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8 Elephants Worth of Stuff
Old 09-15-2016, 07:58 PM   #1
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8 Elephants Worth of Stuff

A thought provoking article.

If you think 8 elephants' worth of stuff is too much, you're right | Ensia

"How much raw material does it take to support you? If you’re an average African, about 3 metric tons (3.3 tons) — the equivalent of an elephant’s worth of biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and nonmetallic minerals — per year. But if you’re an average North American, make that a whopping eight elephants.

And those elephants are getting heftier. Even as a growing population puts more pressure on Earth’s resources, we’re becoming less efficient in our use of raw materials — essentially using more than ever to generate a specific amount of economic activity."

It is often easier to point out the problem than it is to find systemic solutions. A good starting point it seems would be a recognition that social, environmental, ethical and economic issues are in fact interconnected.
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Old 09-15-2016, 11:15 PM   #2
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Good article. Thanks for posting. We're probably over 8 elephants at our house and trying to cut back by decluttering bit by bit. I probably took 10 bags of stuff to the thrift shops this month and we've still got a ways to go.
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Old 09-16-2016, 12:03 AM   #3
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.

It wouldn't be just house clutter and cleaning out your closets.

If you travel, eat/drink in restaurants/bars, remodel, upgrade and enjoy playing with grown-up toys... you are utilizing more resources than those who don't.

It is all a matter of perspective. One man's 'wasted resource' is another man's priority.

.
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Old 09-16-2016, 04:41 AM   #4
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You wouldn't use so many elephants if you had to scoop up after them.
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Old 09-16-2016, 09:22 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Helena View Post
.

It is all a matter of perspective. One man's 'wasted resource' is another man's priority.

.
Right. and that 'wasted resource' is the means of providing the livelihood for someone else. It could even be the livelihood for one of those Africans getting by on one elephant's worth of stuff and striving to raise his family's living standard to one and a half elephants.
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Old 09-16-2016, 09:58 AM   #6
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You wouldn't use so many elephants if you had to scoop up after them.
. Good point. If I cleaned out all the LEGO's or similar constructional toys from my house, there wouldn't much **it to scoop. But I consider them as good scoops in my world, but I have cleaning nevertheless.
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:34 AM   #7
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Exactly. That's why we are all encouraged to consume and consume...we are in effect feeding other people's menageries.

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Right. and that 'wasted resource' is the means of providing the livelihood for someone else. It could even be the livelihood for one of those Africans getting by on one elephant's worth of stuff and striving to raise his family's living standard to one and a half elephants.
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:56 AM   #8
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We can control only our own elephants. DH and I share elephants, too.
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:12 AM   #9
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You wouldn't use so many elephants if you had to scoop up after them.
Agreed......it is quite often developing nations that find themselves scooping up after others. Unlike wealthier developed countries, those in 2nd & 3rd world nations lack the infrastructure & other material/economic resources to effectively manage the consequences of things like climate change.
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:42 AM   #10
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And those elephants are getting heftier. Even as a growing population puts more pressure on Earth’s resources, we’re becoming less efficient in our use of raw materials — essentially using more than ever to generate a specific amount of economic activity."
Well then - 'It's elephants all the way down'
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Old 09-16-2016, 12:26 PM   #11
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A thought provoking article.

If you think 8 elephants' worth of stuff is too much, you're right | Ensia

"How much raw material does it take to support you? If you’re an average African, about 3 metric tons (3.3 tons) — the equivalent of an elephant’s worth of biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and nonmetallic minerals — per year. But if you’re an average North American, make that a whopping eight elephants.

And those elephants are getting heftier. Even as a growing population puts more pressure on Earth’s resources, we’re becoming less efficient in our use of raw materials — essentially using more than ever to generate a specific amount of economic activity."

It is often easier to point out the problem than it is to find systemic solutions. A good starting point it seems would be a recognition that social, environmental, ethical and economic issues are in fact interconnected.
Do you have suggestions on how you are directly reducing your own use of resources?
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Old 09-16-2016, 01:01 PM   #12
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Do you have suggestions on how you are directly reducing your own use of resources?

I can't speak for the OP... but I use less resources than people who "live large" because I live frugally and simply.

I don't live the simple lifestyle to reduce my resource footprint.

I prefer the simple lifestyle.

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Old 09-16-2016, 01:47 PM   #13
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Do you have suggestions on how you are directly reducing your own use of resources?
Not the OP but I got interested after reading a homesteading magazine. That was too much work, but then I found out about urban homesteading. That has become a hobby - more energy and water efficient home and appliances, buying used / thrift shops when we can, rechargeable batteries, solar gadgets, decluttering / donating what we don't use, reducing meat consumption, making our own cleaning supplies, reducing disposable items, getting used books at library book sales, starting an herb garden and simple actions along those lines that don't involve owning livestock or using rototillers.
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Old 09-16-2016, 02:11 PM   #14
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I focus on efficient use of resources.

I personally change the oil in all our vehicles (three of them) and see that the used oil is recycled.

