Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Luxury Items

I have to say, I will be very glad to go back to my normal way of doing this project -- I feel pretty cut off from the world, in a funny way -- I still haven't talked to my gas station guy, but I hope to today on my way out to dinner... I still did use the Internet a little today -- but only to verify a few things -- not to find anything; it's still cheating, I know.

Even without the Internet, I still like to try to pull in information from different places -- so this morning's log is an experiment -- I hope it works.

First thread --
After yesterday's post, first I thought, that's great, maybe they simply don't put petroleum products into hair care products -- that sounds like a good idea and also a relief. But then I got to thinking that maybe that really does have to do with the choices I've made and the stores I shop in.

So I went to a place I never go to buy cosmetics.
Sure enough, Propylene Glycol and petrolatum are main ingredients in many brands of shampoo.

I'm going to divulge something that rather mortifies me now -- the shampoo I buy is one of the most overpriced things I indulge in. I'm actually a little relieved to find out (as I did yesterday) that this is actually a drug addiction... anyway, this is a figure I should not and normally would not tell anyone.

Okay --
Suave shampoo markets itself as an affordable alternative to salon shampoos. They use petrolium products.
Neutrogena shampoo is a Johnson & Johnson product -- they don't use petroleum products. $.91/oz.
That's 5.35 times the price of the alternative.
I use (probably this is about to change...) Bumble and Bumble shampoo -- after which my head feels totally relaxed and happy.
That's 8.35 times as much.

One way of thinking -- I can afford not to spread petroleum on my skin. I can afford to decide to use that bit less of oil, too. Health and environment and future are all interwoven in this economic decision/ luxury.

This got me to thinking about the price of doing the right thing. This is not a new question for me -- last year I stood for 2 hours in the old cemetery in Harvard Square with two Cambridge friends discussing the pros and cons of buying local. We were talking about book stores. The thing is, Amazon sells books for dollars less a book. I believe in a local economy -- that it's better for the globe -- I also have limited resources these days (my shampoo is a throw back to the days before I decided to embrace my poetry full-time). Should I say, if I can't afford to buy them locally I can't afford them?

Second thread --
It concerned me in the reading about Nigeria. They are not saying, get out. They are saying, make sure we see the reward. Of course we understand this -- at any level. People should be housed and fed and educated. Still, it's different than the conversation in Alaska -- we live off the whale; please don't kill it. There's a story I can look at when this little Internet ban is lifted -- one thing is that developing nations are asking to be subsidized for not making money by destroying the environment.

Third thread --
I pulled out a book this morning -- in my attempt to stay non computer based -- The Idiots Guide to Understanding Iraq, by Joseph Tragert. It's dated now, written in 2001 -- but it still has some interesting stuff in it.

One is a time line. Gulf Oil Company was the first US company to enter Iraqi oil fields in 1928. That's a pretty long history.

Another is that: "until recently the agricultural sector in Iraq could support the population. The combination of wartime damage to irrigation infrastructure and increased urban population means that Iraq must now import food." Remember, now -- we targeted that irrigation system on purpose.

Another aside -- the produce in the middle east is amazing. I lived briefly on a Kibbutz in Israel farming avocados. Oddly enough, I worked fixing the irrigation system. It took me a good year to eat tomatoes and avocados in the States again -- there they had more flavor and texture. Not shipped, not sprayed, not refrigerated... The way fruit should be. I'm sad to think that for Iraqis this is another casualty of war -- with all they've lost, there is something so fundamental about the experience of senses. Touch. Taste. Smell.

I'm not sure all these threads are really connected the way I'd hoped -- still they feel that way. Money, Land, Choice, Privilege.

After all of that, I kind of wish I'd done something more in tune with the holiday. If you are reading this today -- whatever your faith and circumstance -- I hope your day is warm, with a cookie, some relaxing, a little luxury and love.

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