When I talk to people about sustainability and green living – money is often the monster lurking in the background. Whether spoken or unspoken, there is often the feeling that sustainability is a ‘luxury’ some people cannot afford. My job is often to make it clear to people that having no money is not necessarily a barrier to sustainable change.
I completely appreciate that I am coming at this from a position of privilege. I realise that when people are struggling every day to put food on their table, or a roof over their heads, sustainability is not going to be at the forefront of people’s minds.
True sustainability means thinking about how we can provide the basics for all. Inequality and poverty should obviously have no place in a more sustainable future. A universal income, or universal basic wage is one way to ensure that the baseline is met for everyone in our societies. And replacing our current unjust economic and societal systems is not something we should give up on.
Politics aside, however, we have to work within the capitalism, consumerist system we have as well as trying to find ways to change things for the better. That means making sure that everyday sustainability measures are accessible and achievable for all.
In mainstream culture, it can sometimes seem as though sustainability is all about buying. Buy reusable containers and swap plastic products for more sustainable ones. Buy more energy efficient appliances. Choose expensive organic options…
But what is not covered as often are all the other steps we can take that don’t cost anything to implement at all. In fact, many of the refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling steps we take can save us money in our daily lives. We can also save money when moving to a more sustainable way of life by making use of all the natural resources around us, as well as reclaiming old ones.
In fact, by taking other steps, it is often possible to free up funds to make the changes that do cost money. The changes can free us up to make better choices when it comes to the things that we do have to buy.
If you feel that money is a barrier on your journey to sustainable change, please do get in touch.