Summer of Sustainability Week 2 Challenge - Avoid Any New Purchases (Other Than Food)
Ours is truly a world of things. One need only step into a Wal-Mart or other so-called big box store to see it. Not so long ago, children had two sets of clothes and any tear or stain was mended or cleansed, a family had one television at maximum, and a cell phone was a luxury reserved for the richest and trendiest among us. In just five decades, the world population has grown by almost five billion. Each one of those people is a consumer, whether they are buying a small bag of grain to get through the week or furnishings for a 27-story mega mansion (both ends of the spectrum can be found within a few miles of each other in downtown Mumbai)
Those of us living in developed countries often lose sight of how many things we buy. Out of sandwich bags? You most likely are buying a package of 50 or more. Heading to your local mall for a new shirt? I’ll bet you leave with something more. In 2010 (the latest year with available data), the average US consumer spending unit (either a family or single person) spent $48,109 on purchases. That, remember, is the average. This number includes fuels and healthcare, but since when is gasoline not a thing?
Fuels (and other utilities) make up the third highest expenditure for average households, after housing and food, almost $4,000 per year for the average consumer. In these dire economic times, most Americans and even more of the world would certainly be helped by a reduction in that number. Renewable energy is one piece of the solution – yes, one of many pieces – but it is an integral one. Each year, solar panels and wind turbines get cheaper and more efficient, and numerous less established technologies move toward commercial viability. In time (one hopes vehemently for a very short wait) renewables, in tandem with integrated smart grid technologies, will drastically reduce fuel expenditures, providing economic relief and flexibility to citizens across the globe.
Here in the UGE office, we are acutely aware of our environmental impact and the impact of constant buying on our already thin wallets. That is why, for our Summer of Sustainability Week 2 Challenge, we are making no new purchases other than food. This initiative, sponsored by the UGE in-house Green Team, aims to reduce the office’s carbon footprint and instill a sense of simplicity in our employees, for, as the great author Philip Wylie once said, “Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache.”
It is sometimes said, often in half-jest, that a materialist attitude towards life has been America’s greatest gift to the world. UGE aims to be among those who change that view. As an American company with offices in Asia and Europe, and customers in over 60 countries world wide, we hope to contribute to a sustainable revolution in energy production and living habits. With every rotation, our turbines cut down on green house gas emissions and make the world a cleaner and healthier place, and with each reused container, mended shirt and 5th Avenue window passed, our employees do the same. Join UGE in our Summer of Sustainability, and lend your voice to the building wave of change.
As always, our motto: Be Green, Be Great, Have Fun
Written by Nicholas DePaul