I have been thinking a lot lately about different lifestyles: farm vs. suburbs vs. city. Cities seem to be getting bigger, suburbs appear to be holding their own and/or expanding, and really small towns and farms to me appear to be waning. I think it's a loss and a shame, as in many ways I think it's easier to be self-sufficient and help yourself in many ways during hard times in a smaller community:
1. Real estate is more affordable.
2. It's easier to help the land help you make a living by growing your own food, whether it's fruits/veggies or meat (chicken/fish/beef).
3. You are not so bombarded by "BUY BUY BUY" messages at the mall, or billboards on the road. There was a case of a third-world group of people, I think it was a type of tribe, who had been living by themselves in the rainforest for all the time they existed. An experiment was conducted where they were shown catalogs containing pretty clothes, cosmetics, and other things. They had been living a "simpler" life with strictly homemade clothes and body decorations. Once they were shown the clothes and cosmetics, they became discontent with their situation. They began to want jobs to pay for all of these new things they never knew they wanted. And so the cycle began.
I'm not saying we have to live like these people originally did. But when I look out as I do tonight, at all of the heaps of stuff by the curb on garbage night, I can't help but wonder if we've gone too far off the other side. My own mother loved her things and would collect all kinds of beautiful items. Then she'd get frustrated at how complicated it was to take care of, and lament, "Just give me ONE bowl and ONE pot and ONE spoon!"
My neighbor called me this week and told me that she and her husband were cleaning out their basement and had a lot of stuff they wanted to put out by the curb, and could they put some stuff at the end of my driveway since they had so much? Well, I don't even have my own garbage service anymore! so I had to tell her no. I share garbage service with a neighborhood friend. About a year ago I was sitting around and looking at how little garbage I as one person generate. I remarked about this to my friend, and then we compared how much we pay for garbage. We found out that I had the more expensive service.
Then a light bulb went off in my head! I proposed the idea to her of SHARING garbage service. She thought it was intriguing and we decided to try it for a quarter. I brought my garbage over to her house and put it in her can, and paid her half. That was a year ago. So far so good!
Anyway, back to the neighbor. I see the heap piling up tonight and I see lots and lots of plastic hangers that are perfectly good. Who knows what other good things are in there? Why does she not truck on over only a mile and donate this to the thrift store? Granted, we do have a lot of curbside boutique surfers...but still, how hard is it to make a trip the thrift store and get the tax deduction? That's what I do, with my own castoffs and other people's as well (I am a curbside boutique shopper!). Not only does it help keep perfectly good things in circulation, it also feeds my desire to acquire stuff down to a manageable level. There's something very satisfying for me to find something good, and give it to the thrift store. It keeps it out of my house!
There are ways of saving money that some would regard as smacking of poverty. But really, isn't some of it just being responsible with our resources? During the Depression, my grandma's sister had a job at a hatchery. She would give my grandma the "reject" chicks (missing toe, blind in one eye, etc.) and my grandma raised them to adults. She would butcher some, and can the meat. With others she would keep them for their eggs. She would shoot rabbits in the yard and can those too. So, she and my grandfather would always have meat and eggs at a time when so much in other people's lives went lacking. I have bought incredibly cheap chicken at the store and canned it myself, thanks to inspiration from my grandma. Those mini-jelly jars of chicken have come in handy more than once at the office!
I wonder how much garbage there would be if people were held accountable for what was really garbage in what they put by the curb. Between donating to the thrift store, donating to places like pregnancy centers and women's shelters, and making a compost heap, there are plenty of ways to keep the good flowing. That is just a start. What ways can you think of to "wear it or wear it out"? Be a good steward today!