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Archive for June, 2009

This is something I have been circling around for awhile, but didn’t really know how to express. Then, I came across the phase “green consumerism” and it helped me to be able to articulate something that’s been on my mind for quite some time.

I’ll preface this by saying I know I am not like most people. And I am okay with that, we each choose our own path (or is it chosen for us… oh that’s another topic in itself!) My family and I purchase very few new items. This is for a lot of reasons. We refuse to support evil cooperations who enslave and abuse children in order to make their products. Please don’t try and tell me that it’s not happening. It is. Make whatever excuses you have for buying products that aren’t “fair trade,” but when it’s said and done, disgusting things are almost certainly done to end in the result of your cheap t-shirt. (And your expensive one…)

The next reason we don’t buy new is a selfish one. It saves money.

The third, very important reason we buy used is because so much of the “stuff” we use goes to landfills. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting. So we buy perfectly good clothing, toys, shoes, books and many other items from thrift stores. And when we no longer have use for an item, we find it a home other than the landfill. Why waste the Earth’s resources like that?

Now onto the recent push for the green movement. It’s great in a lot of ways. But there is another side.

We came into the possession of an item that I think puts it all into perspective. (Hand me down from a friend) It’s a toy recycling truck that came with a child’s meal at a fast food restaurant. A piece of plastic that is meant to be forgotten, thrown away and replaced with the next toy McWendy King puts out. A RECYCLING truck. The toy seriously made me sick to look at.I hope I am not the only person who sees this irony. (It went to Goodwill, where hopefully someone is less bothered by it and it will find a home)

The Green Movement is everywhere. Happy Meals included. But buying that Happy Meal was no less wasteful than buying any other Happy Meal. Nor is buying a new organic cotton t-shirt when you don’t really need a new shirt. It still had to be produced, probably overseas and shipped to your retailer. So when you decide that you need new “green” clothes to replace your old, perfectly good clothes, you are still negatively effecting the environment. When you walk into Target and see little trinkets in the $1 section that say “Going Green” or “Save the Earth” on the front and “Made in China” on the back, you are negatively effecting the environment.

All of this going green buzz has created a new kind of consumer. The green consumer. The green consumer either wants to feel better about their need to consume, so they buy green now, or they are missing the point.

We don’t need all this stuff, people. We don’t need Green Happy Meals. In fact, we don’t need unhealthy meals with too much packaging and cheap plastic prizes at all. We don’t need 20 organic cotton t-shirts when we have a closet full of regular cotton t-shirts at home. We have forgotten what it is to need in America. I am not saying you should never buy new. But take the time to think about if you really need something before you purchase it. Food included. Just because your tropical fruit you enjoy over the winter is organic does not mean it didn’t require a lot of shipping. Local foods are the best when possible.

Buying a product just because it’s “Green” is not always the “Earth Friendly” thing to do.

I just don’t think the consumer driven lifestyle and the green lifestyle really mesh. It’s hard to let go of that “must shop” attitude. It is engrained in us all. It’s taught to us at every angle from a young age. TV, magazines, role models, school… it’s everywhere. What did President Bush tell Americans we should do after 911? Shop. What?!! It’s everywhere. And it’s not an easy attitude to lose.

And some things are good purchases. Reusable shopping bags, (better yet, make your own out of those clothes you don’t want to wear any more…but I digress) water filters, chemical free cleaning products, reusable food and water containers. If you can’t find it used, buy it new because it is the wiser choice.

So when you have to buy new, buy green. But please, don’t buy “green” products for the sake of shopping. It will only end in the landfills and cooperate pockets simultaneously filling.

I am probably going to make all sorts of people mad with this post, but please just think about it. And I am not saying I never slip and do anything I shouldn’t – because I do! It’s just a perspective to consider.

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Not quite.

There’s a lot of talk about the “Proverbs 31 Woman” in Christian circles. How we should all try to be like her. She’s like the Martha Stewart of the Bible. Only more wholesome. And without insider trading and time in prison.

