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Economy versus Environment?

24 March 2009

So, you’ve heard about this whole recession thing, right?  In the midst of one of the worst economic downfalls in America’s history, a lot of people are questioning whether being “green” costs too much green to be practical or important.  In fact, the majority of Americans recently polled by Gallup agreed that economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.  Paired with dimished concerns about the effects of climate change, Gallup concludes;

There is little question that the current economic crisis poses a significant challenge for the environmental movement in this country.

This is certainly troubling for anyone who works in the environmental movement, but as someone who works in the energy efficiency movement, I find this completely baffling.  There is such a huge misconception that being “green” – living sustainably, environmentally conscious, whatever – is the domain only of white, middle and upper class Americans with more money than time and more time than most.  After all, the poster child of the green economy for the past few years has been the Toyota Prius – not exactly a cheap status symbol.

But what about energy efficiency? Through simple, easy actions – often cheap or FREE – American households could save hundreds of dollars a year while improving their impact on the planet and staying comfortable!  Regardless of age, income, ability, living situation or even belief in climate change, everyone can do something to reduce their energy use which helps save them money and reduces harmful pollution.  Look, actions as simple as washing all clothes in cold water, driving the speed limit and turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use can save the average Minnesota household over $300 a year – without costing a cent.

Through the Minnesota Energy Challenge over 19,800 households are pledging to reduce their energy use.  Some can only pledge to take a few actions; others have the time, ability and inclination to reach for the stars.  Together we are pledging to save over $14 million in energy costs every year. Imagine if 50,000, or 100,000, or a million households all took action.  The effect would be breathtaking.

You don’t have to choose between saving money and saving the planet.

:: Green, Inc., Gallup

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