Saturday, January 8, 2011

Small change large dividends

What if everybody did it?

I am awake now (I like to think), but there was a time when I, and apparently everyone on America’s roadways, were sound asleep to the effect of unconscious consumerism on our beautiful multicolored planet. For example, are you old enough to remember the litter epidemic? At the time it seemed that everyone who rode in a vehicle powered by internal combustion threw all their trash and garbage out the window as they sailed along faster that human beings were designed to move.

The trash was ‘out of sight out of mind’ – that is until it started to accrue enough. Before long all of our roadways started to look like landfills. People woke up to it. The litter bag was invented. Anti-littering laws were enacted complete with threatening official slogans like “Don’t mess with Texas”. The media took up the issue in a big way. And, little by little, the problem was reversed. The problem was established, and then reversed, one fast food cup, box, or bag at a time. It is now a cultural norm NOT to litter. Awareness, attention, effort, and peer pressure did the trick.

We found out what would happen if everybody littered – and we found out what would happen if everybody didn’t.

Now that we know the formula for change, there are plenty other epidemics around (derived from unconscious consumerism) that we can go to work on. Some of them are actually quite threatening economically or environmentally or both. A good place to start is a little book I recently discovered by an author who obviously understands some things about personal human motivation.

I like to support friends of the earth who have good ideas that need to be known and practiced by everyone. Author Elizabeth Rogers is one such person. Her book, [Shift Your Habit], is one of the more important books of our time. It combines the attraction of saving the planet with the attraction of saving money. Further, it does so by encouraging readers to make small, almost effortless daily changes which have a large effect over time. Here’s some copy from her website that explains effective green living.

“Going green doesn’t mean spending big bucks on organic food, solar panels, and hybrid cars. At its core, green living is simply about moderation, efficiency, and, believe it or not, living less expensively. Shift Your Habit shows you how to make the eco-friendly changes to your lifestyle that will do the most to benefit the planet and your budget.

Included are hundreds of habit-shifting suggestions that will leave you with thousands of dollars you thought you’d never see again. These are tiny modifications that any family can make…and some already have. In Shift Your Habit you’ll meet fifteen families who can testify to just how simple shifting can be and how much money can be saved.

Shift Your Habit pinpoints small tweaks that can lead to huge personal and planetary rewards.
Every shift counts, and with numbers like these, it’s easy to see just how much.” (

Shift Your Habit offers solutions to expensive and environmentally unfriendly habits in the areas of home and garden, food and drink, kids, pets, work, electronics and entertainment, health, beauty and fashion, transportation and travel, and, holidays and celebrations.

We are all, to one degree or another, involved in a cultural addiction to over-consumption. And, we are all similarly engaged in a process of improvement over time whether we are aware of it right now or not. We are slimming down, picking up, finding better ways, creating green markets, and eating whole foods. As being green and becoming conscious of our environmental impact becomes the norm, the cost of doing so will diminish in a competitive market.

So, consider getting a copy of Elizabeth Rogers’ book Shift Your Habit and start making some small changes in your consuming practices. It will have a large payoff both personally and economically over time.


LaChance, A. J. (2006). Cultural addiction: The greenspirit guide to recovery. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Rogers, E. (2010). Shift Your Habit: Easy ways to save money, simplify your life, and save the planet. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

1 comment:

  1. Tough to get a comment around here! :) Anyone have any tips or comments about how to be greener?