30 Days
May 25, 2008, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Movies

Jake asked me to check out the first season of the television show 30 Days from the library. While I greatly enjoyed the documentary Super Size Me, for some reason, I just wasn’t overly excited to see 30 Days. I scanned the episode listing and two caught my eye: “Minimum Wage” and “Off the Grid.”

In “Minimum Wage,” Morgan and his fiancee, Alex, live on minimum wage for 30 days. They started off on one week’s minimum wage salary ($300) without any access to their credit cards or any of their previous money. By the end of the first day they found an affordable apartment in a bad neighborhood and by the end of day two, they both got minimum wage paying jobs. They quickly discovered, of course, that it was nearly impossible to survive on $5.15 an hour. A few stifling medical bills (they had no health insurance) and a visit from Morgan’s niece and nephew pushed them into the red. Yet another great demonstration of the challenges facing today’s working poor.

In “Off the Grid,” two coworkers live at Dancing Rabbit, an ecovillage in Missouri, for 30 days. They were off the grid in respect that they did not use any electricity or fossil fuels. They learned how to install solar panels, recycle their own feces, and live in a self-sustaining community. This episode really got me thinking about converting my car to run on vegetable oil and how possible it would be to get solar panels installed whenever we buy a home. Environmentally friendly and frugal? Yes, please. If a whole community can do it, then certainly a single couple can. 

While I did enjoy watching these episodes, the fact that these two concepts, living on minimum wage and living in an environmentally responsible way, are so outlandish that it made for good TV saddens me. Far too many people live on minimum wage while far too few devote their time to reducing their ecological footprint.