So the two big taboos of faith and money have been much in my mind lately. I know I'm not supposed to talk about them publicly, but I'm not sure how to talk about a whole bunch of other things without talking about them. I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Practicing Our Faith." One of the authors writes about faith and relationships in terms of money. The Christian commandments to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors is for many a commandment to be "in right relationship" with all people (and even beyond people to all of God's creation). Money is at the center of many of our relationships, both with other people and with nature. How we choose to make, spend, donate, and invest money can be seen as how we choose to be in relationship with other people and with God's creation as a whole.
So this year, I am going to try to be more conscious of how I buy stuff. My hope is first to buy only when necessary. This allows me to donate more and spend more on organic and locally produced food. It keeps me from cluttering my house and eventually a landfill with stuff I didn't need in the first place. Second, I am going to try to buy used. Buying used cuts down signifcantly on the environmental cost of buying stuff, and it keeps stuff out of landfills for at least a little longer. Third, I am going to try to buy locally, American-made, and fair trade goods when I do need something and can't get it used. Through this I can support my neighbors near and far.
This isn't a set of rules, but a set of guidelines I've set for myself. I expect to question them and possibly change them as I see how they play out in everyday life. Already I've found myself in situations where once upon a time, my reaction would have been "well I'll just order a __________." I also realize that consuming this way is going to take more time and research, which I will have to balance with the other ways I choose to spend my time. For example do I run all over creation searching for a locally made version of something that I could just order quickly from Amazon for much less? At times the answer may be "just order it", but I'm hoping that at least some of the time the answer will be either yes, it's worth the trip, or no, I actually don't need that at all. We'll see.