There are a lot of wonderful things that happened to me when I worked at my former job, Iowa Resource for International Service.  One of those things were the people I worked with.  One of those people is Alex.

I'm the 2nd from the left (yes, with the short dark hair); Alex is the 4th from the right. The rest were my co-workers who kicked ass that summer. Except the tall man in the middle. He's from Turkmenistan. Just another day at IRIS.


Alex has started a blog to document her New Years Resolution for 2011 – to buy Nothing New (restrictions apply, read her blog to find out more!).  I love love love this idea.  In 2009-2010 when I was living in the States (up until it came time to prepare to leave for Korea), I did something similar.  I tried to live an “ethical” life when it came to the land around me.  I stopped shopping at big box and retail stores (no Express, no Target, no Hyvee, etc.), trying to limit my purchases to used/local/fair trade/environmentally-friendly/vegetarian/organic (or comparatively produced) items.  I tried (and failed) to document it on a blog, and I transferred some of those articles to this blog (“Think Again” Category).  It was a very good time in my life – it feels very GOOD to know that you are doing your part to give longevity to this earth and to spend money on items that go back to people who are doing quality work and who face competition from places like Wal-Mart, or China.  I hope to return to that lifestyle when I return to America ( it would be very difficult to do here and the reasons I felt it was necessary before is because America and Korea treat these issues very differently in the first place).

Anyway, I’d like to offer a suggestion to my good friend Alex, and to all of you.  Consider trying to find A Good Life: A Guide to Ethical Living by Leo Hickman – it’s not the easiest book to find in the world.  I got it at a used book store in the sale pile.  But just your luck, that’s a link to Amazon, where you can buy it used!  This book really opened my eyes to see how inundated every aspect of our consumerism is.  Practically everything you buy, if you aren’t careful, is hurting our environment.  This book points out what is hurt, why it is hurt, how it is hurt, and alternatives to the conventional.  If you do have to buy things new, Alex, you should be aware of which things to buy.

Another book that I love, although it isn’t exactly along the same lines of what Alex is trying to do, is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  This is the book that really pushed me to stop buying things from chain stores and to reserve my money for local (or fair trade or hand made or second hand).  Anyway, I highly recommend it to everyone.

The last book which really changed my life as a woman was called “Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation” by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim.  This is the reason I use the Diva Cup, which I’m actually using RIGHT NOW and I happen to know a lot of people who are using it now, too.  And we all love it, so if you’re a woman, I want you to picture this:

That’s a Giant Panda.  Giant pandas weigh 220-330 pounds.  And that’s roughly the weight in used tampons and pads that the average woman will throw away in her lifetime.  And that doesn’t get recycled or reused.  It sits in a landfill.  The earth swallows that up.  And with a Diva Cup, you get a free pass out of that landfill.  Just another way to help this world live a little longer.

I’m going to be keeping up with Alex’s blog, and I hope you all do, too!