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February 21, 2017

Minimizing My Footprint Maximizes My Budget

The modern economy views the planet as something to exploit. Making money means taking something from the land, turning it into a product, and selling it. Producing more goods provides more jobs, which require us to buy more things in order to keep people employed. Buying is our civic duty, as it encourages growth and keeps the economy stable. More stuff gets made, and more resources get stripped from the planet.

In short, what’s good for business is bad for the environment, and vice versa.

However, the situation isn’t this clearcut. There is plenty of money to be made producing solar panels, wind turbines, and bigger batteries to store forms of renewable energy. Doing this work will improve the state of the planet compared to relying on fossil fuels. But taken out of this context, creating renewable technology still requires that we mine resources from the Earth.

I have not spent much time contemplating Economy vs Ecology. The concept only recently came to my attention during this week’s Unity service. But I have noticed a different relationship between money and the environment. One that doesn’t need all that much research to understand.

The more I do to give back to the environment, the more money I save.

In learning how to make my own laundry detergent and toothpaste, I’ve not only cut back on the number of plastic containers that pass through my home, I’ve reduced how much I spend on those products in a year. By limiting most of my diet to bulk bins and the produce aisles, I not only cut out all of the packaging found on the shelves in the center of the store, I also avoid many of the more expensive products. That’s not mentioning the dollars that remain in my pocket thanks to avoided temptation.

Shopping is only part of the equation. Owning fewer electronics and using less electricity results in a lower power bill. Taking shorter showers and not leaving the faucet running while brushing my teeth leads to a lower water bill. Walking more or biking would mean buying less gas, but I recently moved out to the country, making those options even less viable than they were in the suburbs. Nonetheless, the trend is clear.

Reducing how much I consume reduces how much I buy.

As someone who recently purchased a house and accepted a drop in income in order to spend my day taking care of our son, I’m looking for any way to cut costs. Turns out, caring about the environment is one of the best financial decisions I can make.

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