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The current generation is the most eco-conscious generation yet, but attitudes and actions don’t always match. A study by the Shelton Group found that while millennials were the most likely of any group to have a green attitude toward energy conservation, this doesn’t necessarily translate into actions. Statistically, millennials are less likely than the average American to sacrifice personal convenience when it conflicts with environmental interests, and less likely to take simple eco-friendly actions such as recycling, bringing their own bags to shop, drinking water from reusable containers or unplugging items not in use.
Research by the Glass Packaging Institute similarly found that millennials are less likely than other age groups to take actions that save energy. Truly translating pro-environmental attitudes into action takes conscious planning of your lifestyle. Here are four ways you can adjust your lifestyle to make green living easier.
Where you live can make a difference in how easy it is for you to be environmentally friendly. For instance, cities that have better public transportation systems and bike routes make it easier to travel green than cities that don’t. WalletHub ranks the 100 greenest cities in America using 20 indicators, such as greenhouse gas emissions per capita and smart energy initiatives. Six of the top 10 cities are in California, with San Francisco ranking first, reflecting the strong environmental awareness of the Golden State.
But even if you don’t live in one of the top eco-friendly areas, you can still look for places to live in your own area that support a green lifestyle. For instance, if you’re looking to rent an apartment in New York, finding an apartment within walking distance of your workplace will cut down on your carbon footprint while helping you get some exercise.
Where you work also impacts the green quality of your lifestyle. Working for an employer who follows energy conservation practices or uses sustainable materials is a way you can contribute to the general welfare of the environment. In partnership with the Corporate Knights, Newsweek publishes an annual ranking of the top green companies in the United States, based on eight specific indicators, including energy productivity, greenhouse gas productivity, water productivity and waste productivity. In 2016, Hasbro came in at the top of the list, followed by Nike and Hershey.
How you get to work can also make an impact on both the environment and your health. You can choose greener transportation by walking or biking to work, taking public transportation or working from home.
Being more selective about what you buy is another way you can live a more green lifestyle. The Environmental Protection Agency points out that 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to produce, process and transport food and other goods. Shop for products made of sustainable, recyclable materials, and built to last so that you’ll generate less waste and consume less energy. Look for environmentally friendly packaging labels, such as ENERGY STAR, Water Sense, and Design for the Environment. Select green companies to buy from, using lists such as the Corporate Knights’ annual lists of America’s greenest companies or their list of the world’s most sustainable companies, currently topped by BMW.
Choosing a green lifestyle can also affect your relationships. If you want to conserve energy, but your roommate wants to run the air conditioner all day, you may find yourself butting heads. While you shouldn’t necessarily limit your friends to people who see eye-to-eye with you on environmental issues, seeking out friends, roommates and romantic partners who share your values in this area may make it easier for you to live a green lifestyle.
Being in favor of green living is one thing, but it takes some effort and being proactive to make a difference. But if you're unsure of how to put your principles into action, any or all of the above are great starting points!