What is normal?
My last post I said that advertising has had a normative effect on our aspirations, in that they have made our aspirations very similar. And that similar aspiration has been focused on house and home. Home ownership is the American dream and not just any home, but these days a big home. In fact if you have a small home people wonder about your success, because all around us we have large homes. The statistics bear this out, "according to the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Census Bureau, the average new home size has climbed from 2,080 square feet in 1990 to 2,324 square feet in 2001" And doing a quick search, the Boston Globe reports that in Wellsley homes of 4000 sq. ft. are now the norm. Now not everyone can live in Wellsley, Massachusetts but people would like large homes since they feel that's normal, and they buy where they can, usually far away but "accessible" via car.
Once they get there they realize the following:
1) more rooms means more furniture (more forests logged to furnish homes)
2) more rooms means more volume, which means more heating bills (more CO2 emissions)
3) more space, can only be built further away so that means more driving (more CO2 emissions)
4) more rooms means more carpet, which means more vacuuming.
You get the picture, having a big home and leaving all other parameters open means that you consume more not just in the house but in everything else.
So who made McMansions normal. It's our aspirations.
Aspire differently, and with less pollution we'll probably respire differently too.