Archive for the ‘progress’ Category

I can’t help but smile knowingly when in this day in age where we find ourselves in not only economic but also environmental dismay that we are reverting to the ways of old. We’ve progressed so rapidly over the past several decades, and yet now in a time economic and environmental crisis’s, we must stop to reflect and wonder how all that progress affected some of today’s troubles. Even as I listen to our new president discuss the multitude of economic challenges and all that needs to be done to reverse trends, I find myself relishing the fact that the American people are seemingly starting to act more cautiously, by starting to save once again, instead of spending on everything and anything that looks desirable in the instant. It’s unfathomable to me that for many years leading up to the current crisis, we were either close to or actually had a negative savings rate as a nation.  Maybe that’s because from an early age, the notion of saving was instilled in me. It was on my young 11th birthday that I started my first job, delivering the daily morning paper. Every Saturday dad would drive me to pick up my paycheck and then we’d head straight to the bank to deposit most or all of it – I remember the thrill of watching as the numbers increased in my little blue passport savings book. I can only conclude that we do not value saving in this American culture. That is, maybe not until now. The way we treat our environment is not all that different. Only recently has the environmental movement taken firmer hold and gone mainstream. In such, I have to wonder how can anyone with any knowledge of the waste we produce throw away another plastic bottle in their trash, when there is an opportunity to recycle it almost as easily. One small example: the average school child produces 67 pounds of waste from school lunches alone. A number of thoughtful steps can be taken to cut this waste down to at least half. Beyond this, there are a number of measures to be taken to promote environmental health which also promote individual health, such as choosing ‘clean’ non-chemical cleaning products for the home, eating less meat, and being more cognizant of our everyday household choices about using water, consolidating errand running, and using reusable canvas bags when we shop. 

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Michael Pollan speak at Tufts. One theme that emerged was how by eating real whole foods, the way nature intended, we can emerge healthier human beings. That equates to less processed food-like substances like those Go-Gurt squeezable yogurts, and more things grown in the ground and on trees. It parallels my message about the environment and our economy. It’s quite simple, actually. Let’s go back to basics. Back to learning to save for when more challenging economic times emerge. Let’s go easier on our environment, so our earth is here for us for generations to come. Instead of relying so much on plastics and gas guzzlers, how about more goods made from natural organic materials such as wood and taking out our bicycles when we’re just running out to the corner for a gallon of milk.  Let’s learn to live simply and conserve as many of our ancestors did, and appreciate that which we have instead of longing for that which has yet to be realized. Progress has brought us so far, so fast, but not without consequence. Perhaps in this time of despair we can take some time to reflect on how we got here and all make small changes, either because we are forced or are just more thoughtful, and make this a better world to live in.

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