The recent pandemic and the economic downturn it created forced governments, businesses and consumers to reconsider how they approached economic sustainability. Thankfully, there are easy ways to encourage sustainable economic practices. The hardest part is getting all parties involved to change their mindsets when it comes to how to manage resources, how to operate businesses and what to prioritize at the government levels. The following are five sustainable economic practices worth considering.
As America became more industrialized, more people began to work outside of the home to make a living. This has left little time for sustainability efforts, such as growing food and harvesting water. Consequently, people outsourced these activities to supermarkets and municipalities. Microfarming brings people back to their roots by encouraging small-scale farming at home. Forbes believes that when cities produce their own foods via microfarming, it reduces the demand for and the environmental impact of bringing food in from rural areas.
2. Tiny Home Living
One movement that is often roped in with microfarming is tiny home living. Whether people build a tiny home by hand or commission local contractors to build one, tiny homes allow people to have a much smaller footprint. One high-sustainability note is that tiny home dwellers often live completely off the grid by sourcing energy from the sun and harvesting rainfall for water. Tiny homes also provide a lower economic burden than a full-size home and often even offer the perk of mobility.
Another movement tiny home dwellers become associated with is upcycling. This involves sourcing materials headed for landfills and repurposing them to make them useful again. Upcycling efforts can range from turning old shoes into garden pots to reclaiming old cabinetry for fitting out a brand new kitchen. Many companies have built an entire business model on sustainability by upcycling former waste products.
4. Human Capital Investment
The economic landscape is constantly changing, and the skill sets necessary for employability change with it. When governments and businesses invest in human capital, they help reduce the likelihood of skill gaps in the future. Human capital investment can range from companies training lower-level workers for higher-paying jobs to governments subsidizing tertiary education to make it more affordable. Inc. magazine identifies the following benefits at the company level:
- Improves retention rates
- Makes it easier to promote from within
- Keeps employees engaged
- Encourages a forward-thinking mindset
5. Monetary Incentives
Unfortunately, many people and organizations remain resistant to change and sustainability efforts. Even when people want to change, change can be expensive. For instance, the initial investment for solar power or purchasing an electric vehicle can be cost-prohibitive for many individuals. Economic incentives at the private and government levels help to reduce the burden. Here are some examples of this:
- Up to $7,000 in rebates for purchasing qualifying hybrid and electric vehicles in California
- 26% federal solar tax credit for new solar power systems in operation by the end of 2020
- Trading in recyclable waste for cash in eligible municipalities
The Bottom Line
There are many simple steps we can all take toward economic sustainability. All it takes is a little creativity and the willingness to change what we have begun to accept as normal socioeconomic, agricultural and political standards.