May 3, 2010

Good day to the Friar Family!  Seems I have attracted the whole crew due to my Ode.  If anyone was wondering if the Friar was maladjusted you can stop worrying.  Look at his support network!  His friends and family come out to support him wherever he goes. 

Onto this week’s topic.  As I have gotten older I have become more aware of the world and my part in it and the effect I can have on it.  We just consume, consume, consume.  We don’t know where all the resources come from to make that coffee in the morning.   To look at just one small aspect of it, how much oil was burned to get that coffee from Brazil to your cupboard?  From the farm to the port to the store to your house.  That’s a lot of gas for a cup of coffee.

I think this need of ours to have the latest and greatest will be our downfall.  One of the most vivid pictures I have seen recently is from the cell phone recycling program.  They have been putting out boxes to collect them so they can either reuse them or recycle them.  After a few months they had filled their warehouse and the warehouse was huge!  Just speaking for myself, I have gone through 5 phone since I started at my current job, that is four phones in that recycling pile.  Staggering.

But I have a motorcycle.  A 1984 Honda Interceptor.  I love that bike and I’ll never get another.  Why?  Because it’s the one I have always wanted.  I remember seeing one come down my street one day when I was a kid. I saw it again in a magazine later that year and one day I went to the dealership to see it for real.  I was 12 years old.

After university I got a motorcycle.  Not the one I wanted but one that was suited to riding all over Canada.  And I did ride all over Canada. But that bike was not the one.  Even after becoming a bike mechanic and being able to ride the latest and greatest and the classic and bombastic, I still pined for my true love.

Then one day a guy who I knew from work had to sell his bike because his wife wanted it out of the garage.  It had 12,000 km on it and 5 owners and it was the one.  So I bought it and rebuilt it.  Took it right back to stock from the factory.  No fancy pipes, jet kits or clip ons.  Back to the way it was, the way it should be.

I am still riding that bike 10 years later.  This weekend the odometer rolled over 65,000.  And I plan to keep it for another 10 years.

So why is it the rest of our lives are so disposable?  I know that ad agencies prey on our weakness to have the latest and greatest but my TV was very good when I bought it and it still works,  it’s just not a flat screen 32 inch 3D. 

The real issue is our economy is based on consumption.  Look what happened when the US stopped consuming.  The whole world came to a screeching halt.

So maybe the answer is not to stop consuming or even to take away our ability to consume more than we need (cheap credit) but to be happy with what we have and not consume so much?

But that is a paradigm shift in thinking we may not be able to make.  All I know is my grandfather used the same tractor for 50 years.  My wife’s family still lives in the same house they always have.  So this way of living in new and while really cool, is not sustainable.



  1. You think too much.


    This comment was not mine.

  2. I don’t even own a cellphone.

    And I don’t plan to. Until I’m absolutely forced to…at gunpoint.

    If they can’t phone you, they can’t find you.

  3. Part of it is our fault – part of it is not. Some of the things you need to live your life are intentionally made to be disposable, to drive the economy – e.g. computers.

    While I would like to go back to pencil and paper engineering, with “olde skule” office dynamics e.g. secretarial staff, typing pools and so forth, using office equipment that will last the life of the staff, it’s just not going to happen.

    The part that we can control is our own “satisfaction”, as you have with your bike.

    I like cars. To be honest, I would be happy to purchase one particular model of car that is many, many years old and drive it forever.

    Realistically, I live in a wonderful country called Canada and the idiots who look after the roads in winter use corrosive salt in order to save themselves pennies on the dollar.

    If we used slightly more expensive freeze point depression chemicals, we could keep our cars pretty much forever.


  4. Like Brett said, once upon a time, stuff was made to last almost forever and if something went wrong with it there were repair guys who would fix it. Now stuff is made to last maybe a year and people laugh at you if you want it repaired. So you throw it out and get new. Once upon a time a department store would be small with a few rows for each department and only a few options for each item. Now we’re bombarded with mega-stores with a million options for everything. Once upon a time stuff was made and consumed in the same country – even the same province or town. Now our stuff comes from the four corners of the world and keeps coming and coming and coming.

  5. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, Satellite Direct Tv

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