Only a few years ago, asking someone about how they reduced their footprint would have been a confusing experience at best. Today, the question of how to live in a more sustainable fashion is a common one, and not just an area of concern for ‘Greenies’. Living with less environmental impact can have another important benefit—it often also means saving money.
Here are some common trends for living in a way which benefits both the planet and your wallet.
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability or LOHAS (pronounced low-hoss) is a movement that describes a group of people who make choices based on principles of health, sustainability and community. According to the LOHAS website: "These values and attitudes are driving the markets for products as diverse as renewable energy, solar hot water, organic foods, recycled and sustainable homewares, domestic rainwater tanks, sustainable timbers, natural cleaning products, alternative medicine, yoga and eco-tourism." So, rather than being a defined community, living along the principles, of LOHAS is a choice, and you may already be aligned with these values!
Living in line with LOHAS values doesn’t stop at where you shop or how you vote. All of the financial decisions you make have an impact on sustainability, from the super fund you choose, the car that you drive, and the way you invest your money. It’s about choosing based on values and benefits, and thinking more holistically. Needless to say, we like LOHAS.
Buy it for Life (BIFL)
A consumer-driven trend, Buy it for Life (BIFL) is a direct respond to fast fashion, planned obsolescence, and a lot of plastic. For a product to be identified as BIFL, it must be durable, reliable, and largely immune to the influence of fashion. While obviously it’s not practical to buy everything just once, this emphasis on quality over quantity helps to work towards lower overall consumption, which means less waste.
When you’re looking to buy something new, there are a number of places you can go to find out whether there’s a BIFL option. Website Buy This Once, is a popular way to identify the products that will go the distance. Reddit’s BIFL subreddit is a great place to do your research, especially if you’re hunting for a product that’s a little more obscure. Another excellent resource when you’re considering a new purchase is the Wirecutter, a site from the New York Times, that undertakes seriously painstaking reviews of consumer products to help you find the one that best suits your needs. Or, make a small investment and become a member of Choice, an Australian not-for-profit that campaigns for consumer rights, and provides in-depth product reviews and comparisons.
Australia’s car population is growing faster than our human population, but there are some spots where people are resisting the trend and remaining carless. Whether they’re preferring to rely on public transport, getting around by bike, or just big spenders with Uber, not owning a car can be a big saver in terms of money, time and petrol. It’s tempting to think of your car as a time-saver, but in reality when you look at the time spent on maintaining your vehicle, parking, and sitting in traffic, the picture starts to look a little different- even before you take into account all the hours that those cyclists aren’t spending at the gym.
If you absolutely must own a car, consider buying a late model used vehicle. Later model cars have fuel efficiency comparable to current models; and when you buy used, you also make a smaller impact on the environment.
Much more than just decluttering taken to an extreme, minimalism is especially popular among millennials, and represents a lifestyle where less really is more. Retail expert Robin Lewis has explained that retailers are worried about this new generation who are more concerned about the “style of life than the stuff of life”. So rather than merely being about buying less, the new minimalism is about the prioritisation of experiences over things, while tying into the value-based consumerism of LOHAS.
This movement is often touted as a response bourne out of scarcity, as this generation simply doesn’t have the economic access to financial security and property that previous generations have enjoyed, but this would be an overly simplistic look at what represents a substantial shift in values. Minimalism has arisen from political changes, an increasingly connected society, the spread of new ideas, and even a rise in flexible working styles. Brands are certainly starting to pay attention, and we're now beginning to see products marketed to millenials touting sustainability, durability, and low environmental impact.
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