As a conservative, it’s often a shock to many that I think about being eco-friendly throughout each day. Despite the stereotype, conservatives can be some of the most eco-conscious when it comes to “everyday” decisions.
Well, whether it’s a love for the planet or a love for saving money, being eco-friendly accomplishes both.
Here are a few of my favorite, simple changes I’ve made in my personal life to benefit the planet and my wallet:
Buy “Made in America”
Buying products “Made in America” almost always helps the environment. Not only do you avoid emissions from shipping products internationally, but the products themselves are typically made from cleaner materials and cleaner energy sources. Whether you purchase items online or in person, you can quickly find out where the product is made. Although most of my consuming decisions aren’t specific to brands, I’ve really enjoyed American-made products like my bedding from The Company Store, ice trays from HuBee (for my iced tea addiction), and berries from Naturipe.
Say “no” to unnecessary items
How many times are we offered something wasteful that we don’t need? It happens nearly every day. And I’m not talking about that takeout container you get at a restaurant (that’s a separate conversation). If you’re eating takeout, you need a container. But do you need a plastic bag to hold the container? Usually not. Saying no to these unnecessary items is actually fairly easy — and might change the behavior of those around you, too!
Cut down on beef, pork, and water-intensive foods
People will always eat the foods they want. However, my decision to consume less beef — and more turkey, chicken, and seafood instead — makes a huge difference. Compared to eating beef, eating turkey, chicken, or seafood can decrease pollution that stems from your diet by more than 500%. While pork and lamb’s numbers aren’t as dramatic (comparatively), swapping turkey, seafood, or chicken for those meats still has a positive impact. I eat beef, pork, and lamb from time to time, but far less than before. Additionally, I have cut down on my consumption of nuts, which, surprisingly, take more water to produce than most meats! It’s not about perfection or an overhaul of my diet; it’s about being conscious of my consumption without stressing about it.
Food waste and composting
One of the most important things we can do is work together to decrease food waste. In fact, somewhere between 8–10% of human-related emissions worldwide are due to food waste. Food is one of the great uniters, and we can all do our part by ordering more reasonably sized meals, wasting fewer groceries, and advocating for composting services in our communities.
Becoming more fuel efficient
Like most people, I don’t own an electric car (not yet, at least). City driving is one of the most inefficient ways to get around, but many people, including myself, still need to rely on it. We can watch our driving habits to decrease the miles per gallon on our drives. Whether it’s accelerating slower, using cruise control, or coasting down an incline instead of putting our foot on the gas, small changes can increase the efficiency of driving substantially.
None of these changes have raised prices for me. In fact, doing all of these simple swaps actually has saved me money.
We all contribute to climate change — and we can all take small steps in the right direction that save money, improve our lives, and protect our planet. One single decision might not make a huge difference, but the collective impact of all of our decisions taken together does.
Benji Backer is the President and Founder of the American Conservation Coalition, the nation’s largest right-of-center environmental organization. Benji is also a contributor to The Cool Down, the first mainstream climate brand.