Thursday, June 30, 2011

Radical simplicity

I just finished reading Jim Merkel's book Radical simplicity: small footprints on a finite Earth.  Mr. Merkel is an engineer who has radically reduced his own carbon and ecological footprint, and gives tips on why and how others might do likewise.

Merkel noted how since 1978 humans claimed the entire sustainable yield of the earth, and ever since have  been drawing down on resources at an unsustainable rate.  Americans in particular consume a vastly larger "share of the pie" than most others around the world.

He provides charts and tools to help people measure their ecological footprint.  Setting goals to live a richer and simpler lifestyle is encouraged. He also recommends readers to practice advice provided in the book Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robbins and Joe Dominguez.

He references the following valuable frugal tips:

  • Buy what you need but don't "go shopping"
  • Take care of what you own
  • Do it yourself
  • Anticipate  your needs
  • Get it for less
  • Buy it used
  • Pay off your credit-card balance
  • Walk or bicycle to do errands
Lastly Mr. Merkel recommends spending time daily in nature.  He notes the benefits of observing the natural environment and learning how the ecosystem works in a small defined area.

The goal of this book is to help most of us move through the following four stages.

  1. Unconscious unsustainability
  2. Conscious unsustainability
  3. Conscious sustainability
  4. Unconscious sustainability
Mr. Merkel's book is certainly a great consciousness raiser while also providing a wealth of ideas about ways to radically simplify ones lifestyle.

Interested in seeing how large a carbon footprint you have?  A website, carbon footprint, can lead you through an analysis.

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