I propose a new way to think about the Great Recession in America. Instead of the middle class is dying, how about the dirty middle class is dying. The way of life where overconsumption and gas guzzling is more American than recycling or biking. If our energy supply can be both dirty and clean, why not our lifestyles?
Consider the average family spends 20% of their budget on transportation. That’s 10 weeks/year just to pay for car and gas. But what about the big gas guzzlers, the kind that cost $80 to fill-up. No one wants to pay $100 for gas but that is where we are headed. And yet there are plenty of them on the street. As those gas prices tick up I think they will slowly disappear and be replaced by bikes and EV’s.
Food is another area in slow decline. You might’ve heard that 69% of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s a lot of extra money spent on food, especially when times are tight. A new report shows our consumption of candy and processed foods has doubled in the last 30 years. What if a family were to save money by committing to healthy portion sizes, cutting out processed foods, and putting that savings towards college.
Last, think about the basic rule of disposable goods. They only work once and you have to buy more every week. Not only is this horrible for the environment but it costs a lot of money. Families could go broke following the jingles in commercials. And those who are pushing hard on – reduce, reuse, recycle – are again finding themselves with extra money to spend on family vacations.
After all, isn’t that what being in the middle class is about, family vacations? Being able to work, have fun, and save a little money for college or retirement. I thought so, but somehow that dream became owning an SUV, overeating, and buying something to throw out. But take solace in knowing that this dirty way of life is moving towards extinction. To be replaced by green families who ride bikes and have vegetable gardens.
It gives new meaning to the saying, there goes the neighborhood.