Tuesday, June 14, 2005

books on conscious living

The Global Living Project was in the news today because Jim Merkel has a new book out that looks good; Radical Simplicity: small footprints on a finite Earth.

In the face of looming ecological disaster, many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a necessary step in transforming our unsustainable culture. Radical Simplicity is the first book that guides the reader to a personal sustainability goal, then offers a process to monitor progress to a lifestyle that is equitable amongst all people, species, and generations.

The website has a great page that explains the concept of one's "environmental footprint" with meaningful statistics.

It estimates how much of Earth's productive land and sea is used to produce the food, materials and energy that we consume and to assimilate our wastes. The EF
looks behind the scenes to really see what it takes to make an alarm clock, a cup of coffee, our clothes, our home and to operate our automobile.

The site also has some great links to other sites with the theme of voluntary simplicity. Several of them include the financial self-help book Your Money or Your Life as a source material. Its been many years since I read it, so I'll snip some PR:

Our old financial map, instead of making us more independent, fulfilled individuals, has led us to a web of financial dependencies. From birth to death we have become financially dependent -- on our parents for our first financial sustenance, on 'the economy' in order to get a good job, on 'the job' for our survival, on 'unemployment' handouts to tide us over between jobs, on our pension to pay our way in old age and on Medicare if we get sick before we die. The material progress that as supposed to free us has left us more enslaved.

At some point in the last forty years, though, conditions began to change. For many people, material possessions went from fulfilling needs to enhancing comfort to facilitating luxury -- and even beyond to excess. Unlike the past, problems began to emerge that could not be solved by providing more material goods. The planet itself began showing signs of nearing its capacity to handle the results of our economic growth and consumerism -- water shortages, topsoil loss, global warming, ozone holes, species extinction, natural resource degradation and depletion, air pollution and trash buildup are all signs that our survival is in question. Even though we 'won' the industrial revolution, the spoils of war are looking more and more spoiled. New tools for navigation are needed. What we need is a new financial road map that is based on current global conditions and offers us a way out.

They offer a nine step program to create that road map. The step that made the most impact for me was tracking everything I spent. This was an eye opener. It also had a great method for paying down consumer debt. If you would like help with that, I highly recommend it.

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