Shopping versus Voting for the Environment
Does concern for the environment effect how you vote? How about how you shop?
Does either choice make a difference? Both are personal decisions, but only one will make a real difference.
The EPA resides at the bottom of the federal expenditure list of all 18 government agencies. Even as last, the EPA is still our best effort at making an environmental difference. The problem is that the EPA is financially tiny. With a 2011 planned expenditure of $8.6 billion, the EPA is just two tenths of one percent (0.2%) of the $3.8 trillion 2011 US planned 2011 spending. In comparison to its possible related energy & health agencies, the EPA's budget is just 25% of Energy's budget and only 10% of Health's.
Good government creates successful societies. Government is just not as financially efficient as the free market. Expecting an inefficient and underfunded government agency to positively affect the global environment very soon starts to look like a long shot.
So if your vote and your government cannot cause positive environmental change, what can you do?
You should go shopping.
'We the People' spent $10.2 Trillion on 'stuff' in 2011 (excluding housing). Compare this to a mere $7.6 billion, the amount the US planned to spend on the EPA in 2011 ($3.8 trillion x 0.2%). This says we spend 1342 times more money than our government spends on the EPA. As free market transactions, it is spent much more efficiently than our government could ever hope to do.
Individual personal consumption choices have the potential to make a huge environmental difference.
If we choose to only buy more efficient automobiles, light bulbs, air conditioners, appliances, and electronics, even if they cost a little more, we are positively affecting the environment now, but also in the future becuase we are changing the market.
It is not even that important that you be 'right' with all of your personal green choices.
If we train ourselves to buy only clothing, foods, fuels, and electricity that are marketed as environmentally sensitive or green, even if they are not perfectly green our actions are training the market to become greener. Our green buying decisions teach the market that the greener a product or service, the more successful it will be. Markets always quickly react to such clear messages.
We should still vote for what we environmentally want, but those votes should be targeted for our children or for their children. Those votes can affect the EPA's 0.2% of the annual federal spending. Moreover, we can hope smart EPA efforts can affect a much larger environmental impact.
Voting with our wallets through personal green spending choices has up to 1342 times greater potential financial impact than the environmental management of the federal government. With capitalism's efficiency, green leaning purchases from our collective wallets will cause a much greater environmental impact than any President, Congress, or environmental agency could ever hope make.
It's not too late to cause positive change. And it is easy to make a difference.
Just always buy, design, build, and live, 'green'.