Monday, June 3, 2013
Some of us are takers and some givers. Consumers — we’ve been guilty of take, take, take for a while now. The generation that endured the Great Depression and those in the wake learned that to waste not was to want not. Something recent generations don’t seem to know a lot about. Yet it’s something that’s coming back around as vision shifts to living green — living green that is less about cool energy saving gadgets and space-ship looking houses.
“Going green means using fewer resources,” says Nathan Norris, the new man at the helm of Downtown Development Authority. “I am less interested in becoming more efficient with the resources I use than in making choices that eliminate the need for resources in the first place. At the scale of the home, this means enjoying a smaller home that lives larger through its thoughtful layout. At the scale of the city, this means living in a place that gives you the choice of walking or biking to your daily needs instead of being required to use a car.”
It’s the way of life for families like Brittany Broussard that have what we’ll call green glasses — looking at life through eyes aimed at saving the planet and wasting less.
“We don’t consume a lot of things,” she says. “Whether it’s a new piece of clothing or a toy.”
They live in an older house downtown with little storage space — suits them just fine. They don’t use disposable water bottles; they recycle and try to buy only what they need.
“Both of my grandparents were the least wasteful people I’ve ever seen,” she adds. “They have no waste.”
It made a great impression on Broussard, mother of a 3-year-old son as well as a stepdaughter; Broussard now wants to pass along the same lessons to the next generation.
“With Jacques he won’t know anything different, and I think that’s a good thing. I hope he will live a simple life and not need a lot around him to feel complete and loved and full. Things we do today affect him the most, and I hope that consumption people are a minority when he’s 30 or so,” she says.
Consuming less is something often easier said than done — marketers do a great job convincing us the superfluous is necessary. Broussard, a Moorgate loan officer, points to a very simple solution.
“We are mostly cash based. You think twice about what you’re spending money on,” she says.
Money, in fact, is one great motivator for living in a more sustainable way.
“There are many benefits of going green, but the one that resonates with most people is the opportunity to save money,” Norris says. “While I have saved money with energy-efficient insulation and a tankless hot water heater, my real savings come from living in a place that does not require me to get in a car for all of my daily needs.”
Broussard and her brood bike most everywhere, and she finds it to be not just better on the wallet but also on the soul.
“An urban lifestyle provides a lot of bonuses for enriching your life. Not having to get in the car … I think we can call them the hipster younger generation; they don’t want a car and they’re green but not always consciously doing it and it’s a way of living for them. Living in an urban area does that.”
Living the green life from planting your own fruits and veggies to using rain collection barrels for watering the lawn is becoming less and less about buying stuff to keep us from destroying the planet and more about just using less in every way possible. It can start where you live.
“Living downtown or in a town center that allows you to live, work and play within walking and biking distance of your home contributes substantially more to being green than a household gadget because the environmental and financial savings from not using a car dwarfs the savings from green gadgets,” Norris says. — AB