Making environmentally friendly decisions aimed at reducing waste and energy use can help the environment and pad your pocketbook. Going green can take many different forms, from bringing your own bag to the grocery store instead of using disposable bags to making large home improvements. Going green offers many potential benefits, but in some cases, it may also have some negative consequences.
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Perhaps the most important aspect of going green for the average person is the financial concerns. Taking major steps to go green such as adding new insulation, roofing or windows to a home can require a large capital investment. Home improvements aimed at increasing energy efficiency can lead to significant savings on utility bills, but the amount of savings may be difficult to estimate, and you may not easily recoup the cost of the improvement. Similarly, buying a hybrid vehicle can cost several thousand dollars more than car without hybrid technology, and there is no guarantee that the additional costs will be recouped in fuel savings. Even well-proven technologies like energy-efficient light bulbs are not always best. While compact fluorescent bulbs use less energy and last longer than standard bulbs, they cost more per bulb, making broken bulbs more expensive. Certain actions that are considered green, such as buying organic or locally grown food may be clearly more expensive than the alternatives.
Perhaps the most important benefit of going green is the positive environmental impact of using less energy and producing less waste. Even if green measures do not result in cost savings, they can help reduce pollution. On the other hand, the impact that one person or family has on the environment by going green is not likely to be noticeable on the large scale.
Going green is focused on making an impact in the physical world, but it can also lead to psychological effects. For instance, buying locally grown foods might make you happier than buying from large brands because you know that you are supporting local farmers. Even if you don't save money from buying a hybrid car, you might still be happy about the decision because of the contribution you made toward conserving gasoline. If you become too obsessive about going green, however, it may lead negative physiological effects. If you forget to recycle something or leave your reusable shopping bag at home, forcing you to use disposable ones, you might feel remorseful or guilty. Going green may also be negative if it causes you to become condemnatory of other people that choose not to make green decisions.
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