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Report: Americans Hogging World Resources

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US workers put in 12 weeks more work time per year then we did in 1969, and it's only increasing: the average work week expanded another 3-4 hours in the last few years. The position "money means happiness" may have sustained us for a while, but will have to be rethought when reduction becomes more important than consumption.

Many fisheries have already closed down and alarming projections for over-fishing tuna may haunt us sooner then we think, via price and availability. Though we need to fish at sustainable rates, we don't - though we need to forest at sustainable rates, we don't. What does that say about our future? Do we not love our children enough to hand our kids a manageable planet?

Defend your practices - are you a waster? Do you leave lights on, throw things out that can be recycled? The US needs to reassume leadership in the world, starting with each of us as individuals. There are many remedies staring us in the face to adjust our lifestyles to consume drastically less.

The average American travels over 40 minutes one way to their place of work. Living where you work helps the idea of local, sustainable economies, as does shopping in mom and pop stores instead of franchises that extract the profits from the community - and banks especially. Buying locally grown food is tastier and healthier, but we often shop only with cost in mind. During the McMansion boom, we built houses much larger then our practical needs, now biting us in the butt as energy costs rises and home values fall.

Ride share, drive a sensible car, or better yet walk, ride a bike or motorcycle (I have my whole adult life). Europeans have voluntarily paid $7 per gallon gas for more then 12 years to diminish reliance on motor vehicles. Refuse plastic bags and excess packaging where ever possible. Resist buying worthless trinkets - though it's laughably inexpensive to buy dollar-store crap these days, it clogs our waste streams and land fills. Perhaps you didn't consider the full cost of these "cheap" purchases?
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In short, be green - you know when you're not. Work for solar and wind realities - there is enough wind and sun in just three states to power the whole country if only we build the collection apparatus.

Think about your kids because if you don't, they will ask you one day why you let America become so foolishly wasteful. Americans are not pigs, but we are sheep - we have allowed the pigs to shape our worlds, and we need to become more active in controlling our own destiny as we are being misrepresented.

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Don't let the few pigs in high places guide our most important economic and environmental policies, shaping our habits and buying. In America, we are so blinded by the concept of a "bargain", we don't consider the many other considerations - national/regional trade imbalances, resource sustainability, human rights, environmental abuses. Pay more for products if it will benefit your community and your children's future! There are fine corporations offering many alternative products - organic, green, conflict-free, dolphin safe, etc. But don't just follow the simple American consumer "flock" - they have "grazed away" all the economic vitality and uniqueness of their own cities and towns by shopping at "cheap" franchises and box stores.

No longer is awareness an excuse - you now know China and India will be competing for our resources in a major way, with the rest of the world right behind them. Our extravagant consumption years are running out. Will you continue the same practices in your home?

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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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