Shopping is Important

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Yesterday was Buy Nothing Day. We spent it attempting family fun, which didn't work out to be as fun as we thought, but we tried. It's hard to tempt a teen and pre-teen with the prospect of a beautiful drive and lunch out. You don't want the gory details. Bottom line, the 11-year old is grounded for a week. The 16-year old has to wait 5 extra days to get his driver's license once he's ready. Lame? Yes. I feel like I should go back to parenting school. Oh wait, there is no parenting school. I think what I'm trying to say here is that we're suffering the effects of getting caught up in the hi-tech culture. When we got all these electronic toys and gradually stopped doing outdoor things together (though we keep trying), we were setting up the exact situation we had yesterday: kids literally kicking and screaming in the car. Buy Wisely Every Day. Shopping is Important.

Glad I received this photo of me from the home build; it lifted my spirits. I'll post more when I get them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Have you started your Christmas, Chanukah, and Winter Solstice shopping yet? I have. Today, I spent a bunch of $ at an alternative gift fair. Tree seedlings to be planted in Africa or Mexico. Organic coffee. Crafts from Bangladesh, Africa, Mexico. How does that differ from buying crafts at the mall? These are fair trade crafts, with the artisans getting enough of the profit to improve their lives.

The fair was at the Presbyterian church on the other side of the freeway from our UU fellowship. They're much bigger than we are. When people shop for their religious experience, most don't end up at the UU. We don't offer salvation, they do. But I'm not sure that's a major reason people choose their religion. I think it's like food. If it's familiar, it's more palatable. Or if the dogma's not palatable, at least it's comfortable. And this church is big on service and youth involvement, a lot like the UU in this way. Excellent to find much in common with these Christians. We should do more together with people from other local congregations. As Rev. Kathy used to say, what we do during the week is more important than what we say on Sunday.

If you don't have a religion, I recommend shopping for one. Pick one where you feel comfortable and challenged at the same time. Find a congregation that feels like home, a clergy person you like is an added bonus, but it's the congregation that will keep you going. It may take you a long time to find one you like, but keep shopping, it's worth it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A vegetarian friend sent this from earthsave.org. Something to think about as we approach the season of eating. I'm not saying everyone should stop eating meat, I'm saying we should broaden our food choices so that we eat less meat. Delicious and healthy vegetarian food is out there. Give it a try!

"Methane and Vegetarianism
By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture.

Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled. Whereas human sources of CO2 amount to just 3% of natural emissions, human sources produce one and a half times as much methane as all natural sources. In fact, the effect of our methane emissions may be compounded as methane-induced warming in turn stimulates microbial decay of organic matter in wetlands—the primary natural source of methane.

With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills—but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. And this source is on the rise: global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating. About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, and while a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the hundreds of millions of livestock animals worldwide is enormous. An additional 15% of animal agricultural methane emissions are released from the massive “lagoons” used to store untreated farm animal waste, and already a target of environmentalists’ for their role as the number one source of water pollution in the U.S."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Election day is on Tuesday. How could you miss the signs? Many of us take time to evaluate how we'll vote, especially on those propositions. Done right, this is time-consuming, but gratifying to have an opinion and express it.

Election day comes a few times a year and good citizens cast their votes because it's our right and privilege to vote. But you don't have to wait for election day to cast your votes. You can vote every day with your $. Imagine you've been given a ballot when you go to the store. You can tell the makers of unhealthy food that you don't want their lousy products. You can tell the organic farmers that they should plant more veggies because you care about the Earth and your family's health.

Just like voting on election day, you may feel like your little vote doesn't make much of a difference, but your economic vote cast every time you shop eventually does add up. Grab your cloth bags and go shopping. It's important.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nutalie and family just moved. Close by instead of far away, thank the goddess. It's been really hard for her for reasons she writes about on her chickenblog. She's moved 3 times in the 10 years I've known her and each time I feel for her, but also have a bit of envy. Ahhh to start over in a new place. We haven't done that in almost 14 years. And as of last night, it's even less likely we'll move for a long time. That's right, we did what millions are doing all over the US: we got a home equity loan.

Here's what our financial advisor (aka broker) told us. It's important to get one of these loans when you don't need it because you can't get one when you do need it. Here's what he hasn't been telling us all these years. Spend less, save more and you'll never need a home equity loan. And here we are, with an empty backyard and a contractor who likes to be paid for his work (the nerve!). And the broker devil was whispering to us, go ahead, get the loan, don't shop for it, Morgan Stanley will make it easy for you. Think of the security you'll feel when you have college tuition due. You'll know it's there, you use it now and pay it back later, you're going to love it!

I'll tell you something that convinced me to get this loan. We're not getting any younger. Our #1 son will be ready for college in less than 2 years making extra $ hard to find. So it started to seem like it was now or never to remodel the yard. And maybe we're going overboard, with a fountain and flagstone and the rest, but hey, there's no pool, no spa. It's mostly flowers. And as I get older, it's easier to imagine my golden years outside in the yard growing stuff. It's an investment, I tell myself, with visible rewards. What kind of shopping (or not shopping) rationalizations are you using?