Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My own welfare...

Several years ago, after receiving several awards for his contributions to environmental causes, Jim Fowler was quoted as saying "Sooner or later we've got to tie the saving of the natural world to our own public welfare."

No doubt, given his background, Mr. Fowler was talking about conservation of the earth's resources and minimizing our carbon footprint. When I read his quote it hit a different chord with me. Certainly I am investigating ways to decrease my own carbon footprint, rethink the relationship I have with 'Mother Earth' and teach my children respect to the environment. With the holidays having passed, and in such a frenzied manner, this quote and our relationship with the world mean one thing: consumerism. I spent most of the holidays absolutely amazed (borderline disgusted) with the present-purchasing movement.

You don't need to be a NOAA scientist to find the link between consumerism and the decline of the earth's resources. For me though, it is simple. In the madness that was the holiday season I found my notion of the world and it's people attacked, and my own personal welfare in jeopardy. In fact I mentioned to my Dad today, while watching the Rose Parade, that I longed for the simplicity of my youth. The days when watching the Rose Parade didn't make me smirk at the contradiction of a sign touting 'Preservation & Conservation' on a float filled with flowers that had been harvested solely for the purpose of a parading down the street. I've been to the Rose Parade and had a lot of fun spending the night, throwing tortillas, laughing at the horse dropping clean-up crew, and 'ahhing' at the floats. That was before I knew that it costs at least $3,000 to enter a float into the parade and at least $100,000 to build one. That means at least $4,944,000 just from float 'revenue' alone.

Granted some flowers are grown solely to donate their life to the parade. Granted this is a 119 year tradition that is honored by a lot of people. And I'm not meaning to pick on the parade. The example is a valid one. How many events, toys, products are exaggerated in meaning or price? How ridiculous is it that my bank has several teams of horses? That in addition to paying for the care of these horses they also enter floats in the Rose Parade!

In my own sphere, the only one I can influence, how ridiculous is it that my children spent most of Christmas day opening present after present after present? They were not gifts that we had bought, but I had failed to set an expectation with everyone else that my kids were not in need of anything. We've joked the last few days that out of everything they got the trumpet from the Dollar Store and the $2.00 airplane have been the hit!

My Grandma, who is in town, caught me at a vulnerable moment the other night and I found myself sharing more than usual (funny given what I share here). Eric joined us and we spent a good time talking about the mistakes made in the past. I touched on it in my previous post but the bottom line being: without clear goals Eric and I find it easy to put wants before needs and wants before future. She shared stories of stretching grocery money out for the month and then serving creative meals with any food in the house as the end of the month grew near. Her example of always picking up change she finds, even the now-neglected penny, because enough pennies collected meant 'a night on the town'. When we were cleaning up my Grandpa's things we found $49.00 in his wallet. She has made that $49 stretch - 'treating' herself to Taco Bell, a couple of movies at the dollar theater, and an ice cream cone or two. She still has $11 and it's been a month! How many of us can say that $49 would have lasted that long and treated us to so many things!?!

Credit cards were not options for them. Nor were pay day loans, or cash-advances. You saved up for the things you wanted and sometimes even for the things you needed.

When do we finally say: Yes! Less IS more. Less food on our plates wasting our money and growing our waists. Less gas being spent only to drive to over-priced movies, extravagant shopping malls, and big box stores. More time at the table playing games or talking with each other and less time tuned out in front of the tube.

When do we teach our children that the real message of Santa isn't behaving one way to get what you want, or writing long, detailed lists out but that of Saint Nicholas and his devotion to charity.

This post has gone on and 'off' more than I intended. Obviously there is a lot on my mind. Trying to revamp our life has made me think, discussing whether or not to teach our kids about Santa has made me think, learning more about Celiac disease has made me think, and reading posts like this one by Riana have made me think.

It is horrifying to realize that my own natural world is so polluted by things I've consumed
. It all boils down to me realizing that it is time to take control over my personal world. It starts with the phase I am in now. Realizing that there will always be stuff to by and that more money doesn't mean freedom if you just buy the more stuff. It means realizing the links between working to buy, buying and failing, saving to not work, saving and thriving.

No this isn't a New Year's resolution - though the timing is about right.
This involves a new attitude towards my consumerism, my nutritional habits, my time with my children, my time with my husband, my time with myself, and my effect on mother earth. And lots more to think about.

1 comment:

Terina said...

i'm glad i sent you over to riana's blog. she usually makes me think when i read her blog. i've started to make different food choices since i've read her blog. give me a call today if you need to talk about it.