“Less”

If you’re like me, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the distressing environmental news we’re hearing lately, from heatwaves to hurricanes to plastic in the oceans.  All symptoms of a planet straining under the burden of more and more humans consuming ever more resources of every kind, seemingly oblivious to physical limits and boundaries.  And through it all, we’re counselled to keep consuming, because it’s good for the economy.

So what to do?

One of the learnings from a leadership course I took years ago was this: true leadership means not being afraid to periodically challenge or question well-established processes, paradigms and beliefs.

So maybe it’s time to question an economy founded on ever more consumption, and reorient toward an economy founded on sustainability and happiness.

And maybe a first action step would be to simply try to consume less of everything – from gas to plastic to clothing to imported food.  For sure, the planet will benefit – but in all probability so will your wallet (and your mental health).

And two more things:

  • Read a great definition of minimalism here (and, interestingly, the long list of benefits doesn’t even include ‘saving the planet’!)
  • Check out Radical Simplicity and Your Money or Your Life, two great books about living happily on less

Consider buying carbon offsets

If you think being ‘carbon neutral’ means having to have an array of solar panels to run your home and charge your electric car, think again.  Carbon offsetting is a far simpler – and quicker – alternative.

Carbon offsetting involves compensating for the greenhouse gases you generate by voluntarily paying to reduce emissions elsewhere – for example, by helping fund the construction of renewable energy sources.  If you prevent the same amount of emissions elsewhere as you produce in your own life, you are technically ‘carbon neutral’ (because the planet only cares about total emissions, not where they come from).

For example, even though my own home draws electricity from the local power grid, I pay an additional small amount for every kilowatt-hour we consume, and that goes toward supplying more green energy into the grid.  So our home’s electricity is technically carbon neutral, even though we don’t have panels on the roof.  (My supplier is Bullfrog Power, a leading Canadian company – and it only took minutes to set up*.)

Sound complicated? It is, sort of – but this TVOntario article explains it well.

And – the principle of ‘buyer beware’ definitely applies to carbon offsets; there’s plenty of snake oil out there.  But this David Suzuki Foundation article offers great guidance on what to look for and what to avoid.

For the record: I do hope to eventually have my own solar panels.  But until that happens, a carbon offset is a pretty good alternative.

*I have no interests, financial or other, in the company.