The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New Reality

By Tricia Dower

I posted an article on my Silent Girl Speaks blog called “Why It’s (Once More) the Economy, Stupid,” suggesting we have to be careful that the economic downturn doesn’t lead to an increase in worker exploitation, domestic violence, discrimination, and other social ills.

What I didn’t mention was that the financial crisis, in combination with the dual threats of energy shortages and climate change, has spawned a new protocol. When public opinion forced a bailed out and bawled out US bank CEO to cancel a corporate jet order, he admitted, “We were slow to recognize the new reality.” As the economy worsens, taxpayers funding bailouts of businesses and needy citizens will be quick to pounce on behaviour they consider profligate. Conspicuous consumption will be out and frugality in. Here are a few signposts to the New Reality:

  • SUVs are out. Hybrid cars, bicycles, buses, subways, streetcars, and walking are in.
  • Flying is out. Riding the rails is in.
  • Cruise ships are out.
  • Bananas and pineapple are out unless you live where they grow. Eating local is in.
  • Vegetarians are in.
  • Homemade beer and wine are in.
  • Canning and preserving are in.
  • Breastfeeding is in.
  • Eating out is not in unless it’s at a potluck or your parents’ place.
  • Dishwashers are out unless they’re people.
  • Clothes lines are in.
  • Library cards are in.
  • Plastic water bottles are out.
  • Reusable canvas shopping bags are in.
  • Designer clothes are out unless they’re seconds with the labels slashed.
  • Used furniture is in.
  • Recycling bottles, plastic, newspapers, metal and what have you (and no longer want) is in.
  • Composters and backyard/balcony gardens are in.
  • Air conditioning is out. Windows that open are in.
  • Couch surfing is in.
  • $12 movie tickets are out. Rent-a-flick and bargain nights are in.
  • Seniors and student discounts, grocery store coupons, and two-for-one sales are in.
  • Garage and yard sales are in.
  • Darning socks and mending holes in pockets are in.
  • Leftovers are in.
  • Day old bread is in.
  • Public parks and paths are in.
  • Rain barrels are in.
  • Cloth diapers are in.
  • Solar panels and wind turbines are in.
  • Saving rubber bands and paper clips is in.
  • Flushing less often is in. (I hate this one.)

What's else? Help me out here.

If my parents were alive they might have some suggestions. I remember their Great Depression tales: standing in line for cabbages, my father grateful for construction work on one of FDR’s New Deal projects. They more happily remembered their community of friends who helped to feed each other and celebrated when one of them found work.

One good thing could come out of this: people might stop feeling ashamed for not having the latest and greatest of everything. Starving artists might finally be in.

Clothes lines are in: photo by Dori Moreno


Blogger T. Lee said...

Many of these are part of my lifestyle already, so it's no big sacrifice. Although, I'm not sure I can give up bananas.

Sat Feb 21, 11:13:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Tamara, you are one of the "innest" people I know. Don't sweat the bananas.

Sun Feb 22, 03:47:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

great suggestions Tricia!

Mon Feb 23, 01:06:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger T. Lee said...

Heh, thanks Tricia. I suppose if it's in to feel like you're out, then in I am...

Mon Feb 23, 04:54:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Lydia Theys said...

Hi Tricia,
All these (except the bananas--oh, the shame!) have been in my lifestyle forever. All but one. The dishwasher. Electric dishwashers, when run properly, are far more energy and water efficient than hand washing! So people should feel good about using that life-easing piece of equipment. Unless, of courese, they are like so many families who buy a new one every three years.

Wed Feb 25, 09:04:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

So glad to hear that about dishwashers, Lydia. I have one and now can use it guilt-free!

Wed Feb 25, 05:05:00 pm GMT-5  

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