I was raised understanding that managing resources was a matter of course. In our household of three, the resources available to us was limited. With $82.50 each month coming in from "child support", my value as well as that of my sister were set, by the court. $41.25 each, to be exact. In 1968 dollars, it may have been a fair amount, but I remember rent being one hundred and usually the phone bill was another hundred, so the way I looked at it, the house we lived in and the communications device hanging on the wall were both "valued" twice as much as I was. Trying to assign value to resources when your life is worth less than a telephone can be tough, but for me it was enlightening.
It is our use characteristic that determines true worth and value, not anything intrinsic in what we use. For example, If I had a years supply of gasoline, stored in my garage, I might not think twice about driving more, because I would be insulated from the price shock of having to buy more, at least for a while. This is similar to the way that industrialists discount the value of clean air and water when they choose to pollute. If they can be assured that someone else will pay, they can dump whatever they want wherever they want. If they were to be threatened by the stench or effluent, they can afford to move further away, where it is still nice. Many who live on the lower end of the income spectrum know the real truth behind the concept of robbing Peter to pay Paul, because we live with a complex of competing needs and have little wealth (resources) to throw at them. In this respect, my poverty stricken youth taught me very well how to conserve resources.
To this day, I feel wealthy when I have a new shirt or a new pair of shoes, even if they come from the second-hand shop. I know the difference between an investment and frivolity.
My work through ECO-Tours has cost but several thousand dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of labor have also flowed through our organization, but each one of them was given freely by people who wished to make the world around them a little better. There are those who seek to put a price on carbon sequestration, flood control, climate stabilization or aesthetic values. Those who donate both cash and hours to our cause care little about the "value" of these things in dollars, they only know that the world is better off when we contribute to it, rather than stripping the landscape and Mother Earth of her trees, or turn babbling brooks to ditches.
The time has come to ask "What can I do to sustain life into the future?" Managing our own resources as if the Earth and her people mattered. We have certainly lost the class war, do we really need to be reminded of where the oligarchs are headed? Following their schemes has only one result, more pollution, poverty, pain, dislocation and sickness. When we realize that their game will forever leave us with less, we can finally get down to the business of taking back what rightfully belongs to us. Perhaps first and foremost of the resources they like to capitalize upon is our time. Spending that single resource carefully has the power to transform society, the economy, the planet itself and to make the future liveable.