When we went to Colorado, my friend Kara graciously agreed to stay at our house. As I was typing up a list of things for her to know, I realized just how granola we’ve become. That list included little gems such as:
– The liquid dish soap is homemade. You have to shake it or it gets gunked up and explodes all over your face. (I’ll post my recipe later but this one is a close second.)
– In lieu of paper towels, we have reusable, cloth towels. They’re adorable. You can use the homemade cleaner spray in the Windex spray bottle. Please don’t throw the towel away when you’re finished. It goes in the washer, thankyouverymuch. (Got these on etsy. Several stores offer them. I wouldn’t recommend the place where I got mine from because it took 10 weeks and contesting the purchase with etsy before they actually arrived. Just search “reusable paper towel”. We cut a piece of PVC pipe and used that to put them on our paper towel holder.)
– The porcelain trashcan-shaped ice bucket on the counter is for food scraps because we compost now. Once it starts to get full, you can walk it out to the wooden shipping container that we bought off Craigslist for $20 and dump it in there. In case you didn’t hear, we got it off Craigslist for $20. I’m counting that as one of my greatest accomplishments for 2013. (The countertop compost container came into my possession after six months of searching at thrift stores. I actually came across them twice but the first one had a piece chipped off. I also would have bought a cute ice bucket. (PS- They also have them new at World Market.))
– Our cherry tomato plants are going nuts. Please eat them or the squirrels will. (Our heirloom (non-GMO) seeds came from this place.)
-Recycling bin is in the pantry. If it’s recyclable, we do it, sister. (We bought our recycle bins at Ikea about 25 years ago and I don’t know that they’re still available. But they have lids, so they can go outside, which was great when we were limited on interior space.)
– Sorry about the shampoo in the bathroom. It’s fair trade and has no junk in it but it might give you a cowlick too. (We use African Black Soap from Sprouts. Love it!)
Alex and I have made these changes slowly but when I list them in a Word document for someone who is coming to stay in our house, I get a little self-conscious about asking others to do it.
I’m reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker again this summer with some friends from church. We’ve added in these “challenges” that we do and this past week was “go green”. I found it incredibly easy because of the things that we’ve already implemented.
At our book discussion on Sunday morning, we were talking about some of the responses that we’ve gotten to doing some of the things that Jen does in 7. Most of it is positive, but there’s a large group of people that scoff and dismiss it as “hippie” or “liberal”.
In college, I almost minored in Middle Eastern history. There was a history professor who was awesome and I took all his classes. Personally, I find the history of that region to be fascinating. One of the classes I took was on the Modern Muslim world and we read works by current Muslim scholars and writers.
One of the sections of the class was on modernization and the fight amongst Muslims about how much is too much. Fundamentalist Muslims make the argument that because there are certain values associated with “the West”, like philanthropy or compassion, that Muslims should reject those “westernized” values.
Cut to a few years ago. On a road trip, Alex and I were listening to Rush Limbaugh. (Before you get your panties in a wad, let me explain why. I like to listen to Limbaugh because I’ve never been around someone who likes to pontificate so much. Say what you will about Limbaugh, but he might lead the world on pontification. I listen to Rush Limbaugh for the entertainment factor; because he’s so over-the-top. )
Rush was talking about the liberals (shocker) and their obvious concern for the environment. He said, “I have a 34,000 square foot house and I leave all my light bulbs on just to stick it to those dirty liberals.”
Story #1 isn’t over yet. One of the authors that we read in class argued that these fundamentalist Muslims were holding themselves back because they couldn’t comprehend that “the West” didn’t have a monopoly on positive virtues like altruism or volunteerism. He argued that fundamentalist Muslims are missing out on good things all because they’ve mistakenly associated neutral things with “the other”.
The same could be said about Mr. L. Rushbaugh, Pontificator of the Universe.
It just doesn’t make sense to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Jen Hatmaker quoted Wendell Berry in her chapter on reducing waste.
The ecological teaching of the Bible is simply inescapable: God made the world because He wanted it made. He thinks the world is good, and He loves it. It is His world; He has never relinquished title to it. And He has never revoked the conditions, bearing on His gift to us of the use of it, that oblige us to take excellent care of it. If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or justified in destroying it?
Ouchie. Thanks, Wendell, for the slap on the face.
Instead of care of the Earth being something that divides conservative Christians from “hippie liberals”, why can’t it be something that everyone actually agrees on? It’s not logical to discard care for the Earth because someone you disagree with politically also cares for the Earth. You love the things that your loved ones love. If you love God, you’ll love what He loves. Caring for the Earth should be one thing that we can all agree on.
At the book club, we were talking about the unintended benefits of all of these changes I’ve been making. I realized that it’s really helped me slow down and be more appreciative. As weird as it seems, these changes have literally helped me slow down and “smell the roses”.
When I have to take 10 minutes to make my dish soap instead of throwing a new bottle in my cart at Kroger, it actually makes me have a greater appreciation for life.
“This dish soap? I made this dish soap. There’s a story behind this dish soap.”
As an American, I’ve been raised in a culture that consumes like Cookie Monster.
Me want resources.
Me want crappy food for cheap.
Me want things with lots of packaging.
Me want things right this second.
Me want to throw things away easily without feeling guilty.
We’re raised to consume without thinking. We just shovel it in and then turn around and shovel it out. People who “think” about their consumption are labeled as “weird” or “high maintenance” but I can’t help but wonder how Jesus would consume. For some reason, I get the sense that He wouldn’t think it was okay to buy and trash without thinking about the consequences.
For Christians, caring about the earth shouldn’t be a political issue but a spiritual one. I’ve seen movement in the Church towards environmentalism and I earnestly hope that we continue in that direction.
In the meantime, Alex and I will be showing housesitters how we churn our own butter and knit our own clothes.