Looking to begin a green living lifestyle, but not sure where to start? Well, putting a theory into action requires a plan, my friend, so we’re here to help! No longer will you resign yourself to the standard green regimen! No, you want to make a bolder statement about how to live in harmony with the planet. Let’s get planning with these 4 simple steps.
1) Make a List of the Issues Most Important to You
It’s easy to fall into generic convictions regarding environmental matters, so it’s important to distill your overall ambiguity into a concrete set of points upon which you can build your plan.
For example, if you’re concerned with land management, you may find that reducing consumer waste and resource extraction are good issues to target. In other words, realize you can’t do it all at once and start with what excites you.
2) Identify How Your Choices Impact Those Important Issues
Now that you have a list of actionable issues, it’s time to examine how your regular life choices relate to these points. Take an honest look at your daily routine, your spending patterns, and your overall lifestyle.
In many ways, this is the most difficult part of the planning process, as it requires you to critically examine how you live your life and, for most of us, the things we enjoy the most may come under the most scrutiny. In my case, I love a well-lit home, so how I use energy to power light bulbs weighs on my mind as I consider the impact of my choices.
3) Investigate Your Options
Now it’s time to come up with some solution sets. As you begin your seemingly endless dive into the abyss of the Internet (because there are plenty of good AND terrible answers available), compile a list of both simple and complex approaches to address those less-than-green aspects of your life.
One common problem people encounter with any lifestyle change is going too big, too fast. Instead, opt for easy-to-execute ideas in the beginning, and let momentum build from there.
4) Crunch the Numbers and Set Realistic Goals
We all have grand plans, but our expectations are often tempered by our budgets and habits. Look at your new list of actionable ideas and decide which of them you can afford on a practical level, as well as which of them you are likely to stick to – especially early on. Success builds enthusiasm and momentum, so start with those ideas that are realistic for your life. By no means should you banish those ideas that are less than realistic for today; instead, make them goals for the future.
For example, when I first set out to clean up and “green up” our home, I wanted to install living walls outside, swap out all of our light bulbs for more efficient options, and replace our hot water tank with an on-demand water heater. Somehow all at once! And that’s just a few of the ideas I had for our home and lifestyle.
But even as a stay-at-home dad, the budget to dive right in to these massive fixes simply didn’t exist. I had to come to terms with the idea that I could only do so much today, and that going green was a process, not a one-time fix. Once I understood this concept, not only did I make peace with the situation, I also began making progress.
Making a change to green living isn’t easy, but it is rewarding, and as Hannibal Smith from the A-Team always said, “I love it when a plan comes together!”