consumption vs production

Posted: June 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: consumerism, green | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why do you think we always feel like we need more? More clothes, more furniture, more books, more gadgets, more junk food, more more more more more. If the human race were a chick, we’d definitely be that needy chick that is never satisfied (now that’s a terrifying thought).

Everyone’s talking minimalism these days, and I just found this excellent video that brings up some interesting questions about our wild consumption habits and how it affects production (and ultimately, our health and the environment). It’s not super short, but it’s a great watch. (Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed the video!)

It also touches on our workaholic American ways (after all, you don’t get stuff without first getting a lot of money to buy that stuff). BTW, did you know that the US has less paid vacation days per year than Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, and Japan? That’s a long list to be at the bottom of.

But let me get back on track. I’m not sure about you, but things like this definitely make me question my motives for needing x, y, and z. They say that the best way to promote change (whether it be in manufacturing, food production, whatever) is to ‘vote with your dollar.’ Lately I’ve been trying to be smarter and more mindful about the things I consume – do I really need this? How will it positively impact my life, my health? Will I have this for years to come? Or will it wind up in a dump? How will it impact the life of the person who made it? Should I buy this cheap version & replace it with something nicer down the road, or just save for the nicer version to begin with? Things like that.

It hasn’t been too difficult of a change for me – I’m not a big fan of clutter to begin with, and it feels great to think you’re making a difference of any kind. Knick knacks & the like really aren’t my thing anyway, paired with the fact that I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life and just haven’t had the room. And honestly, I feel much less distracted and claustrophobic when my home isn’t packed to the brim with crap. Over the past year or so I’ve donated loads upon loads of random junk I’ve accumulated over the years (rather, I put it in a box, Julian takes it). Guess what? I haven’t missed any of it. Not one single time have I thought, “Man, I really wish I still had that lamp/candle holder/sweater/DVD/etc.” What does that go to show you?

Have you made any changes to try and simplify your possessions and/or reduce your consumption? Any good tips, articles, websites? Please share!

Photo: Tornados In Brooklyn

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photos: caught in the oil (disgraceful)

Posted: June 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: good, green | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Most of my posts are light-hearted and full of of happy-go-lucky quips, but I have to say, the photos below have filled me with anger. I am ashamed of everyone involved in the oil spill, down to my own self for contributing, even in some small way, to the monumental devastation to this has caused that vast area in the Gulf. There is no price you can put on the environmental and wildlife destruction. This is not just “business,” my friends – this is our planet. Our home. We don’t have room to make mistakes of this magnitude.

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These poor, poor animals. These helpless creatures didn’t do a single thing to deserve being smothered and drowned in oil to feed our greed and selfish behavior. And we think WE have it bad because the Starbucks barista gave us caff instead of decaf and Target is out of our favorite brand of toothpaste. It makes me want to scream and cry until I’m blue in the face.

What can we do to help?

1. For starters, check out the organizations who have made it their mission to clean up the coast and restore balance to the ecosystem. Donations help fund efforts, but volunteering (if you’re in the area) is amazing, too.

2. Speak up for cleaner energy choices. Contact legislators and demand they finish the job they started and get America cleaner and safer energy choices.

3. Help spread the word online. You’re on Twitter and Facebook all day, anyway. Sacrifice one of your mundane updates and post a link to an article, a photo, a video – anything that will spread awareness. The more that know, the better!

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Cairo’s ‘Garbage City’ Makes Me Feel Dirty

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: consumerism | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Blech. I feel dirty. And you probably will, too, after taking a look at these photos of ‘Garbage City’ the ‘WALL-E’-esque town outside Cairo, Egypt that is overrun with trash, trash and more trash! This is an actual place in Egypt that seems to exist solely for housing the 10,000 tons of daily trash from Cairo.

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Icky icky poo. Take a long, hard look at this, my friends, because this is where we are headed if we keep feeding the consumer beast that lives within all of us, telling us that we need more, more, MORE!

See the rest of the photos at Inhabitat.

Side note: There is a community of 60,000 people, called the Zabbaleen, who reside in the city and make a living by collecting, sorting, reusing, reselling and repurposing Cairo’s trash. Their innovative method of solid waste disposal has won them awards, but on Jan 1, Egypt is ending the Zabbaleen’s contracts and replacing them with foreign waste management companies. The switch will cause 60,000 people to lose their jobs. Their story is actually quite interesting, they are mostly Coptic Christians who came to the city as peasants about 50 years ago and began collecting garbage in shopping carts on the outskirts. In the 80s, they began manufacturing the trash with the help of a development agency. With the money they earned, they have been able to upgrade their neighborhoods, educate their children (all currently enrolled in school), create jobs for women and improve their equipment and methods. Here is a great article with loads of info.

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NO IMPACT MAN

Posted: September 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: books, food, good, green, health, home, LA, movies | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

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Sunday night, my boyfriend and I (along with my coworker Chris and his beautiful wife Kelly) attended a free screening of No Impact Man at Environmentaland in LA. It was, in a word, inspiring. I first heard about No Impact Man about a year ago, maybe more. In a nutshell, NIM is Colin Beavan’s year-long attempt to live with no environmental impact.

