Monday, April 21, 2008

2 + 2 = 22?

Maybe Noah started this "2" thing. Everything in twos.

Now on an island (especially without roads) having two of everything is absolutely essential. You never know when something will break down, get lost, or you need to repair the item that broke with another item....all requiring extra parts/things on hand. Since everything is so difficult to obtain, it is an essential fact of life here.

However I noticed on my last trip to the U.S., where there are things in abundance and at hand, everyone has to have two (and most of the time) more than two of any one item. While I can understand the need for certain items, others are more frivolous except now people have made them out to be absolutely necessary and/or important in order to live a "full" life.

Here, we have about 2-3 shampoos to choose from, 2 brands of toothpaste, 2 brands of various soaps (laundry, for dishes and in the shower), 1 brand of dried beans, 1 type of packaged bread, 1 type of gasoline, 2 choices (normally) on the menu when you go out to eat. Well, you get the picture and, guess what? We survive and manage quite well.

We had two banks but for some reason one left the island and we are now in the clutches of "the only bank in town" and no ATM machine. Downside here is that the bank accepts a Visa Debit Card and I only have a MasterCard Debit card! We went from zero Internet cafes to 3 and then back to 2. We had one pharmacy for years and now we have two except the new one has a limited supply of drugs. We had 3 airline offices, now we have two. We seem to be going backwards on this duplication of services available!

Anyway, with the oil crisis (??) at hand and the price of electricity, gas, water, etc. soaring, you would think that people would be more conservative. But, no. I see no cut back either in the States or here on the island of people being more conservative. Oh, there are a few people that are consciously cutting back in order to save costs - but it is for that purpose and that purpose alone that it is done. Not necessarily to save the planet! Of course, for the most part, that is why people eventually cut back - to save money. I can say that the "gringos" are on the island are more conscientious about wasting water, managing things and garbage!

In the States one MUST have two cars. Understandable in many circumstances, but then the children each must have their own car (paid for by Mom and Dad). People just will not take the bus, even if bus service is available. Evidently, that is something that only the poorer people use and your status in the community would be affected. Even where car pooling would be an alternative, no one will make the effort to use this source of transportation - just too much work.
Everyone MUST have a phone, even children. I have heard reports that the kids use their phones in class for text messaging (the days of passing notes are gone) and are disruptive to the class. Why the school must tolerate phones being carried by children is beyond me. It was explained that parents want to keep track of little junior. Hmmmm, I'll bet that 99% of the calls/text messages are not to Mom and Pop as to their whereabouts.

When I was growing up, we had three pairs of shoes; one for dress up, one for school and one for play. We got shoes once a year, in September when school started, and you only got another pair if you outgrew those purchased in September. We had one T.V. and now every room must have a T.V. so that one will not miss any program while going from one room to another. And, even if no one is in the room, the T.V. must remain on so that if, by chance, someone happens to go in there!

Food is bought and wasted in huge quantities. Restaurants pile food upon plates that the average person could never finish. So, now obesity is a problem because there is too much available and, unfortunately, people tend to buy all the things that are bad for them, ignoring the good stuff.

Little things like ZipLoc bags (which are coveted on the island) are used and discarded after one use. Never mind that you save hundreds of dollars a year on these throw away items that can be used over and over again simply by the act of washing them out!

So, it is more about waste, I guess, than having more than 2 of everything. One can own more than two of each item and make them last for a long time with prudent use. However, all I see now is a throw-away society that spends more and more unnecessary money without a thought as to saving or the environment. Even if there is no thought to saving the environment, just the dollar savings a year on the waste from, say, ZipLoc Bags used in the U.S. could probably support a family in a Third World Country.

Of course, if people didn't waste things and throw them away, where would the poor people of the world get their food, building material, clothing?

1 comment:

  1. Your comment about TVs reminds me of dinner last night. We went out to a "Chinesse" restaurant (that's what it said on the cover of the menu!)and there were three TVs visible AND audible from our table. And EACH one had a DIFFERENT show playing! I wanted to stab a fork into my ears...