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The American Way?

May 28, 2008

This weekend like many people J. and I had a long weekend but didn’t know how we were going to utilize this time. We could have cleaned out more of the garage but after sorting and posting over 100 books, DVDs, CDs and video games on Half.com we weren’t feeling super motivated. Instead we wanted to do something fun and opted to check out the Denver Zoo. It costs the same as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo but I think you get a lot more for your money in Denver. However, if you want to get up close and personal with some giraffes- Cheyenne Moutain Zoo is the place to go.

me and giraffe

The Denver Zoo is about an hour and a half from where we live and while it was cloudy and overcast in the Springs we figured we would be okay in our flip flops and short sleeve shirts when we hit Denver- we were wrong… It started to rain when we reached our friend Bob’s house for lunch. We noticed the cold and wind as we walked into Target to purchase “a frozen vegetable of our choice” which would be our contribution to lunch. Our first instinct was to just buy the cheapest long sleeve sweatshirt or jacket we could find for J. (despite the fact that I was sporting flip flops I had grabbed a jacket before we left home).

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This was the first time that we were about to impulse buy something in over six months and I really had a problem with doing it. I knew that J. needed a jacket or the day would be miserable but I couldn’t stomach purchasing something that he would never wear again and would eventually get donated to Goodwill. Instead I wanted to find something that he otherwise needed and could be used again and again- oh and I wanted it at a good price because I’ve been getting great deals on Ebay lately. I have to admit that we totally lucked out in finding a $50 wind jacket perfect for biking in for only $13 on the clearance rack. J. doesn’t have a biking jacket and with the capricious weather in Colorado it’s an almost necessary investment (especially since we travel by bike as much as possible).

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We were in and out of the store in less then 20 minutes and I only got distracted twice (once by the cutest yellow polka dot converse sneakers and the second time by a nice springy dress) but didn’t purchase anything other then the jacket and frozen corn. As we drove away J. looked at me and said something to the effect of “this is so the American way.” I asked him to explain and he said it’s just so American to find yourself uncomfortable (due to a lack of planning in this case) and just run into the nearest store and purchase what you “need.” I resented that remark personally because I had made sure we hadn’t just grabbed whatever but I also resent that being called the “American way.” People all over the world have the selfish mentality that they should get whatever they want, right now and dam the consequences to the environment, the animals we have pushed to the edge and beyond of extinction, and even other people. I concede that Americans should take our fair share of the blame but it isn’t ours alone and the US alone cannot fix the world’s problems. We all have to work together to fix what we have wrought.

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So how did we do our part that day? Well J. did get a new jacket but I borrowed a pair of sneakers from Bob. Instead of eating out or ingesting a liter of flavored corn syrup we shared a homemade meal with a couple of friends. And while I don’t really agree with the concept of zoos I hope that our entrance fees help pay for larger habitats that they sorely need.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2008 1:51 pm

    “The American Way” is quite global, even though I think we could easily take credit for perfecting the disastrous disposable lifestyle habits so many people around the world strive for.

  2. May 28, 2008 2:03 pm

    You’re right. It’s not the american way, I confess doing ‘no-plan-purchases’ sometimes myself. However, if you want to imunise yourselves from impulse buying I suggest pacing IKEA once or twice a month. Sooner or later you’ll grow tired of buying cheap things that _may_ be necessary. I’ve tried it.

    If you ever have a chance to go to Germany I think you should vist Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg (http://www.hagenbeck-tierpark.de/index.php?id=553&L=1). The zoo is the first to be built around the behaviour of the animals instead of the ‘need’ for caging them in. Some animals run around free inside the park, others are separated from the spectators by moats, and the scenery and closures are built to match the animals’ behaviours as close as possible. No, I haven’t been there, but I dearly want to visit some day.

  3. innercitygarden permalink
    May 28, 2008 8:59 pm

    I hope it doesn’t have to be ‘the American way’. I agree that the problems are not confined to the US, and the US alone can’t solve them, but it is true that the US has a very large population consuming at a greater rate than any other population. The US government has also been the most resistant first world government to acknowledging climate change and doing something about it. My own countrymen in Australia have probably come second. We burn brown coal with great enthusiasm. We did recently sign Kyoto after a change of government, but our new leaders don’t seem any more committed to dealing with the problems than the old ones.

    America can’t fix global problems all by itself, but at the moment as a nation (there are certainly lots of individuals making an effort, but public policy would make a huge difference) Americans aren’t really contributing at all.

  4. Bob permalink
    May 28, 2008 11:27 pm

    Ha! I got mentioned in your blog. 🙂 I get my shoes back on the 7th, right? Cause I think I’ll be wearing them up to Pikes Peak. As for buying J. a jacket, we would have shared one of L’s jackets. And, I have a couple of sweatshirts.

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