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Consume Less

Back in June (if not earlier) Sarah Palin wrote:

Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must! Or we will be even more beholden to, and controlled by, dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy.

Yet there is another alternative to rapacious consumption. There is an alternative even to “alternative” sources of energy.

I am talking about consuming less. Americans in particular consume a lot of resources, and that takes a lot of energy. It’s my understanding that transporting goods (and people) is the biggest energy hog. xAmericans also have a high rate of obesity. Translation: We eat too much and don’t get enough exercise.

So imagine, just for example, if we ate a little less. Imagine if more of the food we did buy was grown in the local area. Since local food doesn’t have to be transported as far, buying local is a form of consuming less. Imagine if we got around under our own power more often, riding bicycles or even (gasp) walking. We’d get a little more exercise and be healthier while consuming less fuel.

Consuming less saves you money. It has the added benefit of making us less “beholden” to “dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy.”

It annoys me when politicians (of any party) talk about energy and don’t emphasize the benefits of consuming less. It seems to me that, as a nation, we should be on a collective quest to figure out how to consume radically less energy. Imagine if we set a goal of reducing our national energy consumption by half in the next decade. I’m sure we could do it.

The pundits and politicians don’t talk about this. Instead they tell us what we want to hear, or what they think we want to hear. It’s a sad comment that in our current political climate, the message of consuming less seems almost subversive or un-American. That shouldn’t be the case.

This rant was inspired by a quote from Sarah Palin, but I want to make it clear that the failure of leadership is much broader than any single person. There is plenty of blame to go around. It would be nice to hear the “consume less” message coming from the White House, but I haven’t seen that from Brack Obama’s administration. Maybe I missed it.

But leadership can be exercised by anyone. Clearly a movement to consume less will have to come up from the grass roots.

Published inEcologyPolitix


  1. Garvey Garvey

    I agree with this whole piece, except for the hope that politicians would ever do anything resembling “leadership”. Carter tried this very thing, and look at what it got him. Politicians are interested in gaining and retaining power, and no one likes a scold. But as a grassroots approach, I like what you’re saying. I just watched a cool video this AM about the evils of bottled water. The message was the same as yours, essentially: consume less.

  2. Lee Lee

    I completely agree with ya b! I don’t see any politicians starting any movement of the sort though. I think our country has become over exposed and over marketed to a vast array of goods and services that cause this problem, and perhaps even make it worse. I’ve noticed more and more how the majority of society don’t think outside the box, and just herd like cattle. To the people of my generation, it’s always about the latest and greatest thing, never thinking of the total cost of that thing.

  3. Garvey Garvey

    “Never thinking of the total cost of that thing.” Reminds me of that (apocryphal?) story a while back about how a Hummer is supposedly “greener” than a Prius, considering the entire lifecycle of each. I’m too lazy to look up if that were true or not, but it was interesting to see people even consider the total cost in such a way, even if the moment were fleeting.

  4. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    The shoe about to drop is the cut-off of all the deliveries.
    They (they’re out there and up there) don’t need us masses anymore.
    It’s time for the underground-shelter elite to take their final stashes down,
    and hunker down for the great surface-cleansing war-and-asteroid party,
    with a side of solar-maximum coronal-mass-ejection flambe’ and super-
    Then, at that point, there will be a marked change in energy-consumption.

  5. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    But on a more positive note, with real agreement to the point,
    the Paloma tankless water heater, when I first saw it, was a big wow to me.
    We still today have not upgraded to a tankless heater.
    So therefore, all the time, the natch gas burns per thermostat command to
    keep the forty-gallon conventional hot-water tank hot. I’m sotch a total dweeb
    to not have gotten it together to get a Tankless heater.
    They say that these fuel-inefficiencies are intentionally designed for to benefit
    the CorporGov Lords of commerce. The Natch Gas industry, etc.
    Like for example building codes for houses allowing for thin insulation and a
    roaring furnace, by intentional wasteful design.
    And how about tons of good compost going into landfills every damn day?
    With empty “brownfield” lots lying there going to waste and weeds.
    Lots of unemployed who could be intercepting the truly Wasteful good stuff
    out of the waste-stream.
    You see, B.,
    The phenomenon of the Sealed-compactor grocery-store waste system,
    especially at big outfits like walmart, are in place because of scroungers
    and dumpster-divers like me. Why should I pay for stuff I can scrounge?
    Therefore, the sealed compactor, not the dive-able dumpster rules the day.
    I have watched as supervisors made sure that dated-expiration items went
    into the compactor, and not to the People.
    Yeah, Yeah, it’s all Economics….unfortunately what we have seen is the decline
    of Human-kind into another marketable commodity on the big trading board.

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