As Christians, we recognize the abundance of which Jesus spoke as essential to our wholeness. Yet more often than not, we don’t experience or feel that abundance. Could it be that in seeking and attaining more things, we have actually lost something of inestimable value? A loss that comes from the misunderstanding that this abundance is essentially and primarily material; a loss that may in no small measure result from confusing our society’s ideal of the “good life” with the “abundant life.” If the good life is materialism and the pursuit of the American Dream, the abundant life is authentic wealth. If the good life is individualist and me-centered, the abundant life is characterized by the extension of compassion to all of creation.
Voluntary simplicity must call people to a broader vision — a vision that sees the connections between ecological and social decline; between environmental and social justice, between personal choices and global issues — that emerges as a prophetic, compassionate response to today’s world. Once people begin to explore simplicity as it speaks to their own concern, they often see how that concern connects to many other issues. And those in the process of modifying their own daily choices might discover the need to work for political change as well.
Many people have heard the notion of “voting with your wallet.” When we make purchasing and investment choices, we’re casting votes for the ways in which businesses operate. Whether we know it or not, as consumers we can cast our buying/investing votes for businesses and technologies that lessen negative impacts on God’s creation. We can use our buying/investing power to support businesses that work to promote social justice and ecological sustainability.
Simple Things You Can Do
- Buy items with “eco-labels” such as:
- Fair Trade Certified
- Organic Certified
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Processed Chlorine Free (PCF)
- Invest in socially responsible funds
Alternatives for Simple Living “Alternatives is a non-profit organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly. Started in 1973 as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, our focus is on encouraging celebrations that reflect conscientious ways of living.”
Financial Integrity Program/The New Road Map Foundation “The New Road Map Foundation (NRM) seeks to foster a cooperative human community in a diverse yet interconnected world by creating and disseminating practical tools and innovative approaches to personal and cultural change.” In 2007, NRM developed a guide to the core of the nine step program that can be used for both individual self-guided learning as well as in educational settings. Program adherents who wish to teach others this rewarding practice of personal economics have access to a professionally developed curriculum to do so. This suite of products is the Financial Integrity Program.
Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet “Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.”
New American Dream “New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.”
Northwest Earth Institute The Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) develops programs that motivate and educate individuals and organizations to protect the earth. Key Principles and Mission: NWEI programs encourage participants to explore their values, attitudes, and actions through discussion with other people. These programs are organized around three key principles: • An earth-centered ethic promoting individual responsibility for the earth. • The practice of engaged simplicity to enrich life and reduce personal impact on the earth. • A dedication to living fully in place and protecting the unique ecosystem in which you live.
Zerofootprint A site with great resources that can help you calculate your carbon footprint and reduce it.