It feels worth noticing the parts of our lives that are set up to make some regular use of disposable items. Whether it's plastic bottles of water, plastic bags at the grocery or styrofoam coffee cups, there are a lot of things we use once or only a few times and then throw away when we don't necessarily need to.
Recently I went looking for a more sustainable way to shave, so that I didn't have to throw away as many of those ridiculously expensive blade cartridges.
At some points in life I've used an electric razor, which had fewer parts that needed regular replacing. I suppose you could try to make the case that a really well-engineered electric razor with a long-lasting battery could end up being lower resource usage than the manual razor with cartridges, but as electric razors got more crazy in their design ("buy this special gel-pack that only fits this one model of razor so it can automatically douse your face with soothing chemicals at just the right time!") it felt simpler - and, okay, a little more manly - to just drag a blade across my face by hand.
Continue reading In search of a sustainable shave
Politicians in Washington D.C. sometimes make the issue of whether or not we raise the U.S. debt ceiling sound like an essential and complex challenge, one that only their particular brand of political maneuvering, posturing and compromise can rise to meet. But from what I can tell, there's actually some fairly simple financial math involved, and the implications for the state of our nation are fairly straightforward.
But more importantly, the conversation about raising the debt ceiling is the wrong conversation to be having.
I'd like to present those observations, but instead of referring to "the U.S. Government" every time, I'll just refer to this guy "Sam."
Please tell me if I'm wrong or over-simplifying:
I recently met with a local organization involved in environmental education efforts to talk about the status of sustainability education in Richmond and Wayne County. In preparing for that conversation, I put together a list of what I see as some of the challenges our community faces when it comes to becoming more sustainable and self-reliant: Continue reading Sustainability challenges in Richmond
Is working hard to make personal changes in our lives, especially when it comes to living sustainably, a futile effort in the face of all the other kinds of unsustainable things going on in the world? Is personal lifestyle change effective?
I've asked a version of this question before: Must we become the change we wish to see in the world? You can maybe tell that there's a theme here - impactful personal lifestyle change is not often convenient, and sometimes it is downright scary. But that's not a reason not to spend as much energy and time as it takes to try to live more sustainably, right? Change has to happen with each person individually before we can expect the system to change, right?
Or does it?
Continue reading Is personal lifestyle change effective?
I attended a nice talk this morning that tried to answer the question "what is a sustainable community?" It and some other recent exchanges I've had reminded me that there are a lot of fears we have wrapped up in exploring that question. Sometimes those fears prevent us from exploring these ideas fully, or from considering new possibilities for our own lives.
So I thought I would start an inventory of some of those fears, and see what else you might have to add. By exploring our fears and understanding what they are, maybe we can find ways to help each other address them.
When we have conversations about living more sustainably, what are we afraid of? What makes us a little anxious, a little hesitant?
Continue reading Our fears around sustainable living
These "links for the week" posts are a lame substitute for real blog posts, but I hope you enjoy them anyway. I'm working on some other entries about my experience with "power off day," my preferred task list organization system (it's NOT GTD), the difficulties of personal change in a vacuum, and more on media coverage of energy prices - so stay tuned. But for now:
As I mentioned when I came back from the energy conference in October, I was going to give a talk in November called "Going Local: Building a Self-Reliant Richmond, Indiana". I had agreed to speak earlier in the year and didn't really know what I was going to talk about beyond the expectation that it would fit into the "sustainability" theme of the series of talks in which I was participating and have some focus on peak oil and related topics.
It turned into one of my most intense speaking experiences to date.
Continue reading Going Local: Building a Self-Reliant Richmond, Indiana