Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Flu and TRASH!

I was looking forward to yesterday. Getting out to vote and watching the whole landmark election process take place and unfold on the news. My boys both had the day off from school, so with beautiful weather forecasted and the opportunity to take them with me to vote ... I was giddy with excitement. However, around 1am yesterday morning .... I came down with the flu. Can you believe it?! Both kids at home, husband at work, chills, aches, mild fever and ... other flu symptoms that I will spare you. :) I was determined that even if I had to shuffle into my polling location with a bucket -- I was going to VOTE!! I'd waited too long! So, around 10:30am I threw on some clothes and tried to look respectable, packed the kids in the car and off we went (Not to worry, I used antibacterial gel and didn't touch or get near a soul!). Thankfully, it was very busy, but line-less. I shuffled in -- cast my votes -- and shuffled out. The poor boys were anxious to do something fun and all I could do was survive and make sure they didn't get into mischief. It was brutal. As I ached away, I watched t.v. and did manage to see all of the polling results, the concession speech and the acceptance speech. No matter what you think of Obama, as my "less government" Portuguese Citizen History Major husband said last night "That guy gives a friggin' incredible speech! He can even inspire me!"
TRASH: I did manage to read the paper yesterday and ran into a very interesting article. The subtitle read: "Trash volumes have declined 20 percent to 25 percent across the country during the past 20 months and some industry analysts attribute that to the economy." The Providence Journal article goes on to say "Rhode Islanders are tossing out more than 20 percent less trash than they did two years ago, before the onset of the local recession ... 'It's true that recycling is on the rise increasing 6 percent during the second half of last year and the first half of this year ... and would help diminish overall trash volumes. But ... the lower output in recent years, especially last year, is a reflection of the local economy. People are buying less, so they're throwing out less.' Said Michael O'Connell, Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp's executive director." Isn't that incredible?! To me, it is incredible in a good way. Now, I know this is a touchy subject. As someone whose family is in the manufacturing business (handbags) if people buy less stuff ... or a lot less stuff, companies will have to produce less and perhaps go out of business, and then we will have large losses of jobs, etc., etc. However, as I've pointed out before when posting The Story of Stuff video link, our world's and particularly our nation's level of consumption is unsustainable. The Story of Stuff does editorialize a little bit (if you are offended by that) but it's filled with a lot of great information. The bottom line is we can't keep making stuff, buying stuff and throwing it out. It's unsustainable. What's the answer? For decades now the success of our Nation's economy has been based on consumption. Ugh. How embarrassing. Maybe it is leading the world in sustainable energy. Maybe it's recommitting ourselves to servicing and repairing things again? (I actually drove by a t.v. repair shop recently and nearly drove off the road with my mouth agape. T.V. repair? This poor person can actually stay in business?) I don't know what the answer is. What to do with all of the jobs that we need? Maybe we downsize our economy, people commit to having one family member stay home to raise their children, be content with buying less stuff, and recommit ourselves to conserving, repairing, recycling and reusing things. That would certainly reduce the demand for more jobs. Hmmmm. What do you think?
Speaking of trash ... I just read a blurb from No Impact Man regarding how things are made to throw out and how the world of manufacturing is more or less currently based on getting rid of the old and buying a new. No Impact Man has a vision for the future. All I can say in response to him is "Amen". Link his story here.


a. borealis said...

What a bummer about getting sick! I missed the speeches last night -- what a bummer, but I fell asleep putting my boys to bed. I was hoping to find them posted on YouTube this morning, but alas.

As far as trash goes, I do think it is/will/would take a major overhaul of our general cultural lifestyle to sustain our economy if everyone were to simplify. We've really gone off the deep-end and everything from the chain coffee shops and the cheapy toss-it-out EVERYTHING to the way we buy our food is structured around it.

Basically, I think we are in a world of hurt generationally-speaking. I think it is going to take a long-term earth-rattling event to make any kind of wide-spread change. We are in this way of life up to our necks; and while many choose not to live like that, we are by no means even close to the majority.

Wow, that was so dismal. But...I truly believe it. I think slowing down, staying home, and buying ONLY high-quality items would be a good start. Ones that are built to last, or, as it were, that you would actually take to a repair shop to have it fixed. Our old VCR broke down this past summer and the repair guy told me numerous times that it would be better to "just buy a new one" before I even got it into the shop! As it was, he couldn't end up fixing it because the part is no longer manufactured...but at least I tried.

Wow - I responded to your post with a post of my own! =)

Sandy said...

I feel the same way. As much as the economic downturn is devestating for so many (particularly those in the lower income bracket already), part of me feels that a big economic hit would shake some sense into us. I also wonder how the "green", "simplifying" and "creation care" movements (small that they are, but increasing?) will eventually influence our economy. The thing that Serve God Save the Planet taught me and my SIL is that you can make a difference ... your impact is significant ... and collectively, even more so. Thanks for the post! -Sandy