A few years ago, amidst my prolific, 30+ year money journey of empowering the generations to take charge of their financial lives, two common themes became clear. We live on one planet and we are inexorably connected via both economics and ecology. And, unless we are proactive in both realms, we will become a victim to both.
We have the power to influence our actions, positive and negative. As I have written time and time again, money doesn’t exist in a vacuum; its use (or misuse) is about values, relationships, choices, and self-esteem. We are globally linked through that use, like it or not. Economics makes the world truly flat. As such, my concept, The ECO-Effect™: The Greening Of Money, was born. Simply put, we must work together to be conscious of our scarce money (economics) and resources (ecology).
We all know the stats. The US and China are the richest nations when it comes to macro GDP. We, in the US, are the greatest global consumption offenders, but China will soon surpass us. What does this mean? It means that, if everyone lived like Americans, we would need over four Earths to sustain that lifestyle. According to the EPA, the average person in the US generates over 4.5 pounds of trash every day, creating more than 251 million tons of garbage each year. That is enough to fill Busch Stadium from top to bottom, twice a day. Think about this: recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod. Have you also heard of the plastic bottle islands springing up in the oceans, created from discarded water bottles?
Now what? How do you teach your offspring that we live in a global community in which products are grown, manufactured, and sold by someone and that we all share one planet to make that happen? We need to be conscious of our behavior. The ECO-Effect™ is a book and a website to help you raise our collective consciousness, be inclusive, and help you to take steps together with your family. I want to link the generations, corporations, towns and schools, nationally and internationally. The goal is to create a working dialogue, an ECHOING of ideas, questions and possible solutions. Most importantly, I want you and your next generations to take action. Whatever your financial circumstances, you helped to create that and whatever the ecological state of the world is, we helped to create that, too. It’s now time to take charge and change things.
Drop In. Don’t Drop Out.
Do what you can and don’t give up simply because the big picture seems overwhelming. Don’t fight about plastic or paper bags, but do help to bring awareness of the issues to your kids and grandkids, who are probably way ahead of you with regard to these issues. They actually may be the teachers; encourage them to bring ideas to you. Remember, action begins with raising consciousness about the issues—starting the ECHO.
ECO-Action Family Meeting
Plan a monthly meeting in order for your kids and grandkids to learn and practice setting goals, making decisions, researching information, solving problems, negotiating, brainstorming, arbitrating, thinking creatively in a group, budgeting resources and speaking in public.
ECO-Action Family Goal Statement
Create a statement about who you are and what you want to stand for as a family, with regard to saving money and saving the planet. It sounds daunting, but it is not. Any good corporate mission statement is built to be simple; frankly, if it is not, we would question if the leadership understands the purpose of their company.
Make it easy, and ask the kids for input, because it has to be a shared mission. Your home is the perfect starting point for both ECOnomic and ECOlogical lessons. Just as your ability to; earn, save, spend and share affects an economic cycle, your ability to reduce the use of fossils fuels, garbage production and pollution affects the ecological cycle. The family goal statement could be as easy as; “We, as a family, are committed to using our money in the ‘greenest’ way possible.”
Direct your kids to go room-by-room, searching for things that you and your family can do to contribute to a healthier family, a healthier planet and a healthier wallet. They will consider those things that affect the entire house—heating, cooling, electricity, and water. It will be great if they think of ways to rebuild your home or have you buy a new electric car, but the point is to also look at this exercise as if you are on a limited budget and want to take some easy steps to make a difference.
Some ideas could be; buy and switch out some old light bulbs with new Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent bulbs, shut off the lights when leaving a room, take shorter showers, stop running water while brushing your teeth, refrain from a conversation with the refrigerator door open, reset your thermostat to save on cooling and heating, seal drafty windows… you get the idea.
Your kids should make a list of all their ideas, research the cost of their ideas, and present their findings to the family at the next family meeting, so you all can agree on what to commit to do. Show the kids the bills each month so they can hopefully see their ECOnomic savings and also understand how they have contributed to their ECOlogical savings, as well.
Saving money and saving the planet will hopefully empower the whole family for an amazing ECO-Effect.
(reprinted from Forbes)