The biggest obstacle to people actively working to help the environment isn’t their desire or lack thereof to benefit the environment; it is the twin issues of cost and convenience. If the cost is too high or it is very inconvenient to commit to an action, people will not follow through. Usually the issue is either one or the other not both expensive and highly inconvenient. Some of the most common practices in the home are based on this.
Using paper towels is often a practice that many individuals that want to help the environment, quit quite quickly. For most people who use them instead of reusable towels, it seems more convenient and possibly cheaper to use paper towels. After all, if you use the paper towel, you can just get rid of it instead of having to wash it. It seems more convenient and doesn’t appear to be very expensive. However, it doesn’t feel very convenient to have to take the trash out more often because you produce more trash. Also, it can seem pretty inconvenient to have to go to the grocery store to pick up paper towels when you run out and they also appear to take up way more space than regular towels. In contrast, just tossing the used towels into the washing machine to get clean ones seems so much easier than having to buy paper towels every other week or every month. It is possible that it is cheaper to have the reusable towels. 16XL Brawny paper towel rolls go for around 30 bucks on Amazon. Now depending on how fast you go through that amount (this generally gets faster in the presence of children and pets), you may spend a few hundred dollars a year on paper towels. Chances are you wouldn’t need to spend that amount on reusable towels.
Another common practice is quickly switching from air conditioning to heat and vice versa depending on the season. It feels very convenient to have the temperature kept to a particular range to keep you comfortable. However, it can feel really nice to enjoy a good blanket or wear a warm long sleeve sweater instead of raising the heat to t-shirt temps. It may be convenient but it tends not to be the best financial decision. Often though the cost of switching to heat can be waived off as a necessary expense. What would the savings be to you if you waited until the temperature dropped a few degrees more? Of course it depends on where you live and how much you need heat/AC. It doesn’t appear to be less convenient to just put on a sweater instead of a t-shirt or to curl up in a blanket. Just holding off the AC or the heat for a few degrees more than you usually do can help your wallet and the environment. Again cost and convenience is either the key to or obstacle in front of being environmentally friendly.
While air conditioning/heat and using paper towels are just a couple of examples, there are multiple instances where beneficial cost and convenience or the appearance thereof can override the desire to help the planet. People were convinced to use LED light bulbs because they weren’t any less convenient to use and the price point became comparable to other types. Find a way to make it just as or more convenient to use the more environmentally friendly option in the minds of consumers or ensure that the cost doesn’t price people out of the option. This will help the planet and make it much less painful for people to accept the change.