I am happy that I am doing my part.
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Old 09-16-2016, 02:17 PM   #15
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Do you have suggestions on how you are directly reducing your own use of resources?
I suppose like many others on this forum and elsewhere here are a few things DW & I do in an attempt to reduce our footprints:

- We've switched to vegetarian diets. The commercial raising of livestock consumes disproportionate amounts of the planet's resources for grazing and distribution. We aren't militant about our choice and will defer to whatever is being served food-wise when we are guests of others.
- We made the choice years ago to live within close proximity of our j*bs. This permits us to bicycle & walk at every opportunity (I still w*rk and bike daily to my J*b). The exercise benefit is a secondary plus! Biking is also great for decompressing at the end of the w*rk day and allows one to be in a better frame of mind when arriving home.
- Living in a desert area, we landscape with low water use plants, have low water use appliances (clothes & dishwasher) and are careful about water use in general.
- I'm sure like many others on this forum, before making purchases we ask ourselves, "is this a 'need' or a 'want'?" When we do purchase it is done with an eye toward value, which sometimes means spending more for greater durability, usefulness and life expectancy.

Just a few things and I'm sure there is more we could do. We always enjoy getting ideas from other folks about how they minimize their consumption.
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Old 09-16-2016, 02:24 PM   #16
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Not the OP but I got interested after reading a homesteading magazine. That was too much work, but then I found out about urban homesteading. That has become a hobby - more energy and water efficient home and appliances, buying used / thrift shops when we can, rechargeable batteries, solar gadgets, decluttering / donating what we don't use, reducing meat consumption, making our own cleaning supplies, reducing disposable items, getting used books at library book sales, starting an herb garden and simple actions along those lines that don't involve owning livestock or using rototillers.
- These are great! I forgot to mention we have an herb garden going in our backyard. DW recently retired from teaching and has been experimenting with making her own cleaning supplies.

You'd be surprised at what one can find at thrift stores, especially those in high brow areas.

We have grid-tied solar that generates a surplus (I know there are those who will debate whether or not that reduces one's footprint). Here in the desert SW with the quantity of sun hours we receive roof top solar does make sense.
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:11 PM   #17
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- These are great! I forgot to mention we have an herb garden going in our backyard. DW recently retired from teaching and has been experimenting with making her own cleaning supplies.

You'd be surprised at what one can find at thrift stores, especially those in high brow areas.

We have grid-tied solar that generates a surplus (I know there are those who will debate whether or not that reduces one's footprint). Here in the desert SW with the quantity of sun hours we receive roof top solar does make sense.
Yes, I only shop at the finest thrift shops. My favorite is a charity shop down the street from Tiffany and Co.

For us the roof top solar numbers don't work out, but we still do things like hang the clothes out on racks (my solar dryer) and have solar lighting outside. I have a solar oven and dehydrator on my Amazon to buy list. We're also thinking of just getting some RV type solar panels to run the laptops or maybe some small appliances.
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:17 PM   #18
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Agreed......it is quite often developing nations that find themselves scooping up after others. Unlike wealthier developed countries, those in 2nd & 3rd world nations lack the infrastructure & other material/economic resources to effectively manage the consequences of things like climate change.
People in undeveloped countries worry about lack of clean drinking water or their next meal, not that it might be 1/10 of a degree warmer.
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:41 PM   #19
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I can't speak for the OP... but I use less resources than people who "live large" because I live frugally and simply.
+1

Frugal is green, always has been.
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:46 PM   #20
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I suppose like many others on this forum and elsewhere here are a few things DW & I do in an attempt to reduce our footprints:

- We've switched to vegetarian diets. The commercial raising of livestock consumes disproportionate amounts of the planet's resources for grazing and distribution. We aren't militant about our choice and will defer to whatever is being served food-wise when we are guests of others.
- We made the choice years ago to live within close proximity of our j*bs. This permits us to bicycle & walk at every opportunity (I still w*rk and bike daily to my J*b). The exercise benefit is a secondary plus! Biking is also great for decompressing at the end of the w*rk day and allows one to be in a better frame of mind when arriving home.
- Living in a desert area, we landscape with low water use plants, have low water use appliances (clothes & dishwasher) and are careful about water use in general.
- I'm sure like many others on this forum, before making purchases we ask ourselves, "is this a 'need' or a 'want'?" When we do purchase it is done with an eye toward value, which sometimes means spending more for greater durability, usefulness and life expectancy.

Just a few things and I'm sure there is more we could do. We always enjoy getting ideas from other folks about how they minimize their consumption.
Those items are really helpful to hear about--thanks for posting them. My cardinal rule on acquiring things is to refuse it and make do. The fact that we get on a plane a few times a year is probably the worst thing we do that adds to our elephants, unfortunately, but I don't see a way around that. Sometimes I think about growing up with hand-me-downs and one car (a driving vacation every four years to visit the grandparents, period) and clotheslines full of frozen clothes in the winter, and later making virtually all my clothes (sewing a bikini was pretty tough but hey, it worked) and comparing today's life to that. DH and I purposefully used clotheslines ourselves for a few years and I remember my MIL thinking that was the oddest thing, not to use a dryer. So much stuff today.
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