Is going green affordable? It's all well and good for Cate Blanchett, with her $1.5 million renovation budget. What options are there for the many of us who can't afford solar panels and hybrid cars?
-- Vanessa, NSW
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There are two keys to green living - good habits and good technology. For example, a water-saving showerhead is a good technology, while having shorter showers is a good habit. Both benefit the environment.
Solar panels and hybrid cars get a lot of media attention, while we tend not to hear about the more humble eco-products. In reality, there are many low-cost green products and no-cost behaviour change options for those of us on a tight budget.
Compact fluorescent lights, tap flow restrictors, some water-saving showerheads, weatherstripping (used to seal air leaks around windows and doors) and draft-proofing products, basic compost bins and green bags are all under $50 each and all will help to make your lifestyle less harmful to the environment.
There is also vast potential to help the environment through behaviour change alone.
Things such as turning off a second fridge between parties, maintaining appliances so that they run more efficiently, not leaving televisions and other entertainment equipment on standby, taking shorter showers and turning off lights and appliances that are not in use will actually save you money.
Changing your behaviour only requires information and determination, rather than cold hard cash.
Even with a mega-renovation, Cate Blanchett's house won't be truly green unless she couples it with greener living habits, as I'm sure she will (view her personal eco-commitments online at www.whoonearthcares.com.au).
Greener behaviour is something we ALL can and must do. Resist the temptation to use a lack of funds as a cop-out.