Shopping Your Way Out Of Peak Oil
This is a little story about shopping behavior in the age of peak oil.
The other day, my wife decided she wanted to go buy some stuff and I was dragged along kicking and screaming. We bickered about the usual things when it comes to buying “new” stuff – I brought up how we shouldn’t contribute to consumerism, and she countered with the fact that I can’t make the furniture she wants for our raging deck parties this summer. In other words – I lost.
Damn my inability to sustainably self-forge fixtures and furniture from the earth!
So we headed out in a rented FlexFuel truck (saving money at the pump by fueling up with E-85). Our trip started out by heading to the Rebuilding Center, a place in Portland where you can go shopping for all sorts of home goodies that have been reclaimed. This means you can buy pre-owned sinks, windows, doors – you name it.
The unfortunate part about shopping at second-hand stores is that you get whatever is there, in whatever condition it is in, and there is no guarantee of inventory in stock. It’s a mish-mash of potentially useful items, and while you can get lucky and find some gems, some of it looks like it is one-step ahead of a trip to the dump.
So then we went to the store she wanted to visit. It’s this little store you might have heard of called IKEA.
I had never been to an IKEA, and I was amazed at the energy in the orgy of consumerism and Disneyland-like glee from shoppers of every ethnicity. At this store, home ideas are presented to you – not much thinking required!
I imagine whoever steals the IKEA layout and combines it with the Rebuilding Center to showcase reclaimed furniture will have a hit on their hands in the future as the economy continues to tank.
So after I put up a tantrum because I refused to participate in buying new fixtures from IKEA (even though they claim to use sustainable materials for some wood products), we left and headed home after grabbing some mulch from a local provider.
Then we decided to take a little field trip to Portland’s dumping station to get rid of things we couldn’t recycle, but that the city claims to recycle. Excellent, I thought. This could be a win-win.
Ugh. Have you been to your city dump lately? If I were mayor, I would suggest to each person living in the city to take a field trip to the dump, just to witness the ghastly amounts of waste that we generate. When you actually put yourself into the trash, you can feel your stomach turn at the notion of human stupidity.
How wasteful we are – shame on us all. But even if trash magically “goes away” to be placed in a landfill or even recycled, do we really need so much stuff? I am guilty as charged when it comes to materialism, but trying to find ways to change.
My question is – are enough humans willingly asking ourselves these questions, and do we have systems in place to radically alter our behavior before we completely decimate our planet? Will we be able to shop our way out of Peak Oil, even if we don’t buy anything new?
I would love to see the military retrofit our equipment be used for farming rather than securing oil to continue our wasteful lifestyles.