Earth Day, May 22 2016
I would like to give you another perspective on earth day. Commuting to school or work by bike once a year on earth day is great but its missing the point. This planet is a marvelous place with marvelous creatures and we need to change our way of thinking pretty quickly if we want future generations to be able to visit coral reefs and witness the beauty of a sea turtle swimming.
The thing that most people get wrong on earth day is they think they need to make sacrifices to save the planet, not true. What is good for the planet is good for your health and your bank account too! The challenge comes in that it takes long term planning to take advantage of these earth friendly cost savings but I know a lot of you watching this channel are under 25 so you have time to make this work for you. The problem is that most people make decisions without looking at the big financial picture and that is what spreadsheets do! As I mentioned in the how to get rich series, the solution the big questions in life can be answered by a spreadsheet.
Lets take cars, one of the biggest contributors to global warming and pollution. Most people dig their heels in and say “I have to have a car because [insert reason]”. Why is that? Its because they planned their lives around having a car! They chose to have a bigger cheaper house out in the suburbs rather than a small place in town where they could walk or bike to work. When you get that first big job and are looking for a place to live, do a spreadsheet! In the USA, the average car costs $10,000 per year to operate if you include all payments, gas, maintenance, and insurance. $10,000 is a LOT of money when you are starting out in life so before you rent a big place in the suburbs that requires a car do a spreadsheet! There is a good chance you will find that a more expensive place in the city that allows you to bike or take public transit to work will SAVE you money and improve your quality of life too. Because you dont need a car thats 100 less scoops that the steam shovel has to scrape out of the strip mine and one less tailpipe to spew CO2. Win win!
Its very easy to just throw your hands up and say that the world is doomed because the problem is too big and governments are not doing anything to solve the problem. Think global, act local is more than a slogan. Our governments are never going to save the planet, we the people have to do it. I have witnessed the power of acting locally in my own life. We were one of the first to install solar panels in our neighborhood and many folks stopped by to talk to us about them. Guess what? Over 10 houses in our neighborhood now have solar panels! Act locally and other people follow suit, why? Because it makes sense! Its only been 4 years and because we saved money by installing the panels ourselves, they have already paid for themselves. We now get free power for the next 20 years! Another example of what is good for the planet is good for the pocketbook. It doesnt take too many people putting solar panels on their roofs to eliminate the need to build another dirty coal fired power plant!
Earth day is great but think about the bigger picture. Before you make decisions that require you to own a car, do a spreadsheet and make sure it makes financial sense!
Happy earth day!