Detour From Beer: The Complexity of Living "Light."

Rick Sellers, part of the crew at Pacific Brew News, has a blog entry worth reading this morning. (Okay, they're always worth reading, but this particular one grabbed my attention.) You can read his entry here.

The issue he raises has larger implications for daily life as we figure out how to scale back our expectations (and our gas consumption).

If I stop going to restaurants, for example, I save money and gasoline. That's good for the environment and for my bank account. But it hurts the people who own restaurants here in town, many of whom I've become friends with over the years. It hurts their employees too, and not just because they earn less money in tips. If everyone stays home to eat, restaurant owners will have to lay off some of their employees.

The same dilemma holds true for shopping, going on vacations, reading newspapers, etc.

Let's look at clothing, for example. Sales are up at consignment and "used" clothing stores because shoppers are buying used rather than new clothing. They're trying to save money and live environmentally by "recycling."

But -- if we all do that, what happens to the people who work in the clothing industry and in department stores? Yes, many of clothes we wear are made in China or Viet Nam and people there are already feeling the crunch. Factories are closing; people are losing their jobs.

If we practice environmentalism by growing and canning our own food, what happens to the people who work for food producers, from the migrant workers out in the fields to the people operating the canning lines at Hunt's and Del Monte?

I'm not really going anywhere with this, except to point out, as Rick did, that living an ecologically correct life and trying to save money (yes, those are two different things) have implications that ripple out into the world around us.

Some decisions are easier, thank god: I don't see a downside to drinking local beer. That keeps owners and workers at local breweries busy and helps all of us reduce our carbon footprint (because the beer doesn't travel as far). But -- most daily decisions aren't so cut-and-dried. Something to ponder while you sip that next (local) beer.