So, did you hear that Earth Day was Monday? Yeah, I missed it too. It just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal that it used to, does it? Perhaps the novelty has worn off. Well, maybe this will grab your attention instead:
Fact – The United States comprises 5% of the world’s population but it consumes approximately 25% of its natural resources.
Yikes. How’s that for a fun statistic?
It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that this system can’t sustain itself. With China and India aiming to replicate our “success” there is no way that we can support this. It is time for us to acknowledge that this system is unsustainable.
Look, I’m not some complete tree-hugging, pot smoking, Oregonian. I don’t walk around in Birkenstocks in 3 feet of snow. I’ve never worn a tie-dyed shirt to work. I like to think that I am a pretty pragmatic person. I understand that we aren’t going to be able to save the planet by changing the habits of every single person on it. Still, I have to acknowledge that we are rapidly moving in a direction – on multiple levels – that is not sustainable. It should be pretty clear to anybody paying attention that we can not go on like this forever. Yet, how do you tell that to somebody who is dying because they don’t have access to something that you can purchase by the caseload at the grocery store?
Everywhere I look, we are destroying our only home. We continue to buy more and more junk, made out of non-renewable resources. (Did you know that most plastics are made out of petroleum, BTW?) Then we throw that junk into a landfill, where it will never decay. I mean- this is madness. What are we leaving behind for future generations? Are we really that selfish? Have we no conscience?
This is one of the many reasons that we have decided to live a frugal lifestyle. As Gandhi said, we are aiming to become the change we wish to see in the world. The less we consume, the less waste we create. The less we consume, the less energy we use. We know that we can’t save the planet on our own. None of us can. However, if enough of us make a change in our consumption habits, the total of our efforts can make a difference.
Our Attempt to Save the Planet
Here are a few of the changes that we have made in our lifestyle that are both saving money and helping us to save the planet:
- We purchased new windows and a door for our house. Since then, even though energy prices have risen, our gas bill usage and bill has gone down by about 20%.
- We bought a used hybrid vehicle. We bought a Toyota Prius about a year ago now. We love it. It drives great, it is comfortable, and it saves us money. Not only did we get it for about the same price as other comparable used cars, we have pretty much doubled our gas mileage. This helps us to save the planet by using less oil, and we spend half as much as we did before on gasoline. Double bonus!
- We have moved to a vegetarian diet. OK. OK. So, maybe we are tree huggers. Over the years, we have eaten less and less meat. Holly just doesn’t particularly like meat – with the exception of chicken and fish. I have never been a big steak eater, but have been known to enjoy a burger or two. However, I watched a great documentary called “Forks Over Knives” a few months back. It convinced me to cut back on my meat consumption even more because I believe it is a healthier lifestyle. Also, frankly, it is a way for my pocketbook to vote against the animal cruelty exhibited by many of the large meat producing farms. Furthermore, livestock production is a giant drain on our resources. In fact, 80% of the corn and 95% of the oats grown are used to feed livestock. In addition, over 50% of our farmland is used to raise cattle. We have the ability to grow enough food to feed about 10 billion people. Thus, our addiction to eating meat is a huge waste of resources. While the facts are uncomfortable for us to face, on a personal level they forced us to ask ourselves if we are doing what is best for everyone. When we realized this, how could we not change our own habits?
- We are going to power our home with solar. As you know, we may move into a different house one day – once we have this one paid off. Once we decide on our “forever home,” we plan to upgrade the power systems to solar power. While the initial investment may be fairly steep, the cost savings over the long run will pay us back in spades.
So, will you join us in our attempt to save the planet through living a frugal lifestyle? It doesn’t take much. Buying less is a good start. If we all just do a little, together, we can make a big difference. Not only will we be saving money, we will have the opportunity to save the planet and leave something for our kids…and their kids. So, what are you waiting for? Make one small change today.
What are you doing to save the planet?