Simple Living and Operating a Sustainable Green Business

“Simple living” continues to garner much pop culture hype, sparking books, magazines and a slew of self-help opportunities to assist you to declutter, scale back and slow down. Environmentally conscious and sustainable living fall under the simple living radar, but where does ecopreneuring or running a green business fit in?

My wife and I incorporated numerous “simple living” strategies into our business and life over the years. While our lifestyle may exude quintessential simple living elements — from canning applesauce to crafting holiday gifts — there remains an inherently complex element to our ecopreneuring workstyle. Our calendar looks like a treasure hunt map of lines of travel, Bed & Breakfast guests arriving and departing, writing deadlines, family gatherings, and our son’s home-school group projects. We always juggle multiple, sometimes unrelated, projects.

A better word than “simple” to describe our ecopreneuring approach is “focus.” By consciously choosing to do certain things, we inherently simplify by prioritizing. We open more time to focus on what we really want to do by eliminating (or at least seriously reducing) time drains, including the following:

(1) Daily commute.
With the average daily commute in the US now nearly a half-hour, by working from home, we save over seven days per year driving to someplace, not to mention the fossil fuel emissions of daily driving.

(2) Television.
Avoid the national average of watching three hours per day and — poof — add over 45 extra days to your year to do things more important to your family, community and environment. Our business helps us make a sustainable life, not just earn a living. We still have a television, a classic 1979 RCA model, used primarily for watching movies (especially documentaries like “Who Killed the Electric Car”) in the winter, tucked away in the corner of an upstairs room. The passive entertainment garnered from most television programs adds up to wasted time. Try unplugging the TV and connecting with your priorities of spending more time with the family or tending to your food growing in your gardens.

(3) Communication and technology.
Technology can be a powerful, cost-effective ecopreneuring tool. Manage communication technologies selectively since it has the potential to turn every day into a perpetual 24-hour workday. Don’t let it. By not using a cellphone or text-messaging, we carve out chunks of productive time to focus on our priorities.

(4) Growing your bank account.
Defining “success” by the size of your bank account will perpetually suck time since growth has limitless potential. You’ll never be “finished” since the race to keep up with the Joneses, or be a “successful” business by mainstream standards is defined quantitatively, not qualitatively. How big you want to grow your business remains up to you. But by setting growth limits, by defining wealth by factors other than financial, time opens up for other opportunities and priorities. We strive to build a better business, not a bigger one.

How have you simplified your life or created a more sustainable business by prioritizing?

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