From time to time I like giving you a glimpse of Joe Dominguez, the originator of the 9-step program in Your Money or Your Life. We were aware from the mid-80’s that over-consumption isn’t just a personal problem. It’s planetary. The Ecological Footprint is a reliable and respected measurement that shows that we are in eco-debt – in fact, we’re spending down the resources of the planet. In response to that, Joe, a mechanical engineer by training and a Mr. Fix-it by avocation, wrote the following Ode to a Broken Toaster nearly 20 years ago:“Honey, the toaster’s broken. Let’s trow it out. They’re on sale through Friday.”
What did this toaster cost – not to you, but the earth?
The plastic parts consumed ___ gallons of oil to manufacture.
The mining of its steel and chrome sides required:
- clearing ___ acres
- losing ___ trees
- and ___ cubic feet of topsoil
- and ___ gallons of oil.
The manufacture of the sheet metal required ___ kilowatt hours of energy.
To mine the nickel-chromium heating element ___ acres were cleared, cutting down ___ trees and removing ___ cubic feet of topsoil, plus consuming ___ gallons of oil and ___ kilowatt hours of energy.
The forming of the plastic and the stamping, bending, drilling and coiling of its metal consumed ___ kilowatt hours.
The assembly of its components used up ___ more kilowatt hours.
The cardboard box it was shipped in consumed ___ trees, the Styrofoam packaging created ___ cubic feet of CFCs and it took ___ gallons of gasoline to deliver it to the store.
You drove ___ miles to the mall to buy it, at ___ miles per gallon.
Your daily piece of toast consumes ___ kilowatt hours.
Then the contact points of the thermostat switch pitted (costing less than a dollar).
So you throw the toaster out, consuming ___ cubic feet of landfill.
Currently The Story of Stuff is revealing this same cost of consumer items. Check it out!
Most suggestions about how to reduce personal or ecological debt tell you WHAT to do. Your Money or Your Life gives you a mirror to look it so you decide yourself what you want to do. This Ode and the Story of Stuff are both powerful mirrors.
Have your lifestyle changes been impacted by awareness raising about the cost to the earth of your consumer habits? How so? If not, speak up. Let’s learn together what makes a difference.