Saturday, September 3, 2011

The First Step

I'm sure that there are some people who, if they read my last post (Walking Away, 8/23/11), would wonder what I was talking about. Even if they agreed with my analysis of what's wrong with this society, there is the question of how can you actually walk away from it--I mean short of heading out for a desert island.

I am going to suggest that the first step in walking away from this society is to stop buying all the stuff that they're trying to sell you that you don't need. If fact, stop buying stuff from the big corporations period. (See my post Boycott Corporate America, 9/12/08.) Start trying to figure out what you need and don't need, and buy what you need from small local businesses--or make it yourself, or reuse it. (See Reduce and Reuse, 11/24/09.)

As far as what we don't need, my guess is that we don't need most of it. What impresses me most is the folks that are determined to live on 10% of what the average American lives on. Back in 2007, Sharon Astyk and Miranda Edel started an online challenge to get their emissions down by 90% of the American average. They got several thousand people to participate in this. (See Riot!, 9/28/08.) Now Sharon Astyk is doing it again. She's challenging folks to use 10% of the transportation energy, use 10% of the electricity, use 10% of the heating and cooking fuels, use 10% of the water, create 10% of the garbage, use 10% of the food from the mainstream industrial food system, and buy 10% of the consumer goods that the average American does.

The 'Rioters' aren't the only ones looking at this question. Laird Schaub, a consultant on group process and consensus decision making who lives in an intentional community called Sandhill Farm, just wrote a six part piece in his blog on "My Summer of Sustainability", where he explicitly mentions the question of "How to create a vibrant, satisfying lifestyle that uses only 10% of the resources that the average American is currently consuming."

What we are talking about here is people in the US (and other countries in the 'developed world') living the way much of the rest of the planet does. What we are talking about is (to paraphrase Elizabeth Seaton) 'living simply so that others may simply live'. It won't get us to a new world by itself, but it's the first step.

Quote of the Day: "The lower we get our energy and resource consumption, the better prepared we are for our emergent future in which we are constrained by limits of climate, resources and wealth. If you recognize we cannot go on as we are, we must not wait for someone else to lead the way - it is time to make the changes that are needed ourselves." - Sharon Astyk

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