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I just want to make sure everyone got the memo
by Katy Purviance on 03/27/08 @ 03:35:55 pm
Categories: Observations, Products | 466 words | 1276 views

For better or for worse, green, greening, and greenification have become trendy.

This is good because it drives consumer demand, which drives the market (or is it the other way around?), which in turn drives innovative products and services, as well as driving down the price tag.

So that regular people can afford to be responsible too. (I’ll come back to this statement in just a moment.)

But this trendiness is also bad because some of my more cynical pals think that all this brouhaha about living in harmony with nature and treating the earth and all forms of life with dignity, respect, and honor…is a fad. They, how shall I put this delicately…they resist changing their life “style,” their behavior, and worst of all, they cling rigidly to their paradigms.

(These people also don’t “believe” in global warming.)

I’m coming back now to my statement earlier about “regular people” and “affording to be responsible.”

A common complaint I see in the Letters to the Editor sections of certain green design-friendly mags (Dwell comes to mind), is that “regular people” would love to emulate the life “styles” of those whose green living graces the glossy pages of these periodicals, but they…can’t…afford it.

To that I say, yes, you can afford it.

Let’s take a quick look back through time at other “regular people” who could afford to live in harmony with nature:

  • Cavemen
  • The Eskimos
  • The Aborigines
  • Amish, Quakers, and Shakers

What am I saying here? I’m saying that okay, maybe a geothermal heat pump is a little out of your price range at the moment, but you know what’re some pretty cheap – if not free – ways to be a trendy friendly Mr. or Ms. Greeny McGreenerson?

  • Recycling
  • Never using styrofoam
  • Not littering
  • Refuse to buy products that contain too much extra packaging
  • Walk more
  • Or ride a bike
  • Or take the bus
  • (I was going to say “hitchhiking, but then I changed my mind, unless you live in some place that’s a little more neighborly than LA.)
  • Until you can afford a totally electric car, keep your car well-maintained (yes, this means do your oil changes every 3,000 miles) so that you can get better fuel efficiency
  • Forgo the embodied energy in food that is transported hundreds or thousands of miles away by growing your own produce. Yes, even if you live in a little apartment.

You can think of a few more, I’m sure.

If you find yourself getting caught up in the I-can’t-afford-this and I’ll-never-get-to-have-that tantrums, take a moment. Set down the magazine. And think. There is plenty that you can do, right now, with what you have, with what you know, right where you are. No more complaining. No more excuses. You can live in harmony too.

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Previous post: The rebuilding of Ise Shrine
Next post: Step 1. Harmonize with the Site

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

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I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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