Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One for the road

Another speedbump in the road to economic independence: transportation. Specifically, gas.

Obviously I couldn't consider myself independent of the global economy while continuing to partake of its most addicting and destructive by-product. I read somewhere that every national conflict in the past thirty years has had something to do with oil. I'm not sure about the specifics (or the validity) but it has the ring of at least partial truth. Oil=problems.

On the other hand, having no transportation would derail my other plans completely. Our farmer's market only gathers on Sundays, when my town has no public transportation. Freecycling, garage sale-ing, bartering... all require a working vehicle to some extent. I won't even go into the joys of taking the bus with four or more children in tow because it actually presents the least of the issues, although I am mildly amused by the mental image of my husband and I taking the bus to the hospital while timing contractions. Sounds like good times. I bet someone might even give me their seat.

No, retiring the minivan is not an option. Here are a few viable solutions:

1. Restrict driving to one or two set days a week.
2. Set a cap on gas expenditures or usage.
3. Refuse to drive unless at least x amount of errands can be accomplished in one trip.
4. Find a like-minded family and carpool.
5. Find someone who wants to loan or donate a hybrid car to my worthy cause. Hello Toyota?
6. Take the bus whenever viable.
7. Some combination of the above.

See how pathetically dependent we are on this monster we call global trade? It's worse than crack. Our country was settled by people who didn't think to hold out for convenient transportation. They just plowed ahead and took care of business. Why can't we have that kind of backbone?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Diapers, deodorant, and other trivia

So. I will buy nothing, living solely off the bounty of the earth. It's easy to make statements like this, at least for those of us who grew up in Humboldt County. Logistics are another story.

How am I going to do this?

Food will be easy. A wide variety of healthy and even affordable food grows in my immediate area, as in much of the US. What I can't conjure out of my backyard can be bought at the local farmer's market or from 4-H students. I'll miss the convenience of popping in to Safeway at any hour, but not the preservatives and insanely abundant packaging.

Clothing is only a little more difficult. No one in my house has less than a six-month supply of socks and underwear. Anything else I can find at a local thrift store or garage sale. Lack of selection will force me to think ahead and anticipate our needs well in advance... not exactly a bad habit in itself.

Many toiletries, cleaners, and cart-filling-crap can be made easily and safely from basic ingredients like oatmeal and vinegar. Most can even be completely done without. But what about deodorant? Lip gloss? Diapers?

The diaper question will be the topic du jour as I have a baby due at the end of May. I suppose cloth is the answer, but I'm not that green. No, I love my sanitary, convenient, landfill-clogging disposables. Do I love them enough to maintain a lifeline, however diminished, to the global economic mess?

Probably not.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Tired of whining about the economy? Just quit.

Starting April 2007, I am embarking on a six-month experiment. I will no longer buy anything that is not necessary for the continuance of life. The things I must have--like food--will be bought directly from local producers. As the primary shopper for our household, I will be dragging seven other people with me on this adventure in ecology. It is a drastic decision, and I am not by nature a drastic person.

I'm sick of financing CrapMart in beating down the little guy. It's hard to eat while wondering who was oppressed in the production of my food. I don't want a pair of Italian stilettos made by a starving six-year-old in Singapore, and I don't accept John Q. Enron's word that he is fair to his producers. Administrations come and go, liberal and conservative; nothing ever changes. WE lead our country regardless of who has the reins on paper. And WE want the goods, as cheap and as plentiful as possible. Those of us who came of age in the eighties and nineties grew up with consumerism taking up a massive amount of space in our homes and in our minds. We can't imagine a life without the constant acquisition of stuff. I think most Americans are willing to make economically responsible choices; they just don't realize that it is possible.

It is possible. Let's vote for change with the most convincing, most loudly heard ballot available: money.