Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shopping...Our Eco Footprint

Perhaps it is because of my experiences or just being more aware, but I have noticed that the older I become, the less and less I am interested of acquiring "things."  The whole notion of going shopping for the fun of it or because of a great sale has long since passed. Perhaps it is because I am more aware of the whole global market industry. Perhaps it is because I want to purchase local items, even though the "Made in Canada" are hard to find. Perhaps with children, we want to make sure they are taken care of too. But I think one big reason is that I do not want to leave too much of an eco "footprint." The more you buy, the more chance it will end up as "garbage" one day.

I now only buy clothing if it is a classic piece that I hope to wear for a long time. Before I pick up a houseware item, I ask myself, do I really need that? I got along perfectly fine without it. The other limiting factor is that our home does not have much storage so we are forced to purge every six months. Kids outgrow many things so their items are donated to friends, Goodwill, or sold to "Once Upon a Child." Some of our furniture are second-hand. Our lovely Heintzmann piano was listed on Craigslist from a family that had used it for three generations. My husband has purchased used cars from ebay. Yes, ebay. We try to take the subway whenever we can.

Sometimes, I imagine I would love to live in a home with just a piano and minimal furniture. In the older Asian homes, people used to have one closet and one folding table that was low to the ground. In the evening, the folding futon mattress would come out on the floor for sleep. In the morning, it would be folded back in the closet. Breakfast would be served on the one table while family members would sit on the floor to eat. After meals, the table was folded back up and set aside. Studying was also done either on the same table or another similar one. People would sit on flat cushions on the floor. And that was it. No bed frames, no tables with chairs, no sofas, no loveseats, no cribs, no headboards, no night tables. Floors were heated in the winter. Although that would be a great ideal for me to live in, the houses here are not built for that lifestyle and people are not as comfortable sitting on the ground. It would have to remain as a thought for a rainy day...

Living in a home in North America with cars leaves a large eco footprint. I hope we can learn from other models in other countries like Brazil (thanks to their sugar cane) to improve North American fuel resources as well. I know a few young scientists interested in pursuing biofuel development. This is a topic that can be easily take several pages, but I will end it with...

Good luck and a big thank-you to our environmental scientists and policy makers! You have a hard job ahead.

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