Nico Leyva writes for Nerdwallet, a consumer finance website that promotes financial literacy and looks for the best ways to save you money.
The importance of being green is often mentioned in regards to saving the world. You can do your part to decrease landfill, reduce carbon emissions, and clean up oceans and wildlife areas. But being green is also very important on an individual level. Being a green consumer can improve your personal financial standing, and by buying from local businesses, you can contribute to your community and help it grow. Your community isn’t just a city or a town; it’s a collection of all the economic and personal interests of everyone who lives there. By making conscious financial choices, you can help save the world and keep your unique community flourishing. Here are three ways to be a green consumer.
- 1. Buy Locally – Whether you are buying produce at the farmers market or general groceries at your local co-op, try to buy your food and other household items locally. Co-ops often give members discounts, which will give your wallet a break, and their products tend to be more environmentally conscious than those you would find at a big supermarket. Also, going to farmers markets and co-ops gives you the chance to get to know the people who grow or make the food you eat, and establish or improve upon relationships with people who live in your community. When you spend money at local businesses, it tends to stay in the community and helps keep the local economy stable.
- 2. Buy Consciously - Think about who is providing you with many of your daily conveniences. Support citizen-action companies like Working Assets, who provide portions of their funds from mobile and long-distance phone services to nonprofits and who are actively involved in producing positive social, environmental and political change worldwide. And you don’t even have to give up your smartphone or pay more, because they offer competitive prices and perks, like cash rebates for leaving your current mobile phone contract early. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores are another great resource, where you can buy new or gently-used home improvement goods at far lower prices than the big chains. Your purchases help fund the construction and renovation of homes in your community, and around the world.
- 3. Invest Locally - Just as buying food and supplies at local businesses helps keep your money in your community, so does saving your money at your local credit union. At Cooperative Federal, your money is not used for the stock market or risky investments. They are a not-for-profit dedicated to community development, so the combined funds of all their member-owners are used to support individual members and their small businesses, and community organizations. Remember, you become a member and owner of the credit union just by joining and having a share savings account, and you are part of a group that wants to help you succeed financially. Not to mention, they are also involved in social activism, helping to eliminate discrimination and racism, improve social equality for everyone, and reduce waste that harms the environment.
There are many other ways you can join the green movement. You can ride your bike to work instead of driving, or shop at thrift stores or other charity re-sale stores that support lower income people in your community. But most importantly, by buying and investing locally, you not only save yourself money, you also help preserve your community’s identity and its special way of life.