Was trawling through the new TreeHugger Survey (What, you haven't penned your thoughts yet? Go on, maybe you'll win a Voltaic solar bag), and noticed a response, amongst the vast multitude, that struck a chord. Our question was: When it comes to saving the environment what area(s) do you need the most help in? This particular respondent said, "Money. If I had more of it, I could do more for the environment." And while that might possibly be true, it is also accurate to suggest that a lack of money can indeed also look after the environment. Access to wealth can lead to purchases of often unnecessary 'luxury' items that bring their own eco-burden. The most environmentally conscious acts are often the cheapest.
Like putting on a sweater rather than turning on, or up, the heating. Compact fluoro lighting saves money in the longer term. Owning and using a bicycle for city travel instead of a car. Catching public transit instead of paying a car's loan, insurance, maintenance, fuel, registration, etc. Buying secondhand, preloved goods, in lieu of new resource-intensive stryofoam wrapped or blister pack clad goods. Taking holidays locally rather than flying off to seemingly exotic locales (why fly to the Maldives if you can overland to Baja?) Placing a brick or weighted bottle into your toilet cistern, so it flushes less drinking water down the drain. Buying direct from farmers markets before visiting the supermarket.
Reducing meat consumption, in favour of vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes. Not buying wasteful 'packaged' water, but refilling your own bottle with (the often more pure) tap water. Volunteering for your local conservation or environment group. Making your own heartfelt birthday cards instead of buying anonymously written Hallmark style ones. Wrapping presents in salvaged gift paper or even newspaper. Sharing books, lawnmowers, sporting equipment and any items that you don't use regularly, and likewise borrowing too.
None of these actions, and hundreds like them, require a bigger budget than the one each of us already has, but cumulatively they make a significant difference. (Indeed some believe the less money we have the more responsible citizens we are likely to be.
See Your Money or Your Life for more on that idea.)