Friday, May 28, 2010

Big Fat Liar

I was ghcatting with my good friend Brad the other day. Brad went to school in California, thus is very up to speed about doing things that are nice for Earth. I thought I would brag to him about all the nice things for Earth I've started doing over the past few months.

As I was rambling off a few ways I've changed my day-to-day life in the name of Earth, I realized how much of a big fat liar I was being. All I really care about is saving money. I guess Earth is happy about the changes I've made, but I really made them for entirely selfish reasons.

Like riding my bike. If I am really tired and groggy and don't feel like riding my bike to French class, do I say to myself "You know, Betsy, Earth would really like it if you rode your bike there"? No. I think, "Do you want to spend $4.50 to get there? Or do you want to spend $0?" Then I ride my bike.

My roommates and I also make our own cleaning supplies (which is really just dumping vinegar on anything that's dirty) and have reduced our paper towel consumption to one roll a month. I might have led people on to believe that I do these things for Earth. But I don't. A giant bottle of vinegar is $4, lasts forever, and can be used to clean anything. That's all I've spent on cleaning supplies since February, and there's still plenty of vinegar left for more months to come.

I guess it just sounds better to say I do this stuff for Earth. And I do like Earth, so it is a nice added advantage that the Earth might get something out of all this. It's embarrassing to admit that I'm really just cheap. But it's the truth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Want vs. Need

I was sitting in my giant new cubicle yesterday, wondering how I should personalize it and fill it up with tons of stuff. While pondering this very important issue, I noticed my entire cubicle was the size of my bedroom in Paris. The cubicle is probably bigger.

I don’t remember the measurements of the Paris room, but I am pretty sure it was illegal to live in a space that small. I didn’t really care though. I made sure my life fit inside that space, because that was all I had. I had a futon, a desk, and a closet. How much more does one person need?

Transitioning back to my American roots was much easier than I thought it would be. The hard part is resisting them. After surviving on very limited wardrobe for a year, I tried to remember that new clothes were not really necessary. But when I began working at threadless, where slightly damaged t-shirts were free, my American greed got the best of me. I took more than I needed. I probably have 50 threadless shirts now. I didn’t even need to take one.

Now that I have that out of my system, I think I need to try to find some sort of median between accumulation of useless crap and simplicity. Instead of grabbing as many tees as I can get my greedy little hands on, I am trying to focus on purchasing good quality, evergreen basics (ie black clothes). I will spend 40+ hours a week at this cubicle, and it would be silly to resist adding a little something something to spruce it up. Where is my French magnetic poetry?

Friday, May 07, 2010

I Am The 260,000,000th Richest Person in the World

GOOD Magazine sends some pretty good stuff through my Google Reader. Here's one. It shows how a "meager" US salary of $40,000 per year looks compared to the whole world:

I entered my salary and I learned that I am in the top 4.33 percent of richest people in the world. Then I learned this:

$8 could buy me 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.

$30 could buy me an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.

$73 could buy me a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

$2400 could buy me a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

It's an excellent campaign. I hope it moves people to take action.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Pointless Word of The Day

Every morning on my ride up to the 32nd floor, I get sucked into watching the elevator TV, which flashes weather, bits of news, stock prices, etc. Today, I learned a new word of the day. Bom·bi·nate. intransitive verb. to buzz or hum, as in the following sentence: "Every once in awhile, my computer bombinates loudly, as if in protest."

Why use a fancy pants big word when you could just use a simple word everyone will understand? I would never tell anyone my computer was bombinating. I would sound look like a moron. No one speaks like that. In non-pretentious conversation, computers buzz and hum. They don't bombinate.