Shopping is Important

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Last night, our book group dissected, rejected, and embraced The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken 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.


  • “….such as whether we really need to choose between social justice and environmental responsibility”. Well, you do not have to choose … and everything is connected, of course. But I do think that it makes good sense to define your priorities and focus limited resources –time, money, energy- .

    As a thought experiment, imaging your personal mission statement. It might be (A) “I will work toward making this world a better place” Or it could be more focused (B) “I will help to abolish poverty in this world” or alternatively (C) “I want to contribute to preserving a livable planet for future generations.”

    The way I see it, (B) and (C) help you to make decisions. For example, if you are asked to vote for and/or promote a carbon tax, the answer is clear. (B) No, find a way to tax the rich (C) Yes, force a change in driving patterns and car design. Or if you want give a percentage of your income to a worthy cause, (B) you give to the United Farm Workers or the Negro College Fund etc; (C) you give to the Sierra Club, Greenpeace or similar. In my mind (A) is not very useful, in fact it may make you feel overwhelmed and powerless in view of the large and complex problems of this world.

    Now having said this, I do not have a personal mission statement . Maybe that’s another topic worth a discussion over a bottle of organic/locally grown vine .

    Cheers, Barbara

    By Blogger Anna Banana, at 4:21 PM  

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