Points of Entry into Low-Footprint Lifestyles

Some people seem to have been born conservation-minded, or were raised to be that way. But even people who didn’t start out green-minded can become that way at any point during their lives. There are many points of entry into low-footprint lifestyles; here are some I’ve noticed:

  • Religion/spirituality: Most, if not all, religions and spiritual practices call upon their members to be good stewards of the earth. Also, to care for fellow human beings who are poor and less fortunate. These duties can motivate a congregation to set up (as just a couple of examples) a food forest or wildlife habitat on its premises. Both of these are footprint-reducing actions.
  • Child-rearing: People want their kids to have good food. They want them to have safe water to drink and swim in. And they feel a call to leave the world a better place for future generations. These concerns can spur people to boycott bottled water; to purchase local organic produce; to grow their own food; to clean up their local bodies of water, among other actions.
  • Health concerns: The wish to lead a long healthy life can serve as the impetus for all sorts of actions, including but not limited to the ones mentioned under “child-rearing.”
  • Finances: Limited budget is a great force for green living, motivating people to cut their household energy use, consumer purchases, gasoline consumption, and more.
  • Interest in engineering/technology: Engineering is an endeavor to optimize the design of things and processes, minimizing resource use while maximizing results. In an environment that nurtures creative thinking and rewards humanitarian instincts, engineers can blossom into conservation wizards.
  • Municipal governance: Expensive municipal problems (for example, stormwater infrastructure overload) can motivate local government leaders to open their minds to solutions beyond the mainstream (for example, cisterns, bioswales, rain gardens).
  • Aesthetics: People who insist on surrounding themselves with beauty (a very healthy thing to insist on!) might find themselves purchasing vintage clothes, which are often prettier and better-made than new; or replacing a harsh, sterile turf-grass lawn with an inviting landscape of wildflowers and soft native grasses.
  • Interest in nature, the outdoors: Exposure to the wonders of nature brings love and reverence, which in turn instill the urge to protect.

Can you think of any more to add to this list?