Whether or not we’re actually in a recession (it feels like one from where I’m standing), there’s been a lot of discussion about if that could be a good thing for the environment.
The pro side’s argument goes like this: Yes, because people spend less during a recession. That means fewer miles driven and flown, fewer factory items shipped, more items reused and recycled rather than replaced.
Sounds logical, right?
But the con side makes reasonable points, too. No a recession isn’t good for the environment, this argument goes, because less spending means less money for things that benefit the environment: clean technology, green innovations, fair-trade and organic foods, and so on.
Still, while I’m not wishing hard times on anyone, I do see an upside to the current tough economy. Look at all the news stories about moms who now make their own laundry detergent and grow their own vegetables. Or the features about upscale urbanites who are increasingly shopping at second-hand (designer) stores. Or the reports about companies establishing shuttle bus services to get their employees back and forth to reduce individual gas expenses.
From my own perspective, it’s been a little good, a little bad. I don’t always buy organic foods as much as I used to, but I am gardening more. And while I can’t make it out to my favorite co-op as often as I once did (too far a drive when gas is nearing $4 a gallon), I am making more meals from scratch, even baking my own bread and making my own tortilla chips and potato chips.
I have to conclude that, while a recession isn’t in and of itself a good thing for the environment, the awareness it raises of our frivolous spending habits and wasteful ways is a good thing. And if that lasts after the economy revs up again, that’s got to be a plus.
What do you think? I’d be interested to hear how all of you are dealing with tough times and whether you think it’s made you a better, greener person.