The lifestyle choices we make impact the quality of our lives, of the environment, and of the world we create for future generations. We can make a difference by: making informed choices as consumers, preventing waste and pollution, and creating more sustainable yards, homes, and workplaces.
You are probably doing many things already, such as recycling, adjusting your thermostat, and keeping your vehicle in good running condition. We applaud your commitment. Your cumulative efforts are helping to conserve farmlands, forests, wetlands, and oceans. We act based on our values, but our choices are influenced by our affluence. Do you consider yourself affluent? In relation to much of the world, Americans are well off. We comprise about 5% of the world population, yet use 1/3 of the planet's resources. The average American produces twice as much waste as the average European.
Through advertising and the media, people are encouraged to want what they don't need. This strategy fuels markets, but resources are not infinite and cannot provide for unsustainable consumption.
For those who have enough for survival and comforts, quality of life means having time for what matters most: family, friends, meaningful work, leisure, healthy living, community, spirituality, learning, thinking, creating, enjoying beautiful wild places; whatever you value. Is our affluence, in some ways, distracting us from deeper, non-material sources of fulfillment? By simplifying the material side of life, we find time to cultivate happiness. The more things we have, the more it costs in terms of money, maintenance, space, and ultimately, our valuable time. If you feel trapped in a cycle of work-and spend, consider this: Money not spent equals resources conserved, in terms of both human work hours and natural resources.