Shopping is Important

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I can't resist sharing this posting from the UU Ministry for Earth listserv:

Writing in the Washington Post on April 19 (OP ED: "Tilting at Windmills") Anne Applebaum addresses BANANAism as follows( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/18/AR2006041801188.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns )

"BANANAism: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.

"Still, energy projects don't even have to be viable to spark opposition:
Already, there are activists gearing up to fight the nascent biofuel industry, on the grounds that fields of switch grass or cornstalks needed to produce ethanol will replace rainforests and bucolic country landscapes.
Soon the nonexistent "hydrogen economy" will doubtless be under attack as well. There's a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?"

Last night, our book group dissected, rejected, and embraced The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken http://www.greenbiz.com/reference/bookstore_record.cfm?LinkAdvID=83. For those who haven't read it, the book pleads for a better way to be consumers (shopping is important!) and for business and government leaders to be more environmentally responsible.

Our group of four married couples (ages 40ish to 50ish) has been gathering at each other's houses for almost five years for book discussions and dinner. Six of us are scientists. Two work in the business world. Five are self-employed. Two were born outside the U.S. Three grew up on the east coast of the U.S. Three are native Californians. We're diverse, but not so much. We're all educated, white, reasonably well-off suburbanites and brought that economic perspective to the discussion.

Maybe it was the organic Cabernet that motivated some of us to say that we want to bring the message of sustainable development to a wider audience. But I believe I heard some of the book group members declare their intention to send their thoughts to me so I can post them on ShoppingisImportant. I'd really like to hear from everyone and to have a longer discussion about some topics, such as whether we really need to choose between social justice and environmental responsibility. Would Katrina have destroyed so many homes of poor people if the levee builders hadn't destroyed the wetlands surrounding New Orleans? If we don't slow global warming, won't the consequences be felt by those who can afford it least? Shouldn't we acknowledge that more electricity use means more coal miners getting mesothelioma? Please comment or send posts! MoL8r.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our co-ed book group is reading The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. It's a revolutionary book that lays out the case for Shopping is Important so much better than I will ever do. Here's a quote:

"We need to imagine a prosperous commercial culture that is so intelligently designed and constucted that it mimics nature at every step, a symbiosis of company and customer and ecology."

In case you think The Ecology of Commerce is a nice dream, but it’s a dream, check out one website of many that reports on companies that are making the dream come true:

http://www.greenbiz.com/resources/marketing/

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From the China Moon cookbook by Barbara Tropp:

SAVE THE WORLD! LEARN TO COOK!

I cherish a wacky notion that our American world would be a lot saner if we all had the time and knowledge to cook. If every one of our kids had a cooking class in school, if harried workers had a cooking holiday instead of sick days, and if politicians had to make a meal for their constituents and serve it to them once a month, our world might spin a bit better.

We'd grow more aware of our resources. We'd prize the land that brought us real cherries and great-tasting meat. We'd never pollute our oceans if we caught and cooked our own fish.

If I were president, I'd call for a full week's work halt so everyone could stay at home and cook. Friends would gather and eat, kids would curl up in contented balls, and the sound of happy burping would resound throughout the world.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Shop carefully for your blog enjoyment. Don't waste your precious time. When you need to take a break, try http://www.chickenblog.com/, an authentic personal blog with laughter, tears, and suspense. Try http://www.goingjesus.com/ for religiously inspired kvetching. Try http://smallfarms.typepad.com/ to remind you that you can choose to get your veggies from a local farm instead of a plastic-wrapped package at a life-sucking grocery store. There's community-supported agriculture in your area, check it out: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/. There are farmers' markets, too. And even better, you can grow your own. You don't have to give your $ to agribusiness, there's a better way. MoL8R.

Friday, June 09, 2006


This is Patrick el Gato. He's our beauty cat, our rescued 3-year old yummy sweetie pie. Seventeen pounds of love. We shopped for him at the local humane society. Shop carefully and you may be rewarded with cuddles and purrs.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Shopping is important. I never thought I would hear myself say it, let alone write it. I've spent most of my life avoiding shopping, either because I didn't have any money or because shopping was for girly girls and wannabees. And recreational shopping IS for girly girls and wannabees. But I'm not talking about that kind of shopping. I'm talking about taking the time to recognize that when you spend your $, you're not just buying something on a store shelf. You're giving your $ to the store that bought it to sell to you. And that $ is going to the wholesaler and the shipper. And that $ is going to the manufacturer. And that $ is going to the workers who assembled what you bought. And that $ is going to the companies that acquired the raw materials. And that $ is going to the people who grew, or dug up, or provided the raw materials to manufacture whatever your $ bought.

Look at your shirt label. My shirt was made in Peru. No clue where the shirt material came from. It's not organically grown material, so the people who grew the fiber were exposed to sprays and chemicals. The amount of $ they got from growing my shirt material was a tiny fraction of the cost of the shirt. Same for whoever made the fiber into shirt material. Same for the Peruvians who sewed the shirt, don't want to think about whether they were younger than my 15 year old or my 10 year old. The shirt was shipped to the US and distributed to the Chico stores. How much oil was used to ship the fiber to the weavers/knitters to the cutters to the sewers to the stores? Don't know, but I think about it anyway because when I bought my shirt, my $ went to all of those people. Is that where I want my $ to go? Is this the kind of economy that's best for the people my $ went to? I don't know, but I think it's important to recognize the truth of where my $ goes and how my $ affects individual humans and the world economy. I'm not saying I feel guilty or should feel guilty, just that I want to recognize the truth of where my $ goes. More later...