30 Days of So-Called Sustainability

In Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock taped his experience of eating 3 meals per day at McDonald’s for one month. 30 Days is a spin-off television show of that concept. Morgan hosts the show, but finds one or two guests to follow through on the 30 day immersion experience. In Off the Grid, Morgan sends two people to live at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage for 30 days.

From the Chinese-American perspective, I found this show to be fascinating. In China, you have several hundred million people seeking to live on the grid and join the 21st century. However, our modern lifestyle is resource intensive. Where will we find the energy, water and food for all these people? In America, you have a small band of people seeking the opposite route. While these people may have renounced consumerism, their lifestyle depends entirely on consumerism albeit by their neighbors. Recycling or reusing doesn’t exist unless you have a neighbor throwing away perfectly reusable goods. Biodiesel doesn’t exist unless you have restaurants and fast food chains producing vast amounts of grease. Basically, if everyone tried to live like the people from the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, their lifestyle would collapse because their would be no restaurants producing grease, no companies selling solar panels, and no consumers abandoning usable goods in dumpsters. So, while they do use less energy and water than most of us, I don’t think their lifestyle is sustainable.

2 comments… add one
  • jeannine Jun 29, 2008 Link

    I havn’t seen 30 days, i don’t thinks you would need to recycle end reuse if there wasn’t so much unecessary consumer waste being thrown away, and i don’t think that we would have to be thinking bout biodiesel if all the other harmless energy possibilities were being explored , People are just trying to make the best of now , by adapting to, and finding solutions that fit in with the variables of our present situation.

  • Tony Jul 7, 2008 Link

    I live at Dancing Rabbit and just wanted to share a few things that didn’t appear in the 30 Days episode, so may not be clear.

    It is true that we use cast off resources from the wider culture. But our main efforts at sustainability are by reducing our consumption. We have found that through cooperation and resource sharing and our personal choices we generally use about 10% of the resources of the average person in the US.

    Our main impact is not in using veggie oil to power our cars — it is that we only own 3 cars for 40 people and we drive 10% of the miles that most people do (in vehicles that get over 40 mpg). It is similar with electricity, water, and even the ecological impact of our food (eating a local primarily plant based diet).

    Our 10% usage is still probably higher than most people in China and probably too high for the global ecosystem to bear, but we are working on improving and trying to be an inspiration to others to reduce their impact as well.

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