I know I lack in the department of all things domestic. So I took a look at what the Bible has to say about her last night: (Proverbs 31:10-31 from The Message paraphrase)

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

That’s a lot to live up to. So I thought I’d take it one step at a time. A reoccurring theme in the passage is that she gets up early. So I thought I would give it a go. I am not a morning person by any means. But my husband has been asking it of me and I have been thinking I would love the time to myself before the kids were up… so this stuck out to me as a good place to start.

Well let me tell you, day one was not a success. Within thirty seconds of my leaving the bed, Keagan realized I was gone. (We practice the Family Bed.) I took him back to bed and told him he could be with Papa. He became hysterical. His screams woke his sister, who chimed in and soon we had a myriad of screaming voices echoing through our home. So much for up before the family.

So with screaming Eden in the sling and screaming Keagan on Nick’s lap now watching Kipper because I was bound and determined to make breakfast, I started boiling some water for quinoa. It’s something that I can make into both breakfast and lunch and that’s always good. So I start on the quinoa and Eden starts in on my breast while in the sling. Great one less screaming child. Maybe I can make this work. Keagan soon stopped screaming as well.

While rooting through the fridge for some veggies for Nick’s lunch quinoa, I bumped our only serving bowl off the counter. It tumbled to the floor into a thousand tiny sharp shards. Eden started screaming yet again at the sound of my bowl’s untimely destruction. Keagan started to scream at the sound of Eden’s screaming. I started to think the shards looked like a good tool for suicide. (kidding… please don’t call asking if I am “really okay.” haha)

Eventually, breakfast and lunch were made, the kids stopped screaming and we all got of the house on time. But my goodness. What a way to start my day.

I guess it takes some practice, luck and patience to be a “Proverbs 31 woman.” I hope she had days like this. It’s only fair, right? 🙂

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So we’re working on more decluttering.

I am oh so proud of myself. We managed to get a carload of stuff off to Goodwill this morning. I mean we didn’t go to church and I am not so proud of that (although with a sick child and recovering husband we really should stay out of public places so as not to spread our nasties) but I am proud of my carload of “stuff.”

If we work at it, we can probably get another load out there today. I want my home for living in, not for storing stuff we don’t need!

I was really torn about if I wanted to sell stuff or donate. We are donating most. It goes away more quickly and it goes to a good cause. (Isn’t my wallet a good cause? hehe) We will sell a few larger items, however.

I have this lovely vision of what my home will be like when we are all done. And I can’t wait. I can’t wait until we are not so overwhelmed by toys. I am so sick of tripping on them. I truly think Keagan will be happier playing with less. I know I will be happier cooking with less clutter in the kitchen for sure. And once the clutter is gone, I can decorate, and I am really excited for that. I am so ready to feel like I am at home. It’s been so long since I felt that way.

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We’re at our new home, trying to get unpacked. We just got the internet set up again so I can get back to blogging again.

The new place is a duplex in a great neighborhood. Not as urban as the last place and it’s surely no victorian mansion, but it’s great for us.

It’s small. Around 800 sf. Actually, I think closer to 750. But that’s okay. We have been progressively living more and more simply with each move and I like it. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably realized that we’re pretty anti-consumerism and that we have been freeing ourselves from stuff slowly over the past year. Well this little place is a push in that direction. We currently have too many belongings to fit into our home. Our closets (which by the way, are awesome for such a small space!!) are overflowing with boxes. What is even in those boxes, I can’t tell you. But I can tell you this: I am dead certain that we don’t need most of it. We haven’t touched it in two months. That means it can’t be all that important!

So I started today with what mill likely be one of the hardest parts.

I got rid of books. Lots and lots of books. And I so love to read. I also love to have books around me, and around my kids. I want them to love reading as much as I. However, we just don’t have the space. So three large boxes of books went to Half Price Books today and they paid us $37 in cash for them. Just enough for me to buy two new nursing bras. Funny how God looks out for us like that. I needed those nursing bras badly (I won’t even get started about the sad state of my old bras….) and we don’t have much extra to spend at the moment, but God always provides.

So I started with books. Considering how much I love them, I think that will make going through the rest of this “stuff” seem much easier. I am trying to let go of my sentimental attachment to things of this world and thing how much happier we will be when our home is clean and free of clutter.

I plan on doing some before and after photos, so be looking for them. 🙂

Anyone else do a major downsize/declutter? Want to share some tips?

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