Our Challenge

by Diane Blust

Do you ever wonder how you and your family will cope with increasing gasoline prices?  These days, with gas over $5 a gallon at some areas gas stations, many of us are making adjustments in life styles and family budgets to cope with the increased price of gasoline.  Maybe the price will go down soon, maybe not.  Fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) impact every facet of life in the United States.  Even our milk containers are petroleum based!  So, it’s not just gasoline prices, it’s food, services, healthcare, clothing, toys – prices are on the rise everywhere you look.  We’re not economists and there are many reasons prices are going up, but we cannot ignore the fact that our entire economy is permeated with oil – when the price of oil goes up, everything else goes up.  Our nation, our economy and our way of life are all built on cheap oil.  And, many people believe cheap oil is coming to an end. …

A basic look at supply and demand can explain the problem:  fossil fuels are finite resources.  Throughout the world, many people look to the United States as a role model for “the good life” – we’ve got it, they aspire to it.  But, do we have enough oil and other fossil fuels to support a US consumption level throughout the world?  We think not.  Many scientists and geologists agree we are nearing or have already reached “peak oil” – the point in time where we have extracted half the world’s petroleum reserves.  At that point, we’ve picked the low-hanging fruit and extraction becomes more difficult and more damaging to the environment (Deepwater Horizon, hydrofracking for natural gas, tar sands oil extraction, etc.).  Fossil fuels become increasingly expensive.  The “imported lifestyle” becomes increasingly expensive.  That food shipped from California or beyond:  more expensive.  Corn from the Midwest:  more expensive.  Clothes (and almost everything else) from China:  more expensive.  French wine:  alas, more expensive.  Computer chips and other parts from Taiwan:  more expensive.  And, the list goes on and on…

One partial solution is a more localized economy.  We’re not talking about total import substitution; indeed, since early man started moving around his environment, there has been trade.  But, we are talking about a more localized economy.  Did you know there are artists and artisans in Reston from whom you can buy your holiday gifts?  It may be more convenient to log on to an Internet florist site and order your flowers, but you can find local wines and local chocolates if you shop at some of our local florists.  How about locally produced toys?  We’ve got them.  We know:  almost all our electronics are produced elsewhere.  But, is there a local computer shop or home based business where you can purchase a computer assembled here?  Is there a local book store?  How about local restaurants as opposed to national chains?  Can you buy your food (or some of it) at one of our Farmers Markets?  Do we need a truly local grocery store or a co-op in Reston?……

We would like to challenge Reston residents to produce more of their own food or, at a minimum, buy more local food.   We have gotten used to walking into a supermarket and buying tomatoes in the dead of winter or strawberries or melons or anything else we want at that moment.  That convenience comes at a cost to our health and the health of our planet.  Maybe we can forgo the imported and out of season foods by making a few changes – in our expectations and our diets.  We can buy local blueberries and fruits in the summer or fall and preserve them:  drying, freezing, canning, etc.  We can grow some of our own food indoors under lights or in a south facing window – one of our members actually produced lettuces all winter long in a sun room…  If we demand local food, our nearby farmers and other producers will fill that demand.  We just have to decide to change our expectations and our habits.

We would like to challenge Reston residents to produce local energy.  If we came together as clusters and neighborhoods, we could explore things like solar co-ops or an exciting new technology based on burning the fast growing duckweed.  We’ll talk more about this technology and others in other areas of the website.

We would like to challenge Reston residents to change their shopping and procurement patterns:  use local computer repair people, find local sources for goods and services.  Keep your money in our community rather than sending it off to some distant corporate headquarters.

Browse our website and find some ideas for making Reston a more sustainable community.  We’d like to hear from you with your ideas and we’d really like for you to join us in our efforts to increase Reston’s resiliency, self-reliance and sustainability!  Please contact Sustainable Reston at info@sustainablereston.org for additional information.

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