Friday, January 4, 2008

Drastic Measures

I reread this post that Carrie wrote almost two months ago wrote about Taking Drastic Measures. I thought a lot about how much the doctor and his family had scaled down to live a more simple life, with lots of measures for conservation.

In a way, I feel that I already live with conservation in mind. I lived in a small apartment in Paris and will also live in a similar sized one in Rome. We only have two bedrooms, so if we have more children, they will have to share a room. Room sharing honestly appeals to me anyway, since many studies point to it's many benefits. Other than the two bedrooms and baths, we have a kitchen, dining room, living room, and balconies. That's it- just around 1,000 square feet. We have one parking space and only one car. In fact, we've only had one car for almost three years and we didn't drive it more than once a week. Before that, we lived with no car at all. We use biodegradable diapers for Love Bug and she was (still is a few times a day) breastfed, which reduces energy consumption because you don't need to sterilize bottles and heat formula.

We bring our own bags to the grocery store. With no disposal, our trash needs to be taken out more due to smell, than due to being full. We probably only fill one medium trash bag a week. I easily fill two recycling bins a week. We only have one TV and one computer, which are both only on a few hours a day.

But I also wonder if I could do more? We have lived the last three months with just what we could carry in a few suitcases. So could I live that simply all the time? Conservation is not just about how little you use or how little you throw away, but it's also about how little you have. We don't own a lot of stuff, we rent movies, borrow books, and only buy things we absolutely need. We buy most of our music online now and transfer it onto our iP.ods, so that a jewel case and CD are not wasted. But could we push more to make sure those things aren't even produced if they're not needed? Could we push more to make sure food is distributed more evenly so that food does not go bad sitting on shelves in the US, while people in other places go hungry?

This has to come from political and social change in our country. We can all live with conservation in mind, but we must also vote with conservation in mind. I won't tell you who to vote for, and in fact, I won't even tell you who I'm voting for, but it should weigh heavily on your mind when you go to vote for the President this November. It's a huge issue for our country. My experiences in France have shown me that we need to do more. They charge customers for grocery bags and wrap their baguettes and pastries in just paper. Public transportation is encouraged when possible. From hearing a few friends in Germany, including Susan, it sounds like they are incredible at conserving, even better than in France. Why are we so behind and so unconcerned with the future of the planet for our children?

My goals are to really look at everything as we unpack, so I can give even more of our household goods and clothes to charity. I also want to look at my life and see how I can do more to reduce my use of materials and energy. Finally, I want to really see what I can do to reduce our household waste by recycling more.


Jacquie said...

What a great post. Definately makes one think.

Susan said...

The Europeans do challenge us. To tell you the truth, I don't know what the candidates are saying about this issue in the US. Thanks for reminding me to take a look at that. Sadly, I am still undecided about who I am voting for. I need to get on the ball, the whole Iowa caucus was crazy. Will see what happens in NH.

carrie said...

Loved this, Abbey! It's so important, and I appreciate you sharing what you're doing in your own life. Thinking of you as you travel and settle in . . .