A 6-Step Program to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle

“The Green Living Program has demonstrated results and can make a real difference. In our work with communities across America this is exactly the sort of tool for which they are searching.”
– Molly Olson, executive director,
 President’s Council on Sustainable Development

The Green Living Program will assist you in translating your desire to do the right thing into a program of environmental action that will make a difference.

Americans as 5 percent of the world’s population consume 25 percent of the planet’s resources and waste up to 75 percent due to inefficiency and lack of awareness. Households directly consume one third of these resources, and indirectly use much of the rest through the purchase of products and services.

How we live is a big part of the problem. It can also be a big part of the solution if we adopt more environmentally sustainable lifestyles. That means exercising more care, or stewardship, in our use of the Earth’s finite resources (trees, water, energy, minerals, land) to ensure that there will be enough left for our children and their children.


Five to eight households—an EcoTeam—meet seven times over a four-month period and use a step-by-step workbook to create a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Choosing from a series of practical actions, the team supports one another to reduce waste, use less water and energy, buy green products, and encourage others to get involved. More than increasing awareness, the Green Living Program enables people to change the way they live – measurably.

  1. Using this handbook, you take action to develop sustainable lifestyle practices in five areas: garbage, water, energy, transportation, and consumption. The sixth action area, empowerment enables you to help others take action for the planet.
  2. You can do this program either with your household family members or as part of a peer support group of friends, neighbors, co-workers, or members of your faith community or civic organization—an EcoTeam. A good size for an EcoTeam is five to eight households. Doing it with other households is recommended as it strengthens motivation to complete the actions and is a lot of fun.
  3. In either format, the program is designed to be completed in seven meetings that take place every ten days to two weeks. Different team members run the meetings using scripts located in the support section of this handbook. Meetings last 1.5 to 2 hours, with several hours needed between meetings to take the selected actions. If you do the program as an individual household and live with others, turn your household members into an EcoTeam and adapt the meeting scripts accordingly. If you live alone and choose to do this on your own, use the program’s suggested time sequence to keep you motivated.
  4. In the team program, the first meeting—Team Building Meeting—you review each of the program elements, build a team, schedule the remaining meetings and choose people to lead them. During meetings 2 to 7, team participants report on actions taken and describe their action plans for the next section. The team provides support and inspiration for everyone to carry out their plans.
  5. Before each meeting, read all the actions from the related handbook pages, fill in that chapter’s Sustainable Lifestyle Assessment (Section 7) and decide which actions you will take. Then transfer your “will do” actions to the Action Log in the beginning of each section and decide when you will take the actions. If you live with others, discuss your plan with them to get their ideas and participation.
  6. Each action you take has a point value based on effort or resources saved. To keep track of your accomplishments, after you have done each action, check it off on your Action Log and fill in the “after program” column of the Sustainable Lifestyle Assessment.

That’s it! Have fun as you improve life on our planet.



If one or more of the following categories fit your situation, participating in the Green Living Program will be helpful.

  • You have a vague sense of what you should do for the environment, but beyond recycling, you don’t know what to do or how to do it.
  • You are well informed, but need motivation translating this knowledge into action.
  • You are doing many sustainable lifestyle practices, but need help achieving better consistency for each practice.
  • You are practicing a consistently sustainable lifestyle, but wish to go to the next level.

Results you can expect…

Depending on the community, participants in the Green Living Program, on average, achieve the following yearly resource savings:

  • 41%-51% less garbage sent into the waste stream
  • 25%-34% less water used
  • 9%-17% less energy used
  • 16%-20% less fuel used for transportation
  • $227-$389 saved through more efficient use of resources

All while improving the quality of life right where they live!


Green Living Program


The Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign is an education and outreach program to assist local governments, utilities and community-based organizations in implementing the Green Living Program. Empowerment Institute offers Social Change 2.0 community organizing leadership certification focused on implementation of the Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign and a customized community training.


Journey for the Planet
A Kid’s Five Week Adventure to Create an Earth-friendly Life

Journey for the Planet is a children’s version of Green Living Program for kids 8 to 12 years old. This program can be delivered in a classroom, after-school club, youth organization or for children of adults taking part in an EcoTeam. It is complemented by a twenty-six-lesson plan educator’s curriculum called the “Coach’s Guide.” Empowerment Institute offers a Journey for the Planet teacher certification.


To learn more about the Social Change 2.0 framework and research underpinning the Green Living Program see Social Change 2.0. 


“The Green Living Program is the most practical and well implemented program to help people create environmentally sustainable lifestyles.”
– Daphne Gemmill, Executive Director, Project Earthlink, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce