Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm Rich! A Shift in Perspective

So I've been looking at a lot of "green" blogs lately, trying to get tips on how to live a little greener, reduce my carbon footprint, live sustainably, etc. At times I see some of them suggesting things that would be great, but are pretty costly, and I start to feel sorry for myself.

I'd love to buy things like all-organic food for my family and our pets, as well as buy hand-made or all-natural clothing, soaps, and beauty products. (I realize a lot of these things I could make myself, but I'm super lazy, don't have a lot of time and am completely incompetent... ) I'd even like to buy things like a compost tumbler and one of those wind-energy converters. (Heck, I'd also like some new solar panels and a Prius, please.)

Even if the most basic of these things were not too expensive, I don't even have a Trader Joe's within 20 miles of me, let alone a health food store. So I would be spending more gas money running around, or more money for shipping if I ordered online.

Plus, my public library is positively miniscule and has a very small amount of money to buy new books, which they only do a couple times a year. So all these new books I've read about on blogs, like Food Not Lawns, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and Affluenza would have to be bought instead of borrowed. (Are you getting sick of my whining yet?)

Looking at all these blogs, I was getting pretty depressed, and feeling awfully sorry for myself. Then I came across Green Bean Dream's blog.

One of her entries was about wealthy people who were "going green." I started reading about YAWNs, (Young And Wealthy but Normal) and APLS (Affluent Persons Living Sustainably).

I kept thinking, "Well, I'm certainly not wealthy or affluent." But then, further down in the entry, there was a link to the Global Rich List. It's a site that gives you your monetary position in the world compared to the rest of the entire population.

Type in your family's income and you'll find you're probably in the top fifth of the richest people in the world. I'm currently in the top 5%, and I make an average salary. When I taught (yes, I actually took a pay cut from teaching), I was in the top 1%. And that was nowhere near six figures, let alone millions.

It's crazy how most of us think we are making so little, especially when we are living paycheck to paycheck and just "scraping by." But when you consider that we all have clean water, enough food to keep our families from ever going hungry, shelter, and clothing, let alone television, computers, etc., we're amazingly wealthy.

The 2008 Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines state that a family of four is below the poverty level if their annual household income is less than $21,200. But look how that stacks up against the rest of the world:

A family below the poverty level in the U.S. is still in the top 10% of the richest people in the world!

Thinking about it some more in terms of environmentalism, I realized that the whole point of trying to be more green is to buy less, use what you already have, and waste as little as possible. (I need to take a moment to smack myself on the head.)

I think that's why I enjoy Frugal Fridays so much. I get to read about how so many of you are already living green without doing it because it's the "in" thing to do or because it's in the news and on the movie screens, but simply because that's how you've chosen to lead your lives, and it lines up with your families' values. And most, if not all, of you embrace your circumstances and work with what you have and consider your lives full and rich beyond compare.

So really this is a big "thank you" to all of you who participate each week in Frugal Fridays over at Biblical Womanhood. I love reading about your lives as well as your tips. In a world so full of gloom and doom (especially about the environment), it warms my heart to read about so many families already happily doing their part for the world regardless (and sometimes because of) their circumstances. And it makes me keep a better perspective on my own life and how rich and full it already is.

Blessings to all of you!


Sheila said...

I really like this post. Thanks!

Brooke said...

i didn't change the pound to dollar and i was astonished that i was in the top 2%! once i corrected my error though, i am still in the top 10.5%. that's amazing.

and i was just mentioning to my mother at lunch how often i forget how blessed i am - in finances
AND in relationships.

Mrs. L said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog:) I really enjoyed reading this post too, it really is amazing to think about!