Consumption at the Macro Level


I started to right a great post on why Christmas time is not so good for my affluenza recovery, but it got kind of depressing, so I never got around to finishing it. I am not far enough along in my recovery to delve that deeply yet, I think.

But I did read a great article in the Times today that I wanted to post here on global consumption. It is very encouraging to see that people are taking the problems of consumption and sustainability seriously on a global level. Also, that it is not realistic to complain about consumption in the rest of the world when we (Americans) are the largest contributors to the problem. That is why I am working on an individual basis to figure out how much I can cut back without lowering my standard of living in any way that matters to me. There are ways to cut that consumption and actually raise my satisfaction with my life, but there are lines I don’t want to cross. I figure that if I gradually push those edges, I will lower my consumption more and more.

One thing I have been looking at lately is electricity. My electric company has a new program where you can pay an extra cent and a half per kilowatt hour to support sustainable energy programs. I went out to look at my account online to see how much this would impact me, and I realized we are using a lot more electricity in this apartment than we were in the old one. Part of that is the extra bedroom. Both kids spend more time in their rooms now that they have their own spaces. They leave the light on all the time, too. So, now I am reminding them to turn the light off when they are not in there. It’s not like it is difficult to turn the light back on when they go into the rooms. Another issue is the computers. We have two now, and I have gotten into the habit of leaving them on all the time. No more. When we are done, we shut them all the way off.

Those are the wasteful things I noticed when I went sleuthing, but there are other things affecting this as well. I found my alarm clock radio and plugged it in. So now I listen to NPR to gradually wake me up in the mornings, and keep me going as I get ready for the day. The dishwasher uses electricity. It is a fairly new dishwasher, so I think it is pretty effiecient with the water, plus I LOVE IT, so I am not giving that up. And, as we have been de-cluttering, our home has become a more pleasant place, and we are just plain here more often. Overall, I think the slight raise in electricity use is offset by the increased contentment with our home, and decreased driving time to go out and do other things. We are also getting more use out of things that we have here at home, since we are here to use them. I think the net effect of our increased time at home is probably actually a decrease in consumption, although I don’t have any numbers to back that up.

After a month of cutting our electricity use where we can, I am going to go out and see what kind of affect this has on our total usage. Then I am going to join the Pure Power program, although the thought of what it will do to my electricity bill in the summer is scary. Still, if I can support a program that is working to reduce our consumption effects so that I never have to give up my air-conditioning and dishwasher, it is worth a little extra money–or even a not-so-little extra money.

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