I happened randomly across a book by David Bach, titled "Go Green, Live Rich" in a thrift shop. He is the author of "The Automatic Millionaire" so I was pretty familiar with his writing and the concepts he introduces. I ended up purchasing the book for $6 as it contained some good ways to be a little more green and I could use all the help.
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Bach introduced us to the "Latte Factor" in which he states that the little things add up to a big way. Think about all of those times you buy a fancy coffee drink, how much it costs and what else you can do with that money. You can read more about it here and use the calculator and worksheet to figure out what your "Latte Factor" is. It may be coffee, cigarettes, fancy bottled water or cold-press juice.
In "Go Green, Live Rich," he introduces us to the "Litter Factor." It is a concept that further elaborates on how small things add up to big things. For example, buying coffee in a disposable single-use cup not only drains you a few dollars each day, it also contributes trash to the environment. Majority of disposable cups, including Starbucks cups are not easy to recycle. Think about all of the coffee you consume, where do those cups go. Some days, you will see them pile up in the corner trash can, other days, you'll see one being swept by the rain and end up in the sewage system and eventually in the rivers. When you start thinking about what you consume, how much it costs you and how much it costs the environment, you start thinking differently.
Let's take bottled water as another example. Water is a God given right and therefore should be protected and available to all. Many cities have excellent water treatment plans. New York for example has one of the best waters that an entrepreneur was able to bottle tap water and sell it at one point. Tap water is also very inexpensive. For NYC, water is approximately one penny per gallon, it is about 1,000 times less expensive than bottled water. (Source) Think of the savings!! When you also think bottled water, you are also spending resources making the plastic bottles and shipping the water leading to an inefficient use of resources. Additionally, when we stop paying attention to one of our natural resources and leave it up to private corporations, we end up ignoring that it is our right to have clean water and that the officials we elect should be supporting and fighting for this right.
I did some quick calculation and came up with the infographic below that focused on how much you spend and how much trash you contribute during your time at work. Given you work 46 out of the 52 weeks (I'm being generous here with vacation, holidays, sick and personal times) and you get take-out everyday for coffee, bottled water and lunch, the amount adds up. Prices are based on average NYC prices. I also went with the salad example because everyone in NYC really loves to eat salads out of those plastic bowls.
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If you are still not sure, check out this analysis from the minmylife.org: The Best Financial Advice You'll Ever Get.
Action Steps to Take
- Take a look at your "Latte Factor" and see how much trash it contributes. Try out David Bach's calculator.
- Think also about how much money you are spending and how much you could be saving to spend on something better than high priced water.
- Invest in a re-usable. This is currently my favorite water bottle, this is the best travel coffee mug as rated by Outside Mag, and this is one of the cutest reusable coffee cup. Take your pick! You'll save a few cents to a couple of dollars each time and reduce your trash contribution. It also makes you a more conscious consumer as it reduces impulse buying.