I can't help but admit to thinking ever since I starting living in France, how wasteful we Americans are. Such normal actions for the French such as bringing reusable shopping to do your grocery shopping instead of accumulating wasteful plastic and paper bags at the super market are such easy gestures to help decrease wastes but for some reason, its something that we cannot incorporate into our daily lives.
Buying large quantities of food that will just end up in the trash a few weeks later is also another wasteful American habit. In France, people have smaller fridges so they buy less food. They are forced to buy only an near exact amount of food that will be almost completely eaten by the end of the week.
One fellow teacher at one of my schools told me a story about his stay in the states with an American host family. During dinner one night apparently the wife slightly overcooked a whole chicken in the oven and just threw it in the trash like it was chard black. I was pretty embarrassed by that story but I think that throwing away a slightly burned chicken is a little extreme and not many people would do the same thing.
Even unused electricity in apartment buildings is conserved in France and most of Europe. When there is no one in the hallway, the lights turn off automatically. When you need light, you push a button and voila. Why do we need to have 24 hour lights in hallways when they are not being used? But both in the USA and France there is the great invention of the motion sensor for both indoor and outside lighting. I think that we're catching on to that trend!
The list goes on and on. European's having smaller cars and thus burn less gas. They also have only about 1 television per household compared to about 3 or 4 for a house in the US. Even the toilet paper in the US is more wasteful then in Europe. Americans like to buy several layered, perfumed smelling toilet paper while in France, there is only one layer and no perfums which equals less trees cut down and less waste in the sewers. I read in a newspaper that Americans use 4x more toilet paper than Europeans! And I'm pretty sure that Americans don't go to the bathroom more often than the French lol.
Thankfully, since times are changing and since wallets are becoming lighter and lighter, people's lifestyles are changing. Now I'm not saying that this economic crisis is a good thing with all of the job layoffs and people loosing their homes, but I think that we can see something positive in this whole situation. We need to change our lifestyles. We could not keep spending and consuming like we have for so many years. This is the time to realize that most of the things that we buy we don't need. Why do you need 10 different body-sprays when you can buy just one that's actually a good quality? And the same goes for many other every day wasteful buys: shoes, clothes, makeup, home decor, etc.
Don't we all know the saying "Money doesn't buy happiness"?. Are we trying to prove to others that we are better the more wasteful we are just because we can be?
I admit to being one of those wasteful Americans once. I would leave the lights in my room on for hours even if I wasn't there. I would throw away tons of food because I didn't feel like saving it to eat later. And to think of all of the Starbucks paper cups that have gone in the trash when I could have brought a reuseable mug? But it's not just living in France that made me change my lifestyle, but by starting to pay bills and educating myself.
So the point of this post is basically, rethink what you buy and what you use. Always ask yourself, "do I really need this?" or "can I buy a less wasteful product?" Etc etc.
I'm curious, what do you all think?