To those of you who have jumped on this journey with me, thank you. But you might be wondering how we got here. It all starts back when I was a little girl, singing “Recycle Rap” with Mrs. Marshall in my elementary school music classroom. Who remembers that song?
Recycle, recycle, recycle now.
There’s nothin’ to it if you just know how.
So tell your mama, and your daddy, and your sister, too.
Recycling is the thing to do!
Well, maybe I didn’t know then that I would someday be writing this blog, but I DID grow up as a child of the eighties/nineties, when phrases like “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” became part of the cultural vernacular. Captain Planet was one of my favorite shows on Saturday mornings.
Earth! Water! Wind! Fire! Heart!
Then I grew up, started making money, and discovered the fun of buying things. And buy things, I did! Shopping became one of my favorite hobbies in college. Thanks to my mom’s amazing deal-finding powers (which I inherited), I became skilled at finding sales and discounts. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit her good discernment about whether or not I actually needed the items that were “such a great deal!” I accumulated so much STUFF, most of which I didn’t even use more than once or twice.
My life was heavy, weighed down by debt and all of the junk I owned.
Slowly, over time, I grew up and learned to control that desire to spend. I learned to live a little more simply. But I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
It all came to a head on my 34th birthday. I had just read Seven by Jen Hatmaker, a book whose subtitle describes what I was feeling: “An experimental mutiny against excess.” In it, she looks at seven areas of her life where she saw excess, and drastically cut those areas for a month. It challenged me and pushed me in really good ways, and I knew I wanted to change.
So, for a year I decided not to buy anything new.
Ok, that’s not exactly true. I still bought food, payed my bills, bought things my kids needed, etc. But for myself, I tried not to purchase anything NEW. I tried to stop buying anything at all. If I actually needed something, then I would try first to buy things second hand, then if impossible or gross (no second hand socks or underwear for me, please!), I would seek out a BETTER way to spend my money.
Ethical brands that care for the earth and the people creating their products were something I was sort of aware of, but finding an ethical underwear company takes on a new urgency when you’ve made this kind of deal with yourself. (I found one and it’s awesome! I’ll share more in an upcoming post.)
It was a great year. I learned about great companies making beautiful products, and more importantly I learned about myself. It wasn’t always easy, but I felt stronger and smarter and like I was doing something important. I was saving the world, Captain Planet style, simply by refusing to participate in the consumption cycle that our culture has us stuck in.
So here I am, past my 35th birthday now, and still trying to buy less and buy better. And finding the truth behind these words of Jesus, who I believe is encouraging us on this adventure:
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:30 MSG)
Let’s live lightly, friends.