Thursday, May 13, 2010
Revisiting old goals
"It's never too late to be the person you wish you were."
I watched two documentaries last night, I.O.U.S.A. and No Impact Man. I.O.U.S.A. is about the serious financial situation our country is in with the national debt, trade deficit, deflating currency, etc. I knew the situation was bad, but this movie seeks to quantify exactly how bad it is. If you can wade through the sea of numbers, the take away message is quite clear: our country faces a financial crisis if nothing is done about the way our national government spends money. Today, we live on money "borrowed" from future generations, only the future generations have had no say!
Seems like a pretty huge issue. So what can we do? Well, first of all, vote to elect people who are fiscally minded, who understand the importance of the problems we face and will attempt to remedy them. (I think some of this happened with the health bill that passed. Medicare and medicaid together account for a whopping 20% of the US budget! See here for more information.)
What else can we do? Save more, spend less. When Americans have money in savings, they become debt holders for the country. When they don't, the Chinese and Japanese become debt holders, which is what has happened. Besides, it's just good practice to have some money saved in case of emergency.
This is something that I really struggle with. I would love to have more savings built up. My current job is the first time I've had a 401K and I put 8% of my pay into that. But I make such a little amount of money, that I'm not able to save much. Todd and I have so much we want to do - trips, changes to the house - but when I see a movie like this, I just want to hunker down and live more frugally. Which kind of brings me to the next movie.
No Impact Man is about the journey of a guy, his wife and young daughter in NYC who try to live for a year with having as little impact on the earth as possible. They start out by not taking elevators, riding their bikes or walking everywhere, buying their food at the local farmer's market (they eat only food that comes from a 250 mile radius). They vow to buy nothing new, only used things. Coffee, spices, and olive oil are all out. About six months in, they decide to turn off their power.
Despite its flaws, the movie was a good reminder to something that is easy for even me to lose sight of: our actions DO matter. It's so easy to get swept up in the stream of consumerism. Each take-out container, to-go cup, bottle of water(!!), soda can, toilet paper roll, individually wrapped whatever - not to mention all of the plastic stuff that looks all shiny when you buy it but then breaks six months later - everything has to end up someplace. Some of it we can recycle, or compost, or give away - but much of it ends up in landfills.
So I am back on track to live a good environmental life. I want to try to go to the Farmer's Market once a week, reduce my to-go cups (iced coffee!!), continue to bike instead of drive if I can, and start composting!
On another subject, I also wanted to say that Todd and I went to a wedding at the beach this weekend with his family. We had a great time although the weather was a little chilly. :) I was feeling run-down when we left but started feeling better soon after. I think I just needed a little R&R.