Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Sustainability & ME: Budgets & Sustainability

Posted on November 12, 2016 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Sustainability comes in many different forms. Some people buy from local businesses, some people drive their cars less and some people grow some of their own food. However, these lifestyle changes are often time-consuming and expensive. When people are asked their stance on the environment, many say that the environment is invaluable. However, their actions don’t always support this sentiment. For example, many consumers wouldn’t bat an eye at buying a t-shirt that is cheaper than another, although the more expensive one advertises that their company plants a tree for every shirt sold. Pricing is always on the minds of most consumers, and sustainability often falls by the wayside when one’s own finances and job security are at stake.

Luckily, from the private sector, there are more and more companies that are making a commitment to sustainable practices. The shoe company TOMS has rooted its business in sustainability and social responsibility. They “…understand the imperative for our company to operate responsibly and know that you want to buy from a company that works hard to integrate sustainable and responsible practices.” They have demonstrated this by launching Toms One for One program, where they donate one pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes sold.

Another example is Patagonia, a company that makes and sells climbing gear and other athletic apparel, and is clearly oriented toward environmental sustainability. Their mission statement reads: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. One exceptional way they have done this is by being completely transparent about their supply chain and their own impact on the environment. They also sell products that are fair trade certified, which means they meet certain labor and environmental standards. Patagonia addresses both environmental sustainability and economic sustainability as well.

On a personal level, it may worth acknowledging that sustainable purchases and behavior AND budgets are important. Being realistic and committing to just one thing is a good start. Maybe you decide to purchase a third or half of your produce from the local farmers market. This is a concrete step you can take that won’t break the bank but will be both tasty and something that makes you feel good morally. Using your personal influence in areas where you are involved such as a school, workplace, church, club or group can also have critical impacts.

Maybe your soccer club decides to sell concessions in all recyclable packaging. Maybe your sister’s dance recital provides tap water to drink instead of selling bottled water. Neither of these items on their own will likely upset the organization’s budget, but they are both choices they can feel good standing behind. Decide to make a commitment to sustainability, but then remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start small and make a change that still works within your budget. If everyone did this, the world would surely be a better place, and more united in the effort to have a sustainable environment.

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