Here are my preferred behaviors.

Establish your support group and choose a few initial steps

You need help changing your behaviors; a good way is to involve your family and friends. I chose my family and my daughter’s family, living nearby, plus some distant friends from a movement called Happy Degrowth. I began with two behaviors and gradually added others.

Possible initiatives include:

  • Take public transport, walk, ride a bike.
  • Enjoy and promote green spaces.
  • If you absolutely need a car, go electric.
  • Take the train and fewer airplane flights.
  • Get a home energy audit and improve the efficiency.
  • Go for heat pumps in heating your home.
  • Put some green in your capital investments.
  • Select carefully what you purchase and buy less.
  • Eat less meat.

I have tried to follow these recommendations over the years and offer my experience.

My reflexes are slowing, and driving at night is bothersome: public transport is the alternative. Walking to the local restaurants and movie theaters is delightful. For shopping, I take our two-seat Smart car. For rural trips, we share a hybrid vehicle with my daughter's family, one of the first in Rome. We had only one battery problem in 14 years, which was covered by the warranty. Now we may purchase an electric car. In the US, Edmunds is a good guide for choosing an electric model. The leading electric vehicle brands by sales are presented in top sales.

The train service in Europe is excellent, and the train beats flying for short, less-than-a-day trips. We explore more locally, cutting down on long and intercontinental flights. When we do fly, I confess to computing the carbon emissions for the specific flight and doing the offsetting, fully aware that there is no guarantee that the offset will be an additional investment. However, there is nothing wrong with investing in energy efficiency and solar activities. The extra expense of offsetting raises my overall costs and will limit my long flights. My favorite offsetting site is Sustainable Travel. Another highly recommended one is Native.

We adore parks and green spaces. A meta-analysis of 143 studies in 20 countries shows that living near green space is associated with multiple health benefits. “Self-reported health, type II diabetes, all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, diastolic blood pressure, salivary cortisol, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and HDL cholesterol as well as preterm birth and small size for gestational age births. Reductions were also found for incidence of stroke, hypertension, dyslipidemia, asthma, and coronary heart disease” (Twohig-Bennett & Jones 2018, p. 633). View here the Greenest US Cities and those in Europe by Forbes. Donate to your favorite park and help create new ones. Lower-income citizens need more green areas, which raises the issue of how we should configure our cities.

Energy audits and improvements in home efficiency are now very popular in Italy and have strong federal incentives. For a 2023 Italian summary, see ENEA. In the US, there are good databases on all the various state incentives for renewable and energy efficiency measures at the site of Desire and the Department of Energy. At the federal level, your energy consultant will examine the renewable energy investment tax credit and the Section 45L new energy-efficient home credit of the Inflation Reduction Act to see how they apply to you. Energy Saver is a good site for viewing energy efficiency options for the home. Do not forget your efficient appliances. The installation of photovoltaic panels is impossible in my condominium, and I have no experience here, but it is an excellent opportunity for single houses. Begin with the DOE site, the essential home energy solutions, and ENEA for Italy.

Installing heat pumps was a no-brainer for us because it was getting hot in Rome, and heat pumps provided both heating and air conditioning. The main drawback is the upfront investment is greater than a furnace, but they save energy and money in the long run. In the last five years, there have been considerable technological improvements, and the pumps work in rather cold areas, as low as -16 degrees C. In cold regions, manufacturers and installers will provide a comparison of the systems. In all other zones, you certainly want to transition to heat pumps.

We are what we invest. My favorites are green bonds. The money raised from these bonds is used to make specific investments in renewables and energy efficiency, which are described in detail in the prospectus. Investopedia has a brief introduction to the subject. Green bonds are not always easy to find, and you will likely need help from your broker. In Europe, the Luxenberg Exchange has an international listing of green debt securities. They should not be confused with ESC-ranked funds or companies. You can also buy stocks in companies that build renewable or energy-efficiency equipment. It is riskier, but rewards can be great, including such past winners as NextEra Energy (NEE) and First Solar (FSLR).

Understanding what you are buying is the most challenging action. We should consider goods that favor the circular economy. That means extending the life cycle of products. A finished product could be shared, leased, used, reused, repaired, refurbished, and recycled before being discarded. The existing materials and products stay in use for as long as possible to extract the optimum value and create little waste from all parts of the product. In other words, the environmental, health, and climate costs are taken into consideration or internalized. One problem is that we are at the beginning of this and do not have complete and uniform information about the products, such as durability and repairability (Mebane 2022). You do your best to consider the ecological cost of a product, for example favoring local agricultural production with lower transportation impacts over imported produce with greater environmental damage. New services for sharing or leasing goods such as homes and cars have emerged. Ownership is no longer king. Services for recycling clothing and other personal goods are being offered. Sharing more and competing less on consumption may make us happier.

Excellent cooking is widespread; it is regional and international. The American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization agree that cutting back on meat can reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Population-wide studies have shown that the risk of mortality increases with additional daily meat consumption, especially red and processed meats. So, we should say let's enjoy more delicious fish, vegetables, pasta, pizza, vegan delights, and Mediterranean surprises rather than ask ourselves to limit eating red meat.

Habits are difficult to change. I still buy too much clothing, walk rarely, eat large “Fiorentina” steaks, drive excessively, leave lights and heating on when they are not needed, and take too many international flights. We need strong-willed partners, families, and friends to help us make a better world.


Mebane, W., (2022), Consumer and investor rights for a better world, Meer, 14 December. Twohig-Bennett, C., Jones A. (2018), The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes, Environmental Research, Volume 166, Pages 628-637.