While many people want a greener planet, some think that “going green” is a luxury, an expensive choice they can't afford. But there are simple things we could do that will not only help protect the planet, but will also help you save money — creating a green path to wealth. It's all the brainchild of David Bach, the author of the new book “Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth (and Get Rich Trying).” Here's an excerpt:
If I have learned one thing in my nearly twenty years as a financial advisor and coach, it is this: It’s not what you earn that makes you rich or poor; it is what you spend. Millions of Americans are burning up money every day while they squander the planet’s nonrenewable resources and pollute the environment in ways that lead to global warming and climate change. And we don’t even realize it. We are just doing things the way we have always done them.
We buy a car because we like the way it looks and handles. We build a house with as many square feet as the bank’s mortgage officer will allow. We renovate our kitchens with Sub-Zero refrigerators to increase our home’s resale value. We run the sprinkler on our lawns using water that is so cheap that it is practically “free.” It’s all just common sense, right?
Wrong. There is a “new” way of doing all of these things that you will learn in this book. When you change your mind-set to a green way of thinking, you will change your actions, and those actions will put money back in your pocket. And over time, the money you save will make your rich — while helping to protect the Earth.
Just Do One “Green Thing Today." It will lead to more.
Find your litter factorMaybe you have heard of “The Latté Factor.®”
It is a phrase I created as a metaphor for all the little things we spend money on over the course of a day without giving it much thought. The phrase applies to buying not only fancy coffee but also fast food, cigarettes, bottled water — you name it. I have long encouraged my reader to identify their “Latte Factor” and eliminate it to start saving money. But small changes such as not buying coffee in a disposable cup or water in a plastic bottle not only are good for your wallet, they actually better the planet. In the same way that “little things” add up to drain your wealth, “small changes” add up to make a big difference for the Earth.
Consider this: Every year, Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Of these, 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper cups, enough to wrap the Earth 55 times if placed end to end. Plus, those paper cups contain a plastic lining made from a petrochemical that would produce enough energy to heat 8,300 homes for a year.
Or this: A 2007 article by Charles Fishman in Fast Company magazine reports that North Americans spent $15 billion on bottled water in 2006. Fishman points out that transporting this water requires moving 1 billion bottles of water around per week in ships, trains, and trucks across the United States.
Not only that, but you could run 100,000 cars for a year on the amount of oil required to make the plastic used for bottled water. What’s more, nearly 9 out of 10 plastic water bottles are simply thrown away, filling our landfills and blowing into our waterways. That’s because 96 percent of the bottles sold in 2005 were single-serving sizes, which have a lower recycling rate than nearly any other type of plastic packaging.
That is how your Latte Factor — in this case, your Designer Water Factor — becomes your Litter Factor. I put this tip right up in the front of the book because it is a perfect example of how wasting money and hurting the planet go hand in hand.
And here’s the truly crazy part — we drink designer water because we think it’s healthier than “free” water from our taps. In reality, according to Fishman’s article, 24 percent of the bottled water we drink (nearly one in four bottles) is tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi’s brand is Aquafina — again, just purified tap water — and it costs nearly 2,500 times more than what comes out of your faucet. To drink the recommended amount of water (8 to 12 cups a day), you’d spend about $2,500 a year on Aquafina. The cost for the same amount of tap water? A dollar.
If you’re buying actual spring water, like Evian, Poland Springs, or FIJI, chances are you’re spending even more — up to 10,000 times more than tap water. And it’s not necessarily purer water, since federal standards are higher for tap water than for bottled.
The backlash against “designer water” as a result of its environmental impact is growing. Cities like San Francisco have banned city employees from using tax dollars to purchase bottled water at work, and other cities are following suit.
Bottled water companies are taking notice and working toward more environmentally friendly packaging and practices. Poland Spring, manufactured by Nestle Waters, has introduced their new EcoShape bottle — which is 15 percent lighter and requires 10 to 15 percent less energy to make. And FIJI Water recently announced “FIJI Green,” an entire initiative to “protect and give back to the environment” with every bottle. These are improvements, but let’s face it — the best solution is to carry your own tap water in a reusable container.
SAVE $500 in a year by breaking a bottle-a-day water habit.
RUN 100,000 cars each year on the oil saved if bottled water were history.
Go Green Action Steps:
- See how it all adds up. Calculate your savings from breaking the bottled water habit by using my Latte Factor calculator at www.finishrich.com. Click on the “Learn” tab and select “Find Your Latte Factor.”
- Get a reusable water bottle and fill it with water from your tap. The newest generation of reusable water bottles, like those from SIGG (www.mysigg.com), are made of lightweight aluminum. And those from Klean Kanteen (www.kleankanteen.com) are made of stainless steel. EnviroProducts manufactures a water bottle that is made from 100 percent corn grown in the United States. You can refill this bottle up to 90 times, and when you’re done it biodegrades in just 80 days in a commercial compost! Check it out at www.newwaveenviro.com.
- If you have concerns about your tap water, it can easily and cheaply be filtered and purified. Visit www.waterfiltercomparisons.com to compare the leading brands and find one that’s right for you.
Excerpted from "Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth (and Get Rich Trying)" by David Bach with Hillary Rosner. © 2008 by David Bach. Reprinted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group of Random House, Inc.