The Backyard

The Backyard

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Having (Or not) Affluenza

Depletion and Abundance is one of those books you pick up and at first think the author is a crackpot, but you find yourself going back to the ideas and suggestions and actually practicing them time after time. The book is about peak oil, but Sharon Astyk shares SO much more about many things in life, with the chapter on American affluence hitting home for me. Her book has me tempted to get this one too - Affluenza -- although I think I've already passed the test and don't have it any longer. My dear hubby inherited his mother's frugality and will wear a pair of shoes until the holes in the bottoms start leaking and his feet get wet. So we shopped for new shoes for Ricky yesterday. while in the shoe store, I could feel my affluenza coming back. "Oh, look Rick, aren't these the cutest garden shoes you ever saw? And look at these cool slippers -- they would be mega warm. Ahhh... sneakers - can one ever have too many pairs of sneakers. You know you are supposed to get new ones every 300 miles." Truth be told, my garden shoes are my old sneakers and I have at least 20 pairs of them lying around - not to mention I purchased a pair of waterproof workshoes 20 years ago specifically for the garden that I hardly wear. And my three pairs of slippers and dozen or so fleece socks keep my feet plenty warm. All said and done? I didn't buy anything. I kept going back to the thought of, DO I NEED IT and the answer was a resounding NO? I hear folks today say they are hurting -- they don't know where their money goes. It's hard, but you CAN break the frivolous buying habit -- at least on things you don't need to sustain life. Here's an interesting challenge to give you ideas, - The Buy Nothing Challenge. For three months, you limit your purchases to things needed to sustain life -- you know - food, gas to get to work, shelter (warmth!). The basic rules are below on what NOT to buy. The interesting part is it takes 20 days to break a habit, so if you do this challenge, you are in essence curing yourself of Affluenza and will have more money in your pockets!

No new clothes
No new gadgets
No new furniture or housewares
No salon services (except haircuts)
No new makeup
No new tools
No whatever the hell else people buy
No eating out (yes, this one is new!)

Some of these you will think you can't live without. But guess what - you can! The one that bothered me most was no new makeup. I'm not sure whether folks noticed (they are polite and probably wouldn't say anything!), but I've now gone to work quite a few times without a stitch of makeup on. Not even my can't-live-without mascara. It was awkward at first, but like every habit that can be broken, I got used to it and the feeling of what will people think. I really don't care what people think... I'm doing my tiny part to save the earth! YOU can do the same.

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