Reshape, Not Restore, Our Economy

Reader Contribution by Staff

The United States is struggling to restore its economy, when it should be working to reshape or rebuild it. There’s a profound difference between the two.

Unfortunately, in our panic to revive the economy many of our congressional representatives have failed to fully realize one fundamental fact: Not all dollars are created equal.

New highways, bridges, and economic stimuli that return the economy to its former state and end up putting more people back into gas-guzzling RVs or too-large or energy-stupid homes do not hold a candle to stimuli that promote home weatherization, new wind farms and green transportation.

Let’s be fair. The economic recovery package recently passed by Congress provides funds for jobs and businesses that promote sustainability like energy retrofits, renewable energy and green transportation. But I fear that much of the rest is meant to simply restore business as usual.

As many who have responded to my first blog realize (A Smart Road to Economic Recovery), we can’t solve the problems we’ve created with the same logic that created them. So what do we do?

I urge all readers to write or call their legislators and write editorials in their local newspapers emphasizing the need to promote sustainable economic activity. What should we be promoting?

How about a solar hot water system on every home in America? How about incentives or requirements that all new homes be built to exacting energy-efficiency standards? How about incentives or laws that require solar electric modules on every government building, office building and new home? How about moving forward the deadline on which auto manufacturers are to achieve higher fuel efficiency standards?  How about laws or incentives that promote the use of green building materials, recycled products in all aspects of society, organic farming, environmental education in K-12, water conservation, and restoration of damaged waterways, farm fields and forests?

Let’s be specific.

Let’s propose a list of action items that contributes to a truly sustainable society — one that makes sense for people, the economy and the environment now and over the long term. 

And as some of you have suggested, let’s vote with our dollars, too. Let’s take steps personally to promote these activities, starting in our own homes and businesses. We can’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. We must take action individually. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Contributing editorDan Chirasis a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog,Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visitinghis websiteor finding him on.