I recently went on vacation with my mother and sister. We traveled to the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando. During this time we burned countless amounts of greenhouse gases flying and driving, and contributed to the depletion of our earth’s natural resources by eating the non organic food provided to us as part of the vacation package. In terms of souvenir buying, my purchases in the Bahamas were good. I wanted to get my hair braided (a local self gift, obviously), a jar of locally made guava jam for a friend, and a sea shell necklace hand made in Freeport. Once back in the states however, I did not do so well. Throwing my beliefs to the wind, I splurged. I purchased official Universal Studios merchandise for friends, Jesse, and myself, as well as a pair of amazing looking sunglasses since mine had broken.
I’ll tell you one thing, it felt really good. As a child, I would often go to theme parks and watch all the other children in their park t-shirts with their theme park toys, and I would sigh knowing that that could not be me. If I was lucky, I would be able to purchase one tiny thing, and I would agonize over this decision. It makes it worse in some ways, because I’m a very stuff oriented person. Not that I want stuff for stuff’s sake, but I love stuff for the memories it brings. Every time I wear this ball cap and the sunglasses I got, I will remember my little sister almost dropping her butter beer ice cream because the dragon spouted a fire ball just as we were exiting the ice cream parlor, or the thrill of watching her actually be able to do magic with her recently purchased Luna Lovegood wand (true story, awesome stuff at Universal Studios Harry Potter experience, and I don’t even like Harry Potter!). Yes, I do have pictures, but I am not a visual person. The feel of something in my hands, to me, is so much more evocative. It doesn’t need to be something big (I’m really into ball caps right now for the practicality) but it helps if it is something I would have a reason to touch on a fairly frequent basis.
It is also amazing to buy something and not put in the normal amount of work I do into every purchase. If I buy new, anything I get is pretty expensive. I have to absolutely need it, and I need to do a ton of research to find a company and product I like. If I buy resale, I often have to wait. What I want isn’t necessarily there when I want it, so I simply have to keep stopping by and waiting and hoping that someone will donate whatever it is. For example, I once waited two years for a pair of leather heeled boots! Therefore, to see a hat and sunglasses I want and to just… buy them right then and there was a very special experience for me.
The above behavior is confusing to Jesse and my friends. Why am I so rigid at certain times, and then not at others? I know all the damage I just did to… well tons of stuff. I could argue about the value of SOME international commerce (a discussion for later) or talk about the sustainability of a lifestyle, which means for most people not being 100% all of the time (think the 80% 20% rule). Doing what I did brought me a lot of joy, and loosing that joy is what a lot of people fear when they entertain thoughts of a sustainable lifestyle. Can one splurge? And when can you do so?
I am currently reading a book called Simple Prosperity, and it is about creating a green and economical lifestyle. One of the subjects it discusses, is the connection we as Americans have to stuff and expensive vacations. So often we think we need things to be happy, when in actuality we do not. This is something I have experienced to be true. My minimalistic lifestyle has introduced me to joys I had never experienced before, from cooking and gardening to my bicycle commute. What this has done for me, is made me more aware of what goods and services will truly give me joy. It is not sustainable to vacation in Orlando every year, go to theme parks for four days straight, and buy large stuffed animal souvenirs on every trip. Yet, I have no idea if I will ever visit Universal Studios again. Once in my life I want to go to Disney’s Magical Kingdom, and to Seaworld (the ethicality of Seaworld is a whole other discussion) and I’m sure I will eventually take my children to Disney. So maybe in 10 years I will be back to Universal, but maybe not.
My takeaway from Universal, is by no means universal (hardy har, har, har). Take it as you will, but I have learned that no one is perfect, including myself. I do what I can, and I am hard on myself when I make a mistake. We are talking about the fate of the world here, and small child factory workers. But there is something to be said for joy too, that cannot be obtained through more sustainable means. After all, if we wanted to be truly sustainable we would just come together and jump off a building. We certainly would not ever travel for fun. Yet there is something added to the world through laughter, and good memories, magical wands and fire breathing dragons. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t help but believe that if we work hard every day to have a positive impact on the world, purchasing one trip or one item a few times a year that makes us or others truly happy is not a waste of carbon or labor.
For more about learning to live a sustainable lifestyle, what that means, and what and when to change things, try this article from global stewards.
This Week in Updates: Vacation Hangover
14 hours after getting back to my apartment, I was in the air again. Work and my neglected workout routine hit hard, and tired has been my mantra all week. I didn’t get a lot of sleep on the vacation, and my bed (MY OWN BED BY MYSELF!) has been my happy place. Even tired though, my creativity is high. Obviously I’ve been going through cooking withdrawal. My grocery shopping was on point, and I’ve accomplished a goal that I’ve been working on for almost a month. A cheap and easy and tasty quiche! That is so hard, given all the animal products that typically go into a quiche. I think this may be my proudest cooking moment, aside from the first time I made ricotta cheese on purpose and when I made my first batch of pasta. Now if only I could harness that repressed cooking energy into cleaning energy. My room is a disaster.
The Recipe: Cheap and easy Smoked Gouda Pizza Quiche!
The key to making a quiche cheap? Low dairy. That also makes this quiche low calorie too. The whole thing only uses one cup of shredded cheese. That’s the beauty of a pizza crust, as opposed to a quiche crust. Butter is terribly expensive.
1/2 recipe pizza dough (I love this one!)
1/2 can organic tomato pizza sauce (about 99 cents, make sure it is BPA free)
1 cup grated smoked gouda
3/4 cup soymilk
A sprinkle of oregano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a pie pan. Roll out pizza dough and put into pie pan, folding the crust inside. Beat together eggs and soymilk, and pour into crust. Bake until fork comes out clean, about 30 minutes. The eggs will have risen like a souffle. Take out and let it cool until it deflates. Pour pizza sauce over the eggs, and top with cheese and oregano. Put back in oven until cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!