Archive for February, 2009

The upside of recession

February 28, 2009

It’s back to basics for Americans living through the worst recession since the Great Depression some 75 years ago. And what can I say? Recessions seem to be good for the environment. Something to be happy about these gloomy days.

Reading USA Today, I see that citizens are – wow! – giving up drive-through restaurants because this all-American convenience wastes gasoline, and therefore household money.

Kelly Porter, a Salem, Mass., mother of two young children is quoted as saying, “Anyplace where your car would be idling, I just automatically shut the car off.” What’s more, “I used to drive 80 on the highway, and now I never go over 70,” Kelly says. Her new driving method not only saves gas, the newspaper reports, it’s also 627247_washing_daysafer.

In the latest issue of National Geographic, I read about Janice Haney of Greensburg Kan., who is featured in a double-spread color photo hanging clothes out to dry. “We don’t have to waste electricity on the dryer,” Janice says. “The good old Kansas wind can do it on its own.” (Now, didn’t my mom used to say that 20 years ago: “Why run the dryer when you can just use the clothes line in the back yard?”)

Eating out is out, I read. Families are discovering the charm of cocking together and eating, everybody at the same time, around the kitchen table. “Giving up meals out of the house was tough, but once they did, they started saving and became closer as a family,” the USA Today says about the Walkers of New Haven, Mich. “Going to the grocery store and making dinner has become a family event,” mom Mitzi Walker says, pleased.

Hmmmh. Is this what it takes? A major economic crisis for us to rediscover the mossy lifestyles that our parents and grandparents enjoyed? Perhaps those days weren’t so bad, after all? We do know that those pre-internet, pre-globalization people didn’t waste energy the way us Baby Boomers learned to do. They were frugal and therefore pretty green.

Recession, got to love it.