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Live within your values or your means?

Diane Hall


Electric Car with plug as a bush

Over the last decade, campaigners for a healthier Earth have made a great deal of progress. Green initiatives have been implemented across all industries, from the biggest businesses to the smallest. Changes to laws and policies have been made by Government, covering such as reductions in vehicle emissions, grants to help those on low incomes insulate their homes, and investment into renewables through green levies for energy companies.

The pandemic also highlighted the impact modern life has on our environment. Species thought to be extinct re-emerged during lockdowns, the air quality was much cleaner when fewer people drove their cars, and people made a point of supporting their local providers, rather than blindly heading to the nearest supermarket each week.

The benefits of a cleaner environment were plain to see in the early days of the Covid crisis, yet before long, once we were allowed to mix again, bad habits returned to the fore. Littering. Wastefulness. Instant gratification versus the effort of making a green choice.

However, whilst there is a small minority of people that do not care what happens to this planet across future generations, there are many, many more that do. Concern for the environment has not been lost altogether.

That said, a recent report by Consumer magazine suggests that wanting to make green choices is only half the battle. The squeeze on families’ incomes across the UK may take these decisions away, however much consumers may want to be conscious of their actions and however sympathetic they are about climate change.

Wind turbines on green meadow

Wind turbines on green meadow

This is because green choices are ultimately more expensive than their alternatives.

My bills have collectively risen by approximately £300 a month—with price rises on petrol, energy and food, and the hike in National Insurance. So many families won’t have leeway in their budget to cover these increases without significantly changing their lifestyle or increasing their income.

13% of participants in a survey highlighted by Consumer magazine believe green choices are worth paying extra for. However, there was an almost equal split between the remaining respondents, half of whom thought cutting costs and making environmentally conscious choices were equally as important as each other, and the other half admitting that, if their budgets tightened any further, their green choices would fall by the wayside in a bid to cut costs.

It does seem unfair that the cost of energy has risen so dramatically, given the profits recently posted by the giants of the energy sector, as I highlight in this article. The sector is often at the forefront of green initiatives—incorporating such renewables as wind farms, solar and hydro power, and even biomass, as alternatives to fossil fuels. It’s therefore ironic that it’s the energy companies forcing many people to drop their own environmentally friendly choices/options just to ensure the companies’ gargantuan profits.

That they will no longer have the choice to be green will be a blow for many people who strive to live within their values. However, they’d surely admit that it’s just as important to live within your means.

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