Dragging his wife and daughter along for the ride, Colin documented his experiences via film, writing and blogging each step of the way, no electricity, no elevators, no cars, no garbage, even no toilet paper. Watching them as they graduated from struggling to thriving while living without television and buying all their own food at a farmers market (even visiting the local farm on which their food was grown), I quickly understood just why someone would want to give up all these simple, convenient comforts. Aside from killing our planet, which is more than alarming, it makes me a little ill to think of all the things we’ve come to depend on. Surely this over-consumptive behavior isn’t the way we were intended to live – is it? What happened to good old fashioned one-on-one entertainment with the people we love and planet we live on?

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Before I get into a big rant here, I’ll get to the point. You should all watch this movie, which opens nationwide on Sept 11. I believe it has something to teach everyone (and for the record, his wife is abs. hilarious.) The Q&A with Colin after the film gave the very small audience a more intimate look into why Colin embarked on this daunting adventure (much of which has carried over in his day-to-day), and what he has learned from it. His book just hit bookstores yesterday and I plan on buying it.

Here are some other things I plan on doing:

    -First of all, I want to sell my car. Whether or not I’ll be able to is yet to be determined. I have a brand new car that I just bought last summer, and I’m no dummy – I know turning around and selling would create a big fat void in my bank account. Plus, I live in LA. I only work 2 miles from home, so biking wouldn’t be bad, but there is the occasional need for a car. Perhaps selling and buying something cheaper is the solution? We’ll see. Onto smaller goals.
    -No more plastic bags! Simple, and absolutely necessary. I’m not about to add to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch anymore than I already have… I’m buying a few more reusable grocery bags and gosh darnit I’m gonna use ‘em.
    -While we’re on plastic, no more plastic bottles. I felt kind of silly sitting with a plastic Smart Water bottle at the movie premiere, but what other choice did we have when they were serving free wine (organic in cornstarch cup from a cardboard box, btw) and had no AC (they really meant it when they said “NO impact.”) I have a Camelbak that works perfectly fine, there is no need to litter up the planet with even more plastic bottles.
    -Use less electricity. I have a big apartment, and it takes a bit of light to brighten this place up. But I love candles, and have windows on three sides of my apt, so why waste electricity? It’s more romantic, anyway. Unplugging appliances will be necessary as well.
    -Less, if any, TV. I’m a busy girl as it is, so I don’t watch a ton of TV. I have my favorite shows, though, so I am currently “borrowing” slash housing my friend Serena’s flat screen while she’s rendezvousing in NY for who knows how long. My old tube-style TV is just sitting here in the corner. I think I might sell the old fashioned TV, use Serena’s for now, and then ween myself off of it after she takes it. I don’t really need cable these days anyway – hello, Hulu! At most I might get another display and hook it up to the good old laptop for movie and TV watching. Shows are better on DVD anyway.
    -This is the most fun one… BIKING!!! I can’t wait to buy a bicycle and ride it EVERYWHERE. I’m a little nervous about “urban cycling,” especially in a city where everyone takes cycling very seriously. I don’t need a fancy pants bike, I just want to pedal, man! To the grocery store, to work, to the bank, to yoga, to my friend’s house, to wherever my day takes me. I can’t WAIT to drive less and bike more.

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photo: meganduffy

I am also going to limit myself to five vices. This is a pretty big thing, so I haven’t quite decided what my five will be (but I can assure you coffee and french fries are two one of them). Not sure how this fit into my impact equation but it did, so I’m leaving it for now.

At one point Colin was pointing out the advantages to living in urban environments – community, for one. On that note, I have to say one of the things that I love about living in a big city like this (despite the terrible air quality and overall yuck factor) is the opportunity to go to events like this. Even if they did refuse to turn on the air conditioning. I’ve lived without AC in my apartment for 2.5 years now, and I’m doing just fine!

Interested in how you can lessen your impact? Here are Colin’s top 10 ways in which you can decrease your impact. #1? Stop eating beef.

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A Dress Made Entirely Out Of Coffee Filters

Posted: June 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: fashion, good | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Great googly moogly. This has nothing to do with technology but I don’t care because this is my blog and I’ll write about what I want. So there! This dress is made entirely from coffee filters… which is very green, but also sounds a little scratchy. It’s surprisingly cute.

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The dress is made by an 18 year-old girl named Aimee Kick, an aspiring fashion designer from Missouri who is apparently KICKing butt. She wore this little number to her prom. SMILE, Aimee, you’re famous!

This reminds me of one of the first runway shows I ever did, back in Richmond, VA in 2001… yes, it was a very long time ago. The show was called ‘Wearable Art’ and I wore a dress made out of metal washers, hinges, bolts, screws, etc. It sold for $2500.

It also reminds me of my senior prom. My Mom made my dress, it was yellow, sparkly, and gorgeous – but that’s not the funny part. I decided to be like, totally, stylish to crimp my hair. This turned out to be not such a great idea after all, but I only discovered it when it was too late to go back and start over. So I went to the prom with puffy eyes from crying and hair that looked like a lampshade. At least my Mom thought I looked beautiful. But who gives a care about high school anyway? Glory days my butt!

via Neatorama

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