your Carbon Footprint, passing through old friends like Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and Grow Your Own.
There are tips like Take a Volunteer Vacation and Carbon Offsets; these are gathered into sections titled Make Green a Family Value and Give Green, it’s nice to see these emphasized.
The first indication that Go Green, Live Rich is a little different from your standard “beginner’s guide to green living” is the heading BECOMING A GREEN MILLIONAIRE ON A FEW DOLLARS A DAY.
Bach makes the valid point that many people believe that being eco-conscious is a choice affordable only to the affluent. Who wants to pay more for organic produce or recycled-content paper? Can someone who is most decidedly not wealthy, or even affluent, live a sustainable and environmentally-friendly lifestyle without going broke?
Well, we do it. On a plumber’s salary. But David Bach goes so far as to say that going green will make you rich.
First up is a redefining of what it means to be rich. Bach describes “living rich” in these terms:
“living a life in line with your deepest values is a gift we give ourselves every single day. There is peace in knowing that the houses we live in, the way we work and travel, and our daily habits are serving the planet, our true home, not destroying it.”
I made the same argument a while back on my book blog- which is being sorely neglected now that I’m reviewing books over here all the time- when I clumsily point out:
When we fix our beliefs firmly in our minds, and consciously apply those beliefs to our actions; when we stop living for tomorrow and instead look at our lives as a series of right nows; when every action consciously reflects what we believe, that’s living.
The second argument is more likely to appeal to your cantankerous uncle. It applies the same principles illustrated in The Automatic Millionaire.
Let’s say you make four changes in your life based on tips found in this book.
Annually, you could:
- Save $884 by improving your fuel economy.
- Save $129 on power by sealing air leaks in your home.
- Save $85 by turning your thermostat up or down by three degrees.
- Save $1,560 by packing your own lunch.
“That’s a total of $3,758 per year, or approximately $10 a day of green savings.
And here’s the best part: If you were to invest that $10 a day (instead of finding new things to spend it on), and you earn a 10 percent annual return(some of the green funds you’ll learn about later have earned far higher returns), in 30 years you would have….$678,146.
With just four of the tips in this book you could earn nearly $700,000 for your future, all while living a greener lifestyle today.”
If that isn’t persuasive, practical incentive for living an ecologically minded lifestyle, I don’t know what is.
For the purposes of The Blogging Bookworm:
I’d rate this book 5 out of 5 for the newly green or the not-yet green for its concise, practical, non-preachy treatment of living an ecologically responsible life from an unexpected (read: non-hippie) source.
I would also recommend that deeper greens give it a flip through, even though you’ve probably already seen, if not implemented, nearly all of these tips.
We have to keep in mind where we started, with CFLs and recycling. Our “green roots”, so to speak.
Remember that you didn’t always grow your own food, hang out your laundry, take navy showers, bake your own bread, write your state representative, raise chickens, heat your water with solar power, or whatever it is that you do.
It started with awareness, followed by one action. Then another, and another, and then a forever striving to do more.
Green bloggers often get caught up in green competitions, a la Ed Begley Jr and Bill Nye ( I will continue to link to this article until everyone has read it), which is great; these challenges provide encouragement and a sense of community, as well as motivation to stretch ourselves. But I think many of us began blogging as a way of saying, “I went green, and you can do it too.” Do your posts still carry this intention, reflect this encouragement?
Books like Go Green, Live Rich serve as a touchstone to our green beginnings, a reminder that a very important aspect of being ecologically responsible is to spread awareness in a way that is accessible and achievable.
The real wealth found in this book is in its attempts to spread eco-consciousness in a new and universal way.
What new ways can we, as individuals and as a blogging community, use to attract the not-yet green?
In what ways have you found success?
What are your thoughts on the ethics of “get rich” as a motivation to live sustainably?
Non-bloggers, not-yet greens, please chime in! What sort of information and inspiration do you look for? Your input is most valuable!