I went to the Living Green Expo held here over the weekend, and as you can probably tell by the title, was amazed at the amount of financial resources necessary to use fewer natural resources.
I’m all the way on board environmentally – let me get that out of the way first. I am glad that in the last few years I’ve attended this event I’ve seen it grow, but only somewhat. A lot of the folks who were there a few years ago don’t seem to be around anymore.
And I think I know why. In a lot of ways, we just aren’t there yet with the technology, or making environmentally-sound changes without a “rollback” of our habits. Take CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), for example. For those who aren’t familiar with this, you basically buy a “share” of a local organic farmer’s output, and get a load of farm fresh veggies and fruits delivered. I was tempted to try this a few years ago.
But when I put a pencil to it, for the amount of produce I can reasonably consume in a short Minnesota summer, I could buy it at local farmer’s markets, or even buy organic elsewhere for about 60% of what a “share” would cost me. And I’d have my choice of what I wanted, not just what my farmer grew.
The other thing that works against ideas like this is that we are spoiled by the bounty of things available to us. We want our watermelon in December. And all that summer produce doesn’t do me any good in the winter unless I can and freeze it. That was a chore for even my grandma, who knew what she was doing!
There were neat electric bikes there, and I don’t know how much they cost. But when they had a sign that said “Ask Us About Financing” I figured it wasn’t cheap. Never heard of a bike you had to finance before!
The solar and wind installers were there as well, most of them with a picture of some 6,000 square foot “cabin” with one of their products powering it. Wouldn’t it make more sense from an environmental standpoint to build something smaller than the Taj Mahal in your quest to get off the grid?
It’s almost as if we had turned a movement to use less resources and consume less into a status symbol of who can spend more. Until various alternatives are able to compete with our current choices economically, there will never be a critical mass. It needs to make sense to the hoi polloi, not just the retired professors and hipsters.
Unfortunately, that is why your organic grocer will go out of business in 2 years while McDonald’s will open 5 new stores in the same time frame.