Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolution: Eco-Dieting

Resource conservation can be understood in different ways - resources can be financial as well as material. When I looked over my first year's labels (the links at the bottom of the blog which take you to posts by topic) I was surprised that a blog about money actually had more labels about resource conservation and sustainability. That's because they're different facets of the same question: how to use resources wisely. Our culture is very materially wasteful - to our own peril, as we are learning.
Perhaps one of your new year resolutions is to minimize your ecological footprint, to use the earth's finite resources more wisely and more lightly. If you want to be inspired to go down that path, check out the teaser video below, part of a movie entitled The Story of Stuff. You can see the whole 20 minute video at the link. It pretty much tells the whole story of Western Civilization and its limited future. Ya' gotta love the video's producer: Free Range Studios: "creativity with a conscience!"

One of my personal goals is to fly as little as possible. I have edited much of my life style, "localizing" my routine activities, driving less, avoiding disposables, nearly vegetarian diet ... relatively low hanging fruit, once I started paying attention and focused on reducing my footprint. But flying, so carbon emission intensive, is a big part of an upper-middle class lifestyle. I have not yet heard of anyone I know willing to forgo airline travel. Many - if not most - of our family and friends fly for business or pleasure constantly, probably 10-20 flights a year. I have airline reservations for a Florida trip at the end of January. So I'm not committing to a fly-free life, but I am committed to becoming an Infrequent Flier.

What are your eco-resolutions?


Jacob said...

Thinking about my ecological footprint, downsizing, and not falling for the "need" to stuff a big house full of every toy available at Walmart was actually was initially made me change my lifestyle. A few years later, I thought, hey if I keep this up, I could actually retire in a couple of years. And so I kept it up and today I'm financially independent.
I think the only reason we spend 40-80 hours a week working is in order to consume, consume and consume. We work harder than the past generation and the only difference between them and us is that we have more stuff.
If we didn't need all that stuff, we could make do with only working 10-20 hours a week.. or just work 80 hours a week for 5 years and then retire young.

Betsy Teutsch said...

Amen, Jacob! It's true that happiness hasn't moved up in 50 years, as tested by psychologists. So the extra stuff is largely wasted. Tell us about your life lite! How do you spend your time?

Unknown said...

I've been thinking about my ecological footprint a lot over the past year. As I sit back and reflect, my soul needs me to do more.

So far,
1. I am keeping my house at 62-64 degrees...I am cold and I want to find some of the old heavy sweatshirts and sweaters I used to have but are now long gone.
2.I am researching water systems because I really hate our water and don't want to keep buying water bottles.
3. I am trying to buy less packaging.
4. Our family is joing an organic CSA that helps support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We will also volunteer to work so that low income families and shelters can have.

I think that is a good start.

Thanks for always making us think!

Unknown said...

I agree with all of your ideas, except this flying thing. Driving takes much longer, which uses more resources, crowds the roads, and is less safe than flying. However, I understand your personal reasons for not flying as often. Perhaps people who travel for business can advocate telecommuting. That's when businesses work onine or on the phone, right? That would certainly help.

I myself have reduced my consumption by a lot. I call myself an aconsumer, in that I am without (much) consumption. I really only buy food, for the most part, and never use plastic bags. I bring canvas bags to shop, use my own utensils, and cloth napkins. When I am in town, I rarely drive. I drive a low emission vehicle.

Thank you for your message. We all need to hear it, and apply it.

Peace, Michelle :)