I recently read a book at the prompting of my pastor’s wife—Year of Plenty by Craig Goodwin. This book was a good read, but it did more than entertain me. It started me thinking about the things I purchase, how I purchase them, and why. I suppose that’s the mark of a good book! When it causes you to consider your habits.
The book describes the story of one family’s journey to change their consumer habits. They vow to follow 4 rules for a year—buy used, buy local, use homegrown, use homemade. Those 4 simple rules change their lives and their perspective on how to be the hands and feet of Christ in their local community.
As I was reading, it occurred to me that what Craig Goodwin was describing, when he wrote this book, was the Amish lifestyle. Buy used? Sure they do. Support local businesses? Yes. In many instances they ARE the local businesses. Homegrown? Yes, if you’ve seen an Amish garden, you know that they go for homegrown in a big way. Homemade? Absolutely—from clothing to quilts.
I’m not quite ready to commit myself to those 4 rules for a year, but I am eager to put the ideas into practice. Here are 6 things I’ve done, to change the way I purchase:
- Purchase local whenever possible. This means using the local hardware store instead of the big national chain. We also are now purchasing our meat from the local butcher rather than our larger grocery store.
- Carry cloth bags. You know I bought a couple of those bags years ago—and never used them. Now, I’m determined to limit how many plastic bags I personally add to the landfill. I still use plastic for meat, but for everything else, I use my cloth bags. If I forget the bags, I limit myself to what I can carry out in my hands – for instance a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs.
- I’ve also severely limited how much I use plastic baggies. I had a set of canning jars (I’ve never canned), and I fill them up instead. When I purchase granola, I dump it into a jar instead of a Ziploc baggy. When I have leftovers to go in the freezer, they go in Tupperware rather than a freezer bag. The plastic bags I do use, I REUSE when I walk my puppy (if you know what I mean).
- I’ve stopped purchasing single serving packages. I was the queen of single serving, perhaps because I was a teacher for so many years. After I stopped teaching, I told myself I still NEEDED them because they come in convenient 100 calorie packaging. But think of all the trash I’m adding to my local landfill! Not to mention they’re more expensive. Now I purchase the larger package and count out the calories I should eat.
- We’ve started ordering our produce from Bountiful Baskets which supports small farms and attempts to purchase local when possible.
- I am planning a spring garden. In the past, I haven’t been very committed to my garden, and it usually dies within the first month. This year, I’m determined that I can grow some of my own produce. Like the story I wrote for An Amish Garden, I understand that this is good for my family—not only for what we eat but also for the time we’ll spend together caring for the plants.
Pretty simple steps, really. Sometimes it’s a tiny bit inconvenient (my local hardware store is not open 24 hours a day like the big discount store). But the SIMPLE life isn’t always the EASY life – and that’s something I’m learning day by day.