Do your part to lower demand
By Joy Barry
July 09, 2008
About two months ago I was feeling pretty dismal about the rising
cost of oil. I lamented to my husband that soon he wouldn't be
able to go to work anymore because he wouldn't have the gas money
to get there! We would love to buy an all-electric car (a perfect
option for Ketchikan where we can't drive very far anyway), but
that is way out of our budget at the moment. We currently don't
even have the funds to get a more fuel-efficient gasoline car.
I was about to descend into despair when suddenly a bright light
bulb appeared over my head. I recalled the energy crisis in the
seventies when my dad traded in his motorcycle for a bicycle
and began pedaling to work. He continued to use his bicycle as
his main transportation for his entire career. I realized that
there are other ways of getting around besides driving! After
all, automobiles are a fairly recent invention when you consider
the entire history of the world.
So I decided to quit driving. Why should I cut back on essentials
like food and clothing so I can buy some non-essential oil? And
I'm not doing it just for our family's budget, I am doing it
for the greater good of the community. The cost of oil will never
go down if the demand stays high. To lower the cost, we must
lower the demand. I am doing my part to lower the demand.
I don't just stay in the house now, I still get around. Like
many people in our community, I live in town and within walking
distance of grocery shopping. When I go shopping, I put my baby
in her carrier, the toddler in the stroller, and grab some of
my canvas shopping bags as I head down to Safeway. I've started
walking to church on Sundays (nine blocks away and uphill, but
wow I am getting in shape). I also have a bike and a bike trailer
that can hold both my children, so I pulled those out of the
basement and started using them. I have also discovered the bus
system here and I am impressed. You can get anywhere between
Fawn Mountain Elementary (south of Rotary Beach) and Totem Bight
out north. And a monthly bus pass is only $25 (the same cost
as buying six gallons of gas). The new buses have wide aisles
and low entries that can easily accomomdate a wheelchair, stroller,
or the folding wheeled shopping basket I bought at Tongass (a
great help for bringing home more groceries). The bus is also
what we use for a daytime excursion to the beach.
Walking, biking, and busing take a little more time and planning
to get where you need to go when you need to go there. Our society
is accustomed to waiting until the last possible minute and zipping
around wherever we need to go. We could all benefit from slowing
down and taking a nice walk when we need to go somewhere, taking
time to pick a daisy and taste some salmonberries along the way.
So when you're out driving and you see me walking around hauling
two children & some groceries, don't stop and offer me a
ride (unless I am crying, maybe I'll need the help that day).
I do have a car, but I am not using it because I am trying to
change the world!
I know what you're thinking now, what about the rainy days? Well,
we have this new invention called "rain gear" and we
use it. You can get some really nice rain gear for the cost of
filling up your gas tank a couple times.
Another thing that uses oil are the many oil furnaces in town.
Our house has an old dinosaur of an oil furnace, but we have
already installed a wood stove and are collecting enough wood
to keep us warm this winter. Fuel for the wood stove grows everywhere
on this island, we can even get it for free!
And finally, I am not forgetting that every time I buy something
at the store, I am also paying for the oil used to ship it here.
To avoid too many new purchases, we try to live a simple, renewable
life and take advantage of the bounty of nature. We eat fish
and game from the waters & forests here. We gather berries
and fiddlehead ferns to eat when they are in season. I am growing
tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and herbs in planters on my front
porch (every little bit helps!). I also visit the Plaza on Market
Saturdays (first Saturday of the month) to buy locally-made crafts
(like soap & wine vinegar). I also love shopping at thrift
stores and garage sales (to buy stuff that is already on the
island anyway). And I avoid almost all single-use throw-away
disposable products like disposable diapers, paper towels, paper
napkins, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, paper plates,
etc. We have reusable alternatives that can be washed (water
for cleaning is abundant here!).
So what are YOU doing? I encourage you to take some action and
do what you can to reduce your demand for oil. Don't sit back
and wait for our nation's leaders to find a solution to the crisis.
Make a change for yourself and do it today!
About: "A Stay-at-home-mom
trying to live the simple life."
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