Surely by this point in history it is a no-brainer that if we want to preserve the planet’s ability to support life, we in the rich countries must cut back our consumption. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to reduce, or ideally completely eliminate, animal products from our diet. Yet vegans, who “get it” about the latter, often seem unaware of the former. In vegetarian magazines I see numerous ads for overseas travel and other luxury “vegan vacations”, for countless gourmet food items and high-fashion clothing and shoes. Every one of these has a carbon footprint to consider, especially flying around the globe for a brief getaway. The food and clothing items have a resource impact in their production, plus the packaging and energy it takes to ship them to our door.
When we bought our present home in 1999, the dishwasher was, shall I say, vintage. In recent months it had become noisy and wasn’t cleaning well; we were looking forward to replacing it with a more efficient model. After some days spent researching and shopping, we chose one that qualifies under the improved 2012 Energy Star rating system. I was amazed at how little water this model uses: less than three gallons per load. You’d have trouble washing dishes by hand with that amount of water, as just filling the sink would take about two gallons, plus you’d need rinse water. Its electricity use is modest too, although we don’t worry too much about that because our solar PV panels generate more electricity each year than we use. Continue reading Of Dishwashers and Durability→
For those of us concerned about poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change, the idea that economic growth underlies these problems will probably not come as a surprise. Growth–higher production of consumer goods, stepped-up extraction of resources, more and bigger houses, freeways and shopping malls–has been accepted almost unconditionally as the best way to run governments and assure prosperity. It is seen as the most potent answer to lifting people out of poverty and assuring full employment. Go out and shop more, we are told. Few people dare to publicly challenge the American religion of growth, and those who do should be read, supported, and discussed.
Part of my path toward a simpler lifestyle has been gradually to forego hair color and makeup. I’m mildly surprised that most women, as busy as we all are, still spend so much time and money on these products when it is so freeing to go without. I wore makeup for about twenty years, and colored my hair to cover gray from my late 30’s until late 40’s (I grayed prematurely). Women want to look younger and, in society’s terms, more beautiful, but have we really considered whether those standards of age and beauty are what we want to support? Are we more likely to attract the love or status we want by using these products? Furthermore, have we looked at their impact on our health, the environment, and the treatment of animals? Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading Rethinking Hair Color and Makeup→