Monday, October 13, 2008

Boy, are we stupid!

The other day as I was commuting to work, following a ribbon of highway with hundreds of other cars, I thought to myself, 'boy, are we stupid.' Here I was, with people all around me driving. How much of their day was spent commuting to and from work? How much was the cost in fuel and wear and tear?

Our parents and grandparents weren't this stupid. Years ago if you worked in Fall River you lived in Fall River, or maybe in a nearby town. You didn't waste time and money commuting. You probably walked, or took a bus or a trolley. Obviously they could do this because there were jobs in Fall River, something that isn't true today, but why haven't we made more efforts to bring in new economic engines to our region?

Today we have this huge issue with trash and recycling. Years ago milk, juice, and soda all came in glass bottles that were used again and again. Our ancestors were recycling before we knew what recycling was! Things like peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, bones and skin were usually kept separate from the 'regular' trash. In some areas this might have been used as a compost, in others there were heavy lidded outdoor containers were this would be dumped into and collected. That meant there was a lot less 'regular' trash and it was a lot less likely to attract mice, skunks, or rats!

Today we're worried about the cost of heating fuel. Years ago houses were designed so unused rooms could be closed off and not heated. Houses were built to take advantage of the natural landscape, positioned so certain rooms would get the morning sun and others the afternoon light. Windows were large to let in not just the sunlight but the heat that came with it. Shutters and heavy drapes were used to keep the heat in and the cold winds out.

It seems like our older generation had an answer and use for anything! Newspapers were reused to wash windows. A single left over chicken leg would become the base of a soup to feed the whole family. Slow baking in the winter not only fed the family but helped warm the house! From our miles of highways, our houses with open floor plans and built with no thought to their environment, our 'obsession' with convenience items with disposable packaging, we seem to have moved away from such common-sense approaches. Boy, we really are stupid.


Dr. Momentum said...

Convenience, consumerism, comfort, credit, consumption: these are our patriotic duties.

Faye Musselman said...

Progress, Lefty, Progress. Progress in packaging for one thing. Food additives that made prepared foods last longer and packaged for merchandising and promotion. All that packaging ends up in the trash. Our lives became more rushed and complex so convenience was a key to marketing success. We are a disposal society. From cell phones to diapers to containers to spouses - all disposable.

And our planet is paying the price.

As to commuting, if you think it's bad in your area, how about the "Inland Empire" daily commutes into L.A.? Those are 3 hour rides each way. Insane.

I live in a small town, Payson, AZ, and its 1.4 miles from my front door to the front door of where I work. The entire town is only 4 miles long and has one main intersection. Life is simplier in many respects.

In the late 90's and early 2000's some people were into "minimalizing" their lives. We may see more of that in the near future - due to necessity rather than choice.