Sometimes it helps to put a face on economic statistics, so let’s look at a typical American family, calling them Bob and Mary Conserver. Bob and Mary Conserver earn $63,000 a year, the typical family income. Like millions of Americans, Bob and Mary Conserver have seen their earning power erode and are struggling to find their way to higher financial ground.
Bob and Mary both work but still have trouble making ends meet. They’ve already slashed their latte budget and eating out means ordering in Domino’s at most. They have debt up to their ears and refinancing their way out is no longer an option. They are ready for a change but not sure what’s next. They are ready to take on the challenge of building more sustainable lives.
Millions of people like the Conservers don’t have to be at the mercy of the economic tide. They can take charge of their lives to improve their financial well being and quality of life as well by joining the Conserver Economy. The Conserver Economy is green in many respects, emphasizing the careful use of resources, even if the motivation is more about saving money than saving polar bears.
Change can be hard. Once people take a few steps forward to save money, they’ll often lapse back into old habits. Here are three strategies to get your started in the Conserver Economy, and a way to help you maintain the path:
Raised in the consumer economy, we often feel like we need to have every new gizmo or fashion, wasting $1000s every year buying things that soon sit in boxes and closets after the shopping buzz has worn off. An alternative to buying is sharing. Sharing can be as simple as knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking to use a tool or sharing a ride to the store. More sites like Zipcar and PickupPal are popping up in populated areas helping people connect and have access to cars without the cost of having a car sit in the driveway.
Like swapping, renting is another strategy to get what we want and need without having the goods and debts pile up. You can rent (or lease) everything from books, to solar panels (SolarCity) and purses (BagBorroworSteal), instead of spending the money to purchase items.
How big of a car do we need? How big of a house do we want? What does it mean to live well? Out of necessity, people like the Conservers are reconsidering what it means to live well. There is a move away from McMansions, as people rethink their homes as part of their changing life priorities. The Not So Big House is part of their Not So Big Life, as described by author and architect Sarah Susanka. There is a move toward reconnecting with communities rather than withdrawing.
We are also finding creative ways to live well for less. Our homes waste $ billions on energy every year, money that can be easily saved with simple energy efficiency training. With the typical home like the Conservers’ spending about $1500 – $2000 a year on energy, the potential for saving can be significant, even with relatively simple steps that are often missed.
If these trends make sense to you, addressing your everyday priorities like paying the bills without being consumed by them, maybe you are a Conserver too. Building a better tomorrow is a challenge, but isn’t it one worth taking? These Steps are just the beginning though. We have to come together and help each other, build support for each other to maintain the Conserver Economy. Starting with easy steps like these and those found in The Home Sustainable Challenge, you can take actions in your own home that lead to sounder finances, a healthy environment, and stronger communities. See you there. I Challenge You!
As the creator of the “Home Sustainable Challenge”, Croston is providing the training to a more financially secure, and fuller life in the Conserver Economy. To get the first Step in the Challenge for Free, visit HomeSustainable.com [http://www.homesustainable.com]
Glenn Croston is also the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Starting Green” and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping entrepreneurs from all backgrounds start and grow green businesses.