This is Natalie here. Each Thursday my husband, Sheridan, will be writing a blog post talking about something finance/budgeting related. Sheridan has his MBA in finance and works as a sr. financial adviser for a large fortune 500 company. We are finding that when people start to get healthy physically, they start to get healthier in other areas of their life including finance. I hope you enjoy these weekly blog posts as much as I do!
The article this week is really more of a thought experiment that I put myself through recently. I wanted to share it with you, and hopefully you find a few minutes to go through the same thought exercise. I started the experiment one morning as I was starting my drive to work. I asked myself five questions about the resources I consume each day, and the quantity of resources I will consume in total throughout my lifetime. As you read through each question take a few moments to visualize the quantities or do some quick math and get a numeric estimate for each question:
- How many cows, chickens, pigs, and fish will exist on earth for the purpose of providing my body with nutrients?
- How much coal, oil, and natural gas will be consumed to provide energy to heat and cool my home, provide an energy source for my car, and provide electricity to my house?
- How much water will I consume over the course of my life to wash my clothes, shower, consume (drink), water my lawn, and grow the fruits and vegetables that I will buy at the store?
- How many plastic bags will I use to pack my lunches, bag my groceries, and line my kitchen & bathroom garbage cans with?
- How much iron ore and other precious metals will be pulled from the earth to build the cars I will drive, buildings I will work in, bridges I will cross and electronics & other devices I will use?
Obviously this is not an all-inclusive list of the resources we consume, but these questions provided some clarity to the sheer magnitude of resources that must be consumed by each of us during our lifetime. I did not go through this thought exercise because I think consumption is bad, in fact consumption is required for human life to exist on earth. My intent was to create a visual in my mind of just how many different resources I consume and the quantities I will consume over the course of my life. I wanted to fully appreciate how many and how much resources are required for my existence.
As I reflected on this thought experiment I started to think of ways I could cut down a little each day on my overall resource consumption. Maybe I could take a shorter shower, maybe I could bring reusable bags to the store, maybe I could plan my day a little better to cut down on the miles I drive, maybe I could do a little better making sure food in my fridge rarely spoils before it is consumed, maybe I could…
Imagine how much of an impact you would have on the total quantities you visualized earlier if you were able to find on average a 10% reduction in your resource consumption (literally go back to the visuals in your head from early and think about how much smaller the quantities would be if you did a little more to use a little less). Now imagine if it was not just you making this change, but all of us together finding ways to be more efficient with our resource consumption. It is incredible the impact we can make.
When I think of resource consumption it remind me of a book I read to my children a few months back called The Giving Tree. The story is about the relationship and love this tree has for this boy, and how much the tree gives, and gives, and gives because of the love the tree has for this person. I think the earth is similar to the tree from The Giving Tree. The earth might not actually possess human emotions like love, but our precious earth does continue to give, and give, and give so that we can exist. While we might not be able to return the favor and give something in return, maybe each of us using a little less each day is enough to show our appreciation.