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Benefits of environmentalism

The other day, I painted a bleak picture of the reality of true environmental responsibility being more expensive and less convenient, in general, than our current lifestyle. But it’s not always that way, and there are a lot of benefits.

You may not be able to own a house, or you may need to compromise on some of your “requirements” and get a smaller one. And while your parents or grandparents may have been able to afford vacation homes, you probably won’t. But look at the massive amounts of time and money that go into maintaining a home (or two). How many rooms do you have now? How much time does it take you each week to keep the place clean? How much do you enjoy doing that? And how clean does it end up being?

In reality, if you’re in or a near a big city, you’ll probably be renting for a while. But that’s not so bad, either. Isn’t it nice not to shovel snow in the winter or mow the lawn in the summer? When was the last time you had to worry about how expensive it’ll be to repair the roof? And have you ever had to move when owning your property? It’s a lot more complicated and potentially a lot more expensive (especially now). As a renter, you don’t need to care that the real estate market is crashing or your neighborhood’s land values are decreasing or the furnace needs an expensive repair. If the building falls apart, you can just not renew your lease and go somewhere better. The owner’s stuck with it.

You’ll probably need to make do with less stuff. But stuff sucks. The more stuff you have, the more space it takes up, the more you have to dust, the more you can lose, and the more you have to pack if you want to move. Your stuff weighs you down. Life is generally easier with less stuff.

Meat production is incredibly energy-inefficient, so it’s environmentally responsible to eat less (or no) meat. Read this. Generally, we should be eating more plants: a lot of leaves, stems, and roots, and moderate quantities of fruits, nuts, and seeds. These should replace large quantities of the meats, oils, sugars, and processed starches that constitute most of the modern western diet. In addition to being more environmentally and ethically responsible, this also makes people much healthier and happier, which drives health-care costs down and dramatically improves (and prolongs) lives.

By using your feet or mass-transit for much or all of your transportation, you save (literally) tons of wasted resources in automobile production, operation, maintenance, and disposal. Walking and biking are also great exercise, making you healthier and happier. And you save a lot of time, money, and frustration by not using your car and sitting in traffic every day. Even if it makes sense to keep a car for occasional use (travel, shopping, etc.), you’ll save dramatically on fuel and maintenance costs by not using it in your everyday commute (or using it for a much shorter distance), and it’s likely to last much longer.

There are tons of other benefits to an environmentally responsible lifestyle. What am I forgetting?