My new year's resolution for 2010 is that I am going to practice Voluntary Simplicity, vowing to make little enough money that I don't have to pay taxes toward war (so about $9,350 for the year), and so that every lifestyle choice I make is carefully thought out and in line with my values. I have started this blog to record experiences I have, share tips that I stumble upon, and learn from your tips as well.
I had an interesting experience a few days ago. I decided to take a walk and explore the bit of forest behind Lakeway Fred Meyer's, where I have heard there is a homeless encampment. I walked on a well-worn human trail through a young little forest, mixed evergreen and deciduous trees, with a creek running through it, and listened to the birds and the squirrels going about their business. There were several makeshift human shelters in there, made from tarps and other bits of "one man's trash, another man's treasure." There was also garbage strewn throughout the woods--food cans, clothing, plastic bags, kids' toys, and some rather large piles of bags of garbage (like, a heap 10 feet in diameter).
At first I was disheartened and disgusted that people would have so little respect for the forest home as to dump their daily trash all over it. Then I had another realization-- the people who live here live on very little money, whether that is by choice or by circumstance. If the same people who live here had "good jobs" and made a "descent living" (note the judgmental words so intrinsic to our language about money), these trees would have been clear-cut, the creek filled in, with houses built on it, and the rest paved over for their cars, with maybe a few tidy little lawns (the most environmentally destructive excuse for plant life). The forest would be gone, all the trees, the birds, the squirrels, the insects, the fish, anything downstream that was watered by that creek, the fresh air created by those trees, the leaf mulch composting, the microbes and worms regenerating healthy soil-- all gone.
Every house we live in, including mine, replaced a living forest when it was built. The more money we make and spend, the bigger we grow, the more houses and pavement we create, the more of nature we are destroying. Suddenly a pile of trash in an otherwise still-intact forest doesn't look as disrespectful of nature as my own lifestyle.