Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change: Life's little convenience charge

Back in the days BK (before kids, that is) the Mister and I rocked lots of concerts and shows. I used to call all of those service charges and taxes they added onto the price of tickets "inconvenience fees". For the ease of going online and buying tickets, rather than going to a ticket outlet, they charge you an exorbitant fee that they called "convenience charges". My wallet would probably beg to differ.

Now, 8 years and 3 kids later, we rarely go to concerts anymore (unless a singing Disney character is involved). We live a much different, simpler lifestyle, recognizing the enormous convenience fee called Climate Change that Mother Nature has put upon us for all of the things we think are supposed to make our lives easier. From bottled water to genetically engineered Roundup resistant crops, the things we've produced in the name of convenience come with much larger charges than concert tickets do.

Climate change is no inconsequential charge that we can shrug and accept, which is why we do what we do here at the Green Phone Booth. Sure, I may sew, craft and give handmade gifts because of the creative outlet and satisfaction it provides me. Green Bean may garden for the taste of fresh heirloom tomatoes and the feel of dirt under her nails. But at the root of almost everything we do is climate change.

When I sew a bag for a girlfriend for her birthday, I put my own creativity into finding the right fabric (thrifted or repurposed) and creating the perfect gift just for her. No pesticides are used to grow cotton to make new fabric. I relieve a young girl in China from having to make a bag for me for an unfair wage in a factory spilling pollution into the air and groundwater. A bag never has to be shipped from China to the US, then driven cross-country to get to me.

I started doing things like this in the name of climate change and reducing my carbon footprint, but I continue doing them because it's a simpler way of life that I enjoy immensely. Another bonus? I don't have to work as hard to be able to afford the things that are supposed to make my life easier. Novel idea.

I feel great about the lifestyle that my family is living these days. There's always room for improvement and we're so far from perfect that I couldn't even see perfect with the Hubble telescope, but I'm proud of the progress we've made in the last few years. Still, I keep hearing Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) in the back of my head saying that it's individual action like this PLUS collaborative action that is needed to truly affect climate change. Minimizing our individual impact is extremely important, but we need to couple that with activism and change on a larger scale as well. Here are some ideas for you...
  • Participate in events like today's Blog Action Day to show others how important climate change is to you.
  • Participate in the International Day of Action and help show our leaders just how many people are unified for this cause.
  • Call your representatives. This video from the World Wildlife Fund and its Act For Our Future campaign shows you just how painless it is to call your Senator and ask him/her to vote YES on climate legislation. Seriously, it takes less than one minute.

Finally, share your ideas. Leave us a comment. Let us know that you've called your Senator and what else you're doing (or plan to do) as a collaborative action against climate change.

Power to the people.


ruiaf said...

I agree with everything you say here except for:

"I relieve a young girl in China from having to make a bag for me for an unfair wage"

I don't even have words to describe this sentence. It's xenophobe.

You should read:

Do you see child labor mentioned there? Child labor is forbidden in China. There may be some illegal child work but not to a bigger extent than in other developing countries like Russia, Brazil, etc.

I totally support not buying things from the other side of the world, but this is not a justification at all.

Eco Yogini said...

fantastic post.
I think that the idea of trusting huge corporations with sketchy histories and practices is tough (umm, SIGG drama anyone?).
I for one try to avoid purchasing what I can from developing countries unless it's fair trade fair wages certified. This is the cynic in me that is distrustful of government regulatory bodies, corporations and the follow through.

I'd rather support locally made products (and handmade!) :)

Have you seen 'Hand Made Nation' yet? It's a fantastic doc.

Kellie said...

@ruiaf - By "young" I don't necessarily mean "child labor". Although, unfortunately there are still cases of child labor in many places in the world. In general though, my point is that there are people in a multitude of other countries who are sentenced to a life of working in factories to provide cheap crap for us in the United States because we demand that our big box stores sell things for ridiculously low prices. I wouldn't call it xenophobe, rather compassion.

Kellie said...

@Eco Yogini - Haven't seen it, but I'll definitely suggest it to our library! It looks good!

Amy Whitley said...

Thank you Kelli, for reminding me of the corrolation between climate change and simplified living. As I take steps in my own family life to simplify what we buy, what we eat, and what we do with our time, it's good to remember that things I deem as 'convenient' actually carry a steep price (often literally).

I've written for Blog Action Day today as well at my site,

ruchi said...

Kellie, very thoughtful post and I generally agree with you. I do think, though, it's important to think long and hard about what "relief" it is for that young girl in China.

Is relief losing her job at the bag factory and becoming a burden on her parents? Is relief for that girl an early marriage with children she can't afford to put through school?

I agree that labor conditions are often awful and that wages are abysmally low, but for many, the options are 1) bad job with low wages or 2) no job. Unsurprisingly, many people prefer option one to option two.

So I think we need to move away from this idea that we need to avoid products produced in China and instead fight for products to be produced ETHICALLY in China. So that that young girl still has a job, and is paid fairly to boot.

Green Bean said...

YES!! YES!! YES!!! You said everything I want to say about Climate Change but have never been able to find the words. So often, I forget why I'm living the way I do. It's so darn enjoyable that I forget what the trigger was - Climate Change. As you mention, though, individual action alone is not enough. We need to act collaboratively. Thank you for an inspiring, hopeful post about the most frightening topic around.

Diane MacEachern said...

This is very clever - maybe we should impose an "inconvenience" tax on consumption!


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