I was raised in a small church that has a reputation for being extremely freewheeling, very “believe whatever you want.” And in many ways, that’s accurate. However, in my experience, they actually offer very strong guidance on how to live; if you need advice on consumer behaviors that will fit bourgeois bohemians’ cultural norms, they can definitely give you a fair trade catalog or two. That advice, taken to its logical conclusion, has left my generation low-key terrified about the planet, the economy, etc., and willing to make great sacrifices to try to improve our future.
For example, my friend Will. Will is a Yale-educated descendant of Russian intellectuals, who, when we met, was *really* trying to walk lightly upon the earth. He practiced extreme frugality, which let him retain financial solvency while he worked as a community organizer and built his career in nonprofit. He showed up at church every week in one of the two sweaters he owned, which drove my girlfriend insane. “I want to buy that guy a sweater,” she said. “Does he not know about stores? What is with the two-sweater lifestyle? When does he wash them? You have weird friends.” But to me it made perfect sense that a person with all the privilege in the world would deliberately choose to opt out of capitalism as much as possible; to decline to buy garments made by slaves out of crops raised by slaves in ecologically unsound farms, to save his resources for making a difference.
I talked to Will about his no-shop lifestyle, and he said, “Well, hmm. I guess, if I want to buy something new, something that isn’t food or soap or whatever, first I wait a week and see if I still want it. And then if I do, I wait another week, and if I still want it, then maybe I buy it.”
This sort of attitude is difficult to pull off, especially if you’re just getting started in life; Will lived with his parents, so he didn’t need to buy measuring spoons or towels or a Crock-Pot. But for me now at midlife, with a house full of thrifted clothing and housewares and furniture and art supplies, honestly, there is very little that I need to buy, especially new. So I made myself this printable shopping list, to help me be mindful of Will’s practice. If you need help resizing it for whatever planner you use, here is some advice.
I’m sharing this now because a few of my friends were talking about budgets, and I thought it would be relevant. But I’m also working on a printable of Krista’s Famous Comparison Shopping Method, and also of What Shopping Does For You, so stay tuned if you want to see more printables about ethical consumption and mindful budgeting!