Shopping is Important

Monday, February 19, 2007

Belief is involuntary. I read that in the New Yorker, a famous philosopher, Churchland, said it. So belief is more like an emotion. I feel, therefore I believe. Some people don't believe in global warming, said a letter writer to the local paper. Just like so many smokers didn't (don't?) believe that cigarettes can kill you.

When you're invested in a belief, like you believe you need a giant car, you have a hard time believing that your big car is contributing to climate change. Conflicting beliefs, like conflicting emotions, just don't feel good. I believe it's going to take a long time for many people to feel the urge to make changes that are good for the Earth. I hope it doesn't take too long.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Do you have a filing system? I just re-did mine and it only took about an hour. The old system wasn't working for me. It went like this: OMG I can't deal with this now! Shove paper into Do Soon v. Things to File v. Taxes piles. Around first of the month, go through Do Soon pile and pay bills just in time or late. Go through Things to File pile when I can't find something. I spent way too much time going through my Things to File pile because I never filed anything. (To tell the absolute truth, I do file stuff about the kids and the cat in easily accessible folders near the mail table.)

The Taxes pile was the only good thing about this system, because I cleared it out every year. I just cleared out 2006, and it led to my discovery of the best filing system ever (patent pending). All it requires is one folder per year. I went through my Things to File pile and sorted by year. Before you laugh at how many years I sorted, let me tell you the reason I had to sort through so many years: 9/11. Right after 9/11, my investment guy told me I probably shouldn't open my statements for a while, which I extended into more than 5 years. For tax reasons, I did open them a few times a year. But I had a pile of about 30 I hadn't opened since 9/11. So, yes, I got out 6 folders and marked them 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. I sorted the Things to File pile into these 6 folders, and now I'm done.

I have concluded that there is absolutely NO reason to sort your papers into separate files for your bills, your insurance, your bank statements, whatever. It's either related to your Taxes or it's not. At the end of the year, go through your Things to File pile and see if anything is in there that should have gone into the Taxes pile. Scoop up the rest, put it in a folder, and shove it in a drawer. Don't be tempted to file any of it. It's a waste of time.

What does this have to do with Shopping? If you have the world's simplest filing system, you will only file once a year, and you will have more time for other things like spending your $ wisely on locally produced products or growing your own veggies.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Did you know??? Only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the world's food system is used in production; the other 90% goes into packaging, transportation, and marketing. Buy local! Check out and enter their Buy Local Challenge. You can enter their drawing to win a free box of local food. I just did!

Today I picked up my box of local farm grown food. For $20 I got bok choy, strawberries, arugula, romaine lettuce, oranges, apples, carrots, cabbage, and celery. Enough for 2 weeks, and it stays fresh that long because it didn't have to travel a zillion miles before it got to me. Oh, BTW, it's all organically grown and really delicious. Join a community-supported agriculture group and get your own box of veggies. Or grow your own, even better! What are you having for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Have you heard of It's not the glossy magazine, Real Simple, that has a lot of products you "need" to be organized. I get the simpleliving newsletter, which is about ways to reduce your standard of living to simplify your life so you can live according to your values. I think people who have read Your Money or Your Life get the values message without much introduction, but those who haven't read it might think that it's just Real Simple Cheap. An article in the latest issue of the newsletter is really sticking with me. The author lives so frugally that he doesn't pay federal taxes. The reason he does this is because it's against his principles to pay for the war in Iraq. The title of the article is Your War Doesn't Fit into my Budget, Frugal Living as a Form of Tax Resistance. Here's a factoid from the article: the average American household has given $4000 toward the Iraq war effort so far. My conscience is bothering me. How do you feel?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We did a little furniture shopping! After admiring Nutalie's beauteous hand-crafted David Marsh cabinets and shelves for years, we got ourselves one of his coffee tables. He makes furniture from wood reclaimed from barns and old houses and teaches young people the craft of carpentry. Not just hammering and nailing, but decorating the pieces with colorful swirls and beads. When it's all done, everyone who worked on the piece signs his or her name inside or underneath. Sometimes there are groovy messages, like the ones we got: "Ha!" "Quazi" and "Boing Ding!" "That's to tell the customer," says Marsh, "if you don't love it, don't buy it, and to remind the worker, if it's not fun, don't do it." He adds: "Joyfullness is not an accident!"

To create something joyfully! What a great message to pass on. We got much more than a coffee table. Thanks, all you furniture crafters in Austin!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007! Well, my little corner of the world has lots to be happy about, relatively healthy, wealthy, and wise, etc. But today I can't stop thinking about the 3000 Americans who've died in Iraq and the 800,000 Iraqis who've died ( since we invaded that country. How is this related to ShoppingisImportant? Maybe we wouldn't be over there if we didn't have an addiction to oil. Maybe if we shopped more carefully (buy local!) in fuel-efficient cars we wouldn't need as much mideast oil.

We need to shop very carefully for our next president. Anyone who thinks that Al Gore's presidency would have been no different from GWB's isn't paying attention (not sure about Kerry...). The way I see it, the democratic dominated congress and senate have about a year to show the people who voted for them that democrats can run the country better than republicans. If they can't do that, we're going to get another republican in the white house. It's up to us to hold our representatives accountable. Let them know what you think! And if you decide you like one of the presidential hopefuls, vote with your $ and send them a few bucks. Shop, then vote as if our future depends on it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Greetings of the season! We're enjoying the solstice/festivus/Xmas, etc. Holiday with a real tree (though 2 of us argued for an artificial one). I rushed around a little earlier in the month and then had to stop rushing and start icing post knee surgery. Between vicodins I've had time to read, enjoy visitors, and reflect on where I want to put my energy in the new year. It's like trying to figure out the unified field theory of effort. I know when it feels right. Like buying gifts at the alternative gift fairs. Like using all the veggies in my Community Supported Agriculture box and sneaking some into my family's dinners. Like spending time with friends making gingerbread houses. I know when it feels wrong. Like making an extra car trip to pick up unhealthy, unappetizing food because I know that's what my family will eat. Like going to order/pay/eat restaurants where they process the processed food from the central warehouse. Like buying stuff made who knows where under who knows what working conditions and resulting in who knows what kind of environmental consequences.

How will we know when more people are voting with their $? The parking lots at malls and big box stores will be empty. People will shop at farmers' markets and will cook at home. When they go out to eat, it will be to restaurants that bought their food at the farmers' market. People will eat less meat and only meat from farms that treat their animals in a humane way. (Vegans, go to this link for "how we will know" People will demand to know to whom and to what institutions they are giving their $.

When I figure out the unified theory of effort, I'll let you know. In the meantime, enjoy your Holiday in whatever way it's meaningful for you.