I’ve posted here before about No Impact Man, so let me give him some more air space. He posted recently about the balance between happiness and consumption. He drew a crude graph basically making the point that having to completely restrict his life and the life of his family to not consume, did not make them happy. At the same time, though, over-consuming and taking advantage of all that being an American citizen offers us was also not rewarding at all. So, he was talking about the point where we can be a part of this disposable American world while also trying to live a somewhat sustainable lifestyle without feeling like not doing everything just right makes you a bad person.
Finally, there is the point on the graph which I have marked as”the goal.” This point, to me, is the Holy Grail of balance between quality of life and resource conservation. This is the place where you get to go out to a restaurant with friends once or twice a week, but you don’t waste resources in a way that doesn’t even improve your lifestyle by, say, eating out every night because you’ve fallen out of the habit of grocery shopping.
This point, “the goal,” is really just the place where you are really conscious of what you use. You don’t take things for granted. You understand that your actions have consequences for other people and the planet. It is the point between asceticism and waste, between self-denial and self-indulgence. It is the place of balance.
I think this point is well made and I think should be a goal for many of us. I’ve started to bring a reusable coffee mug with me to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts so I don’t feel like a heel every time I throw out a coffee cup, so I can enjoy the coffee AND not waste resources. Small? Yes, but I think that is the goal.