Archive for April 1st, 2008

52 Weeks Down – Week 38 – Buy Green

Sharon April 1st, 2008

Sorry for the pause in this series – but it is back, although it will probably take me longer than a year to get through!   In the meantime, I’m re-orienting my focus.  All the bad news, gloom and doom are getting too depressing for me, while readers clamor for good, solid information about what products to spend their hard borrowed cash on.  Not to mention that this blog was starting to attract the attention of the wrong kind of people, KWIM?  I mean a bunch of eco wackoids and peakies and climate change freaks and some people who aren’t even from America!  I’ve decided that instead of writing about peak oil and climate change, I’ll be advising you on how to save the world by buying products that use marginally less energy, or give a tiny percentage of the profits to some poor person.  Make sure you buy a lot! 

Today, we’re going to talk about how to deal with finding environmentally friendly products to substitute for those unfriendly things you want and desperately need shortly after you read the catalog.  It is important to remember that these things will most likely cost more – but you can compensate for that by working more hours, borrowing more on your credit card or taking out a home equity loan (better hurry!).   As things get tighter, consider laying people off at your company, or skimping on private jets and flying first class to keep the green products coming in.

Let’s start by thinking about your dryer.  It is an essential replacement for the lint brush and the archaic clothesline.  No sacrifice is too much to prevent global warming, of course, but fluffy towels are an essential, not a luxury.  Shockingly, energy star doesn’t even label clothes dryers, because they are seen as non-essential.  But do not give up hope – a generation of fancy new European models, is, I’m told, just around the corner.  Look for daily updates on this essential issue on this site!  In the meantime, it will cost only a paltry 10K to buy a solar system that can run your dryer – heck, buy two and run a fridge, freezer and some power tools too!

Ok, I know you are desperate to warm up your credit cards, so let’s move on to the next essential – baby clothes!  Babies are so cute and just the best accessory, as long as they are properly contained, deoderized and nannied.  What better product than a $24 onesie that starts a kid off being properly proud of his ride?  Let’s see – your kid will go through approximately 3 onesies a day, so it will only cost you just over $500 to have enough to keep the kid well dressed.  And organic!  Oh, don’t forget the 20,000 dollar hybrid to go with it!

Not having a baby?  You want something for you?  Well, remember, when things get tough, when the news is full of ugly stuff about billions starving because of biofuels and climate change, it is time for some pampering.  You know, that thing where you make yourself feel really good by focusing on the most important thing…yourself!  Now here’s a product I bet you thought you’d never fine – eco-mascara!  Only $15 for a few ounces, now you can truly have those thick, lush lashes so essential to feeling good about yourself.  And why shouldn’t you feel good?  After all, you care!  You care enough to buy non-toxic mascara to protect yourself from toxic chemicals.

What about for him?  Well, he can’t wear it himself, but he’ll think himself fortunate that the world has not yet neglected the urgent category of “eco-lingerie.”  Sexy eco-knickers will liven up the lowest-energy evening.  Remember to find some equally environmentally friendly sunglasses, and greet him at the door in your new outfit!  “Woah, you look so…green…honey!”

What about something for the man to use himself?  Well, every guy needs a stylish way to tote his stuff to the office to process foreclosures.  Instead of going to goodwill and picking up one of the zillions of bags, briefcases and backpacks that are dumped every year, how about something that will truly express his individuality, when his friends say “hot bag, man.”  “Yes,” he’ll answer proudly, “Honeycakes gave it to me – it is made of pure hemp, and the edible underwear she wore to dinner the day she gave it to me were made of sustainably harvested sugarcane and corn fibers, hand appliqued by a bunch of weird non-white people with no money to buy food.”

Finally, what if you need to redecorate?  My recommendation is a subscription to Natural Home Magazine, where health and eco-conscious consumers (not readers or citizens or people - it is good to know who your audience is) are helped to decide how to spend their half million dollars to re-green their homes, or better yet, to build a 6000 square foot dream home.  Sometimes celebrities even show off their 100,000 dollar grey water reclalmation system.  You’ll be able to pick out the right couch at the right 10K price.  And who doesn’t need that.

Ok, I hope that’s gotten rid of the undesirables.  Coming up next week – Take a Green Spa Vacation and save the planet!


The Food Crisis Getting Worse – Fast!

Sharon April 1st, 2008

Well, the last week has had some disturbing news about food supplies.  First, rice prices jumped by 30% in a single day, putting many of the 3 billion people who depend on rice as their food staple at risk of hunger.  The Guardian tells that people are stripping rice fields before the farmers can harvest them.  Most rice eating nations are self-sufficient in rice, but there some disturbing exceptions, including the Philippines. 

The next news to arrive was the projected US corn production, which was released yesterday, and now some analysts are warning us to expect corn rationing this year! Mexicans are already struggling with high corn prices, and much of Africa which relies on maize is endangered by rising corn prices.  Understandably, tensions are rising with hunger. (Note that the article calls the decision, say, to reserve rice supplies for one’s own hungry people rather than sell them on open markets “counterproductive.”  As usual, growth capitalism revels in the “creative destruction” of anyone but large corporations    ;-P.  Also note the charming shift of the problem onto the developing world’s large population and desire to eat meat occasionally, rather on to the rich world where every person consumes 15 times the resources.)

Add in wheat and soybeans, both at record highs for a host of reasons, and virtually all of the basic staple foods of most of the world’s population are skyrocketing in price – and increasingly out of reach not just of the world’s poor (already starving)  but of ordinary Americans.  News that more Americans than ever will need food stamps next year is hardly surprising, as are accounts that food pantries are really struggling to meet demand.  I think it will surprise many analysts exactly how big and deep the hunger problem gets in the US, as we are squeezed between rocks and hard places in a host of ways.

What should we do about this?  Well, rationing isn’t a bad thought.  I know a lot of people instinctively react badly to the idea of rationing, but the truth is that we ration food today – we simply ration by price.  Too poor to buy rice?  Ok, you go hungry, so that the richer folks can have it.  We *ARE* rationing.  What formal rationing systems do is give even poor people a right to eat.  I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating – people *LIKE* rationing in times of scarcity, because it ensures they get a fair share.

Now the logical place to start the rationing would be at the biodiesel and ethanol plants – rationing them out of existence in many cases would be an excellent choice.  Certainly, limiting access to feedlot meat producers wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  But given the fact that we are probably stuck, we should all dig in and prepare for a long, terrible, hungry year – and probably more. 

Meanwhile, those gardens matter.  Grow an extra row for the food pantry.  Eat a little more of your own homegrown, and donate what you save to world relief agencies. If you eat grains, grow some – Gene Logsdon just announced that he’s re-releasing his wonderful book _Small Scale Grain Raising_.  Write your congressperson.  Get involved with those who are fighting hunger and biofuel production.  And grow.  And grow.