Posted by: soapchix | April 14, 2008

The Human Footprint

Did you all see ‘Human Footprint’ on National Geographic last night? In a nutshell, the program:

takes a look at the by-products of our consumption.

I watched it with my 11 year old daughter, and we both sat through the entire 2 hours (pausing it once to eat dinner) and it did a great job graphically illustrating what consumption looks like. There were a few moments where it was a bit heavy handed (“diapers: bad. cloth diapers: still bad. Think of all the water it takes to clean them!” Egad. I just can’t win!) and times when I felt guilty for even being alive (I consume 80 times more than someone in India! I buy too many clothes! Drink too much milk! Eat too many apples out of season!) and times when I felt a little smug (Ha! I may have too many pairs of jeans, but I don’t drink wine or beer!).

But I loved the overall, age old message: reduce, reuse, recycle. I loved the connections it made between the stuff we buy and what it takes to produce it. I especially loved watching it with my daughter…who, at 11, is one of the most aggressively marketed to groups in the country. Notice how all the cell phone companies have an 11-14 year old girl on a cell phone? My daughter has, and has been mentioning how much she really wants one. After watching how productions of cell phones are contributing to the deforestation of the Congo and the displacement of the Okapi (one of our favorite animals!) she exclaimed, “I can wait a little longer for a cell phone.”

Brooke is already really good at analyzing her spending–she saves most of her allowance and always asks me “Do you NEED that or just WANT it?” when we’re walking through Target. I’m still an alpha consumer and trying to cut back, so I’m happy to have these images in my mind–something to make me stop and think about what the global cost is. You know, for the times Brooke isn’t with me.

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