Vintage Gas station

Our Impact On the World

I’m sure there are people who are living small who do it for the world, the environment, etc. With the realization that some of us on the planet are using far more of our resources than the rest. There are, also, I suspect, many who are simply looking for a different way of life, one that doesn’t involve a 24/7 concern with money, keeping up with the Joneses, etc. And probably honestly, there’s a continuum, as with many things in life. And on one end is the purely environmental concern, and on the other end a self-centeredness that none-the-less arrives at the same place.

On this continuum, I feel I started, quite honestly, more on the end of the scale of my own concerns. I have always hated wasted simply because of tight purse strings. Where other people would have replaced things, I would always try to repair them if it were practical. Unfortunately, it is not always so. For instance, a few years ago, a clothes dryer in my house up and died one day. It happened to still be under warranty, so I called in the repair squad. A week later it was fixed, and though I owed nothing, I was still given the bill. The cost of having someone come and replace a part amounted to nearly the original purchase price of my dryer! At first this seems impossible, how could it cost so much for one repair? And it’s really the other way around. We are taking advantage of cheap labor and resources in another part of the world when we buy the dryer. That plus an assembly line style of construction where a repair involves more intricate work of diagnosis and dis-assembly and re-assembly. Thus it comes, with the status quo, it’s often cheaper to just replace some items if you lack the skill to repair them yourself, which face it, mos of us don’t have. But the more I have come to understand how our world works, the more I have slid towards a concern for the future and the opposite end of my imagined continuum of altruism and self-centeredness.

Vintage Gas station
Photo Courtesy of US National Archives


One of fundamental concerns of our time should be fuel. Prices have risen so quickly in the last few years. Each world event from massive storms to revolutions on the other side of the world just push the prices higher and higher. One would think this would be something we could all agree on. For the sake of the environment and our economies, we should be working to wean ourselves, right? To use what we have efficiently and to find alternatives. But for everyone who is concerned, there seems to be plenty with their heads in the sand.

Yet, I have to say, I am one of those people with the stereotypical American SUV. At least my 2001 Blazer (amongst the last of its kind) is not an Expedition, HumVee, etc.! I very nearly bought a SMART car a few years ago when they first came to America. In the end, I examined my expenses and it just made no sense for me. I lived 5 miles from work, often worked at home, and had no car payment. And, perhaps it’s rationalization, but it seemed to me the act of consuming a new car rather than continuing to use my own (at the relatively low miles I drove) just didn’t add up environmentally either. Even with gas prices where they are now, I just can’t justify the outlay of cash on another car. So, it appears unless I end up with a significant commute, I will be driving this vehicle until it meets its maker.

What do you think? Do more people act out of altruism or other? Where do you fit on the continuum? Have you made financial or other sacrifices entirely out of a desire for a better world? Or are their times that you only act if the stars line up where both you and the planet benefit? Interested in knowing if I’m alone in my decisions.


  1. I hear you. I live in Canada, where fuel prices are a bit more expensive than they are for you (although nothing compared to Europes). I own a 1979 chevy pickup with a big ass engine, so it's just a fun vehicle for camping in the summer; as well as my daily driver, a 2001 windstar. As i commute no more than 10 minutes to work, at night, theres no point in buying something better on gas anyway. The way i figure it, by the time I am my father's age, gas reserves in the world will be so much lower, it makes no sense for me to bother spending thousands of dollars buying something newer. I own them both outright, and my insurance is low. I did spend a few grand getting my truck up to reliability standards i'm happy with, but now i plan to drive them both until they die, or until i cant get parts or find people who know how to fix carbureted vehicles, which is happening faster than i realised. The dealers wont touch my truck anymore because everyone just knows how to fix computer diagnostics now.

  2. I am also a minimalist, and wasnt planning on buying a house, and have only enough possessions to fill 2 pickup truck boxes. Would I be comfortable with the 100 thing challenge? I dunno, that may be an interesting challenge for me in the future. I do periodically go through my collection of crap and sell, recycle, throw away, etc. Until i met my g/f, who i will marry, i was going to fulltime RV it and work travel. Funny how life throws you curve balls like that. She has dogs, and wont accept anything less than a house because she wants a backyard and wont do condo fees. So, I'll just have to fulltime it after I retire. Oh well.
    Thanks for your blog, i just found it and plan to read it often!

    1. Ha, as they say, life is what happens while you are making other plans! Am hoping to finally get some solid time in my small camper van this spring. I don't know if I have full timing in me or not. I know when I travel abroad I eventually get tired of moving from place to place and just want to chill. But maybe when you carry your place with you. it's different?! We shall see!

      I've pruned my belongings a lot but nowhere near as small as yours, never mind the '100 thing' folks. I could easily prune it more, but at this point it's out of my sight. I am tempted reading this to have a spring cleaning anyway just so I know the stuff's not ALL there later, but it's a combo of having to get the folks to unlock the storage place for me and the fact it saves me nada in rent since I'm already in their smallest storage. Maybe it just waits until I have a solid grip on what's next.

      Glad you're enjoying and hope you'll pop in and share your thoughts on future posts. I've been caught up on some other projects but will try to get rolling again soon!

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