Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

Viridorari is on Twitter! Follow this blog with a mission to be up to date with what's new on Viridorari and the world of environmental activists @viridorari

Friday, April 12, 2013

Suggested Reading, Activism Spotlight: Living on $14,000/year

Suggested Reading
This week’s “Suggested Reading” will be a two-page article in the Rolling Stone by Bill McKibben, called “The Fossil Fuel Resistance.” You can find the article here.

Bill McKibben is an environmentalist, journalist, and author who has and continues to write extensively about global warming. He leads, an international environmental organization that raises awareness about global climate change, confronts global warming denial, and works to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere., since 2011, has been leading a major protest against the prospect of creating the Keystone XL Pipeline. If built, this pipeline would run from Canada to Texas for the purpose of transporting petroleum products, and if any spills were to occur, it has the potential to wreak monumental damage on its surrounding environments. Protests against the pipeline have already found success in delaying its approval. With hard work and perseverance, the pipeline project could be stopped completely.

 McKibben’s article, “The Fossil Fuel Resistance,” highlights the growing numbers and success of the environmental movement, or as he calls it, the Resistance (against fuel companies and the control they exert over governments). McKibben says now that 80% of Arctic sea ice has disappeared, people are finally recognizing the importance of preserving the global environment and are taking action.
Albeit a little late, we are coming out strong and have the potential to do a lot of good. However, he asserts that despite the recent success of environmentalists, we still have a long way to go. I found this quote from his article to be particularly moving:

“You're not a member of the Resistance just because you drive a Prius. You don't need to go to jail, but you do need to do more than change your light bulbs. You need to try to change the system that is raising the temperature, the sea level, the extinction rate- even raising the question of how well civilization will survive this century.”

Although driving a Prius and changing your light bulbs are certainly helpful and impactful, the point that McKibben is trying to get at, the same point I’m trying to make with Viridorari, is that in order to reverse the dismal future we have laid out for ourselves, we need to be willing to change our lifestyles, and we need to speak out. Fuel companies have the power that they do because almost the entire global human population feeds them never-ending amounts of money. As McKibben puts it, fuel companies are the 1% within the 1%. The way I see it, fuel companies have bitten the hand that feeds, and it’s time for us to retaliate.

I strongly encourage you to read McKibben’s powerful and emotive article, and I hope it inspires you to do something bigger and better in the name of the environment. I also encourage you to read up on the Keystone XL Pipeline, and do something very simple to resist it: sign up with and send a pre-written email to your representative that discourages approval of the KXL Pipeline. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s impactful. Please, share your to the article with Viridorari, either by commenting below or emailing me at

Activism Spotlight

Imagine if you were told you could only live on $14,000 a year, from this point on.  That's daunting, even for one person. Now imagine that your family of four could only live $14,000 a year.

Impossible, right? Apparently not, because that's exactly what one family of four, the Wagasky’s, are doing from their home in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Jason Wagasky, a member of the U.S. Army, completes his undergraduate studies, his family’s only source of income is annual $14,000 they receive from his G.I. Bill. Amazingly, they have almost no credit card debt, no car payment, and a nonexistent mortgage.

After reading America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, Danielle Wagasky began to think about how they could apply the book’s ideas and methods to her own family’s life. Danielle began by assessing her food expenditures, and decided that she had to stop eating out, learn how to cook, and create a $400 monthly grocery budget. She makes her own bread at home, and to forgo the costly expense of pre-packaged snacks for her kids, she makes her own granola bars and trail mixes. She takes advantage of Costco, where she can buy in bulk, and she makes good use of her freezer, where she keeps her bulk items from going bad. The family freezes about eight gallons of milk a month. Danielle joined a food co-op to save money on fresh produce, and a couple of times a month, she receives a basket of in-season produce for just $15.

The Wagasky’s keep a credit card for emergencies, but beyond that, everything is paid for in cash, including their $28,000 three bedroom household from their $30,000 savings. The left over $2,000 was used to finish the kitchen and install wood flooring throughout their home.

Amazingly, they fill up the gas tanks of their two cars once a month, and they make it last until the following month. This is partially the reason I chose to feature the Wagasky’s this week. Their incredible control over their gas expenditures goes along perfectly with this week’s “Green Challenge.” How do they manage on this slim gas budget? They combine their errands and prioritize their activities. "We know we don't get to drive and visit family often, so when we do we cherish it," Danielle wrote in an entry on her blog, Blissful and Domestic. 

Do you think your family of four or less could manage on one tank per car per month? What would you have to change to accomplish that? I’m not trying to say that everyone needs to reduce their yearly budget to $14,000. The point I’m trying to make is with self-control, perseverance, and some critical thinking, it is manageable to reduce our environmental impact, and often save substantial amounts of money at the same time. When you’re sitting down with your driving log tomorrow and considering how you could have done this past week differently, think about the Wagasky’s. Remember, Viridorari would be excited to hear about your “Green Challenge” experiences. Please let me and Viridorari’s readers know how your challenges went by commenting on a “Green Challenge” post or emailing me at

To read the complete article by Mandi Woodruff about the Wagasky family and all the efforts they make to live comfortably on $14,000 a year, go here.
To read Danielle Wagasky’s blog about her lifestyle, Blissful and Domestic, go here.

Come back tomorrow for the kick-off of Viridorari’s fifth week with a new “Green Challenge.”


No comments:

Post a Comment