Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What would I Buy?

Hey everybody. It’s been a while again since I posted. I got caught up in the frantic pace of the semester. Between work, studying for midterms, writing term papers, and all the other things that accompany day to day life, there was a couple of weeks there where I didn’t have enough time to sleep, much less blog! Things have calmed down again, thankfully. Unfortunately, part of that wasn’t my choice –I lost my job last week. Surprisingly, I’m not nearly as upset as one would think. Sure, I’m out of work, but between my savings (thriftiness pays off!) and my unemployment benefits, I’ll be okay for a while. And truth be told, I absolutely hated that job so I’m not sad about no longer going there everyday. I’m actually able to get out of bed now without forcing myself!

I ran to the store today to develop the film from my church’s Halloween party and pick up some grocery staples. The only other thing I bought was another package of CFLs to replace a few more of my incandescent lightbulbs. I know, I’m out of work right now –but this was my gift to the Earth for the fall season. Every CFL saves 300 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of its lifetime. So, by spending eight dollars on a pack of lightbulbs, I kept 900 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere! I’m trying to do my part to save this fragile, weary, wonderful world we call home –job or no job.

One thing that struck me as I wondered around the store waiting on the photos to be developed was how much STUFF was there. There were doodads and gadgets and thingabobs galore. Everywhere. My house could have fit into a corner of the store and yet even that amount of stuff wouldn’t fit in it if you crammed every single inch of it full. Most of the stuff was other junk too, plastic things wouldn’t last very long and would eventually wind up in the garbage. Ditto the last for pretty much everything in that store. They were all ready putting Christmas items out! I was astonished –it is just now Halloween! Then I was outright upset when I went through electronics and discover that they have a tv there that costs over 2000 dollars. That’s four times what I paid for my first car! For a tv? I don’t think so, not even if I one the lottery.

That got me thinking about the question so commonly posed in our consumerist society (you can see I had too much time on my hands in this store, lol): If I suddenly came into a large amount of money, what would I buy? After due reflection, I realized that the answer was very little. I would pay off all my debts, including my mortgage and put myself through school, assuming the money was enough for that. But what would I buy? Not much, and most of it used. A really good set of cookware and bakeware for my kitchen; I’m always cooking, and since I’m in grad school on a limited budget my pans are the cheapest I could find. I could really use some that are decent! I would buy a freezer to store produce in, a pressure canner to can produce, another stockpot for the same reason, and a sewing machine to help with my crafts. And some things for the garden –a hoe and wheelbarrow (I’ve been making do without them) and some berry bushes. That’s about it. Of all the things in this consumerist society that I could go out and buy, that’s all I would get. And just about all I want in the world.

Except for my degree and a good job. And a spouse and kids. But those things can’t –and shouldn’t be –bought.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Very, Very, Rude Awakening

I had a really rude awakening today. Well, actually I had two. One was the one you’re probably thinking of –the nuclear weapons test in North Korea. The other had absolutely nothing to do with that, and is even more ominous.

Today is World Overshoot Day. It’s the day every year when we’ve used up the regenerative capacity of the earth for that year. In other words, the point at which we begin liquidating the environment in order to support ourselves. Look here for more information: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot.The first one was in December of 1987. As of now, we are using up 30% of the Earth’s regenerative capacity just to maintain our lifestyles every year.

That sounds awful, and it is. But it gets even worse. That’s the insidious nature of exponential growth. You see, our environmental demands are growing every year. I was so shaken by this that I pulled out some environmental science books I have and made some quick calculations. These books are a little bit dated, but the numbers in there are still accurate as far as I know. I used two facts to analyze this, and the results were absolutely terrifying. These were:
The average annual growth in human demand on the environment is 5.5%
Ecosystems tend to collapse when demand on their capacity reaches no more than 50%. Sometimes they collapse at lower levels, but always by this point.

I did not trust the result I got in my calculator, so I plugged the numbers into Excel. The result? The year we will pass 50% of capacity if demands keep growing at the current rate is 2016. The year two thousand sixteen. That is only TEN YEARS FROM NOW. And remember, ecosystems tend to collapse at less than half capacity.

We’re not talking about an isolated ecosystem here –we’re talking about the ENTIRE PLANET. So, what does this mean? I think it means that we are in deep, deep trouble.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I have fruit trees!

I took another big step on the road forward today. My main goals are to live more simply, more sustainably, and more self-sufficiency. I would like nothing more to live on 5 or 10 acres with a big garden, a cow, some chickens, and an orchard. And an old colonial style farmhouse. With a bunch of children playing in the front yard, lol. I hope that dream will come true someday. But it will be at least 10 years before I can move onto my farm, so for now I am determined to figure out how to accomplish my goals as much as I can where I am at now.

Towards that end I have been working on all things detailed at length in this blog: gardening, Compacting, etc. Well I have been thinking for some time how much I love fruit. It’s very expensive and I try to only buy it locally and in season. Peaches and apples are my favorite tree fruits, but I also love raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. I got to looking around my property and realized that I have more than enough room in the back for berry bushes and in the front for a couple of small trees. So, I researched the matter, and then went to the nursery today at lunch and bought two semi-dwarf fruit trees. One is a Golden Delicious apple tree, and the other is Belle of Georgia peach. They are both self-pollinating and will only grow to about 12 feet. I’m going to plant them this weekend and in a couple of years I will have my own fruit! They weren’t very expensive either, less than 20 bucks each! So, for less than the price of going to the movies with a friend, I bought a fruit tree! In the spring I think I will get a few raspberry and blackberry bushes for the back.