Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I just finished the book Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende. Anyone who knows me will understand that this is my kind of book. I've become almost obsessed with trying to pare down our life, both out of a sense of frugality and also the desire to lessen our dependence on big industry.

I was excited to see the book in the mail yesterday afternoon and just finished it. It's on the small side but packed with information that really made me think. I thought I would post a quote that really stuck with me...

"First, a modern automatic machine is no mere tool. It is a complex fuel-consuming being with needs of its own. It gobbles up energy; it demands care and maintenance; it even has bouts of temperament. In many cases no diaper will contain its mess. And all this on top of the initial chuck of cash it bites-its purchase price-which often amounts to a king's ransom. For these reasons, it not only serves but must be served. But it is more than another mouth to feed; as it becomes more involved and involving, it can easily invade the living space we formally reserved for ourselves, taking on functions once our own."
When I read this I just said, "Wow!" This is exactly the sentiment I have expressed to Paul so many times. We don't own a nice sound system or big screen TV but have friends and family who do. Looking at the space and money needed to house and maintain such equipment I am in awe. Much of this type of thing is used as an escape from the hardships of life and working. I often wonder if getting rid of the equipment and the needs it generates would alleviate the need for escape. Would getting rid of all the non-essentials eliminate the need to work at a job that requires escape?

So this brings me to the question of how much technology to use. I can look at the washing machine and see the benefits and drawbacks of such a machine. Having done laundry with washtubs and a hand wringer I know the health benefits but also see the huge drain on my time. So the drawbacks of the machine, the money needed to run it, are outweighed by the time I save. I can't say the same thing about the dryer. We have one but can't use it because we don't have a 220 outlet. For the last 6 months I have hung the laundry out to dry. It is a pain when the weather is bad but it's free. Why pay the exorbitant electric bill to generate what I already have for free, wind and heat? Yes there is a little more time involved, hanging up the laundry, and I have to plan ahead and watch the weather to make sure we have enough clothes during those times it's raining; but in my mind the benefits far outweigh the little demands.

I could go on and on but I think I want to digest a bit more before I post anymore of my thoughts. This just reminds me of why I enjoy reading so much, it forces me to think and question. Now that I have something to chew on I'm off to take the laundry off the line...

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