Thursday, July 21, 2011

Responsible Consumerism on a Realistic Budget?

Don't forget about the Sseko sandal give away.  I know I've mentioned that there are a ton of different ways to style Sseko sandals, but I also wanted to add that Sseko gives you videos to watch online with step-by-step instructions for getting the style and look you love.  You can check out the videos here.  The one above is for the adorable braided beauty I'm sporting these days. 

Want another chance to enter the Sseko give away?  Simply go "like" Sseko sandals on facebook and then report back to us in the comment section of the give away that you became a Sseko fan.  Don't comment on this post.  All entries need to be logged here.  You have until Monday to enter!  Thanks for spreading the word about this fabulous company and these high-quality, adorable shoes.

Many of you have bought The Better World Shopping Guide and are truly trying to work through your personal spending habits and consider the people who make the products you purchase.  It can be overwhelming.  At first glance, choosing to buy products from companies who are striving to give a dang about their employees, the environment, and doing business on the up and up may seem incredibly expensive.  It will cost more.  Maybe buying the things we buy should have always cost us more.  Perhaps we've just gotten used to being able to buy things for cheap while someone else across the globe pays the rest of our bill?  But what's a family to do?  Sell a kidney or two?  How do we afford to make these sort of changes in the way we shop? 

I asked my friend Mandi to write a post about how to make these adjustments on a budget.  Mandi is one of the most joyful, precious, lover-of life kind of people I have ever met.  Be encouraged by her story!


{{Guest Post by Mandi}}
Mandi blogs here at herban homestead.  
Check her out.

photo taken by our talented friend, Ryan Price

I am so thrilled that Heather has asked me to write a guest post about making the socially responsible products we use in our home and on our bodies affordable. I know that so many of us want to do the right thing, but we struggle to find room in our budgets to make that happen.

If youʼve checked out the “better world shopper” guide, you have seen brands mentioned like Dr. Bronnerʼs, Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly, and maybe even the clothing line Maggieʼs Organics. Youʼve probably noticed that trying to buy these items in the grocery store could easily double your grocery budget. Iʼm here to tell you that doesnʼt have to be the case!

I started buying naturally made cleaners and body items for my family about ten years ago. I was green when green was uncool, yʼall! I made this plunge initially for my familyʼs health and for the health of our planet. Imagine my delight when I realized that these brands were socially responsible as well! However, we were (and still are) on a youth pastorʼs salary. It was not easy to make these purchases a reality, but we were confident that they were the right choices for us. So I sought out ways to make them work.

I spent lots of time in prayer over this. Seriously! I was praying for wisdom over laundry detergent! I knew that God wanted us to be healthy and more socially responsible through the products we were buying, so I knew that He would guide us in the direction He wanted us to go. He laid out a doozy of a first step: sacrifice. I already knew that shopping the way He wanted me to was not going to work in our current financial situation. I also knew that my husband was not going to change career fields in order to increase our grocery budget. No, the work had to be done in our hearts. We were to sacrifice in other areas to make obedience a reality. So what did we do? We cut our cable. We drove cars that were paid for. We cut our eating out. And then the big one came- we sold our house.

After revealing His plans for our lives in the areas of health and simplicity, God directed us to sell our home and give away most of our possessions. We moved into the 600 square foot guest home of some of our dearest friends. We paid them a nominal amount of rent and soaked in the quiet of the forest we were living in. In that quiet God was gently revealing to us areas of our lives that needed to be scrubbed clean. We needed to learn the lesson of sacrifice, of self-denial. And guess what? Buying socially and environmentally friendly items was no longer difficult! We were able to shift our priorities to make these things a viable option for us!

After living in the woods for about a year, it was time for us to put our new found skills of simplicity to work in the real world! We are now living in a small town, in a house we own, and we are still on that youth pastorʼs salary (our take home pay is right around $40,000). We homeschool our two children, and are in the process of adopting our third. Our cars are paid for, and our mortgage on our 1500 square foot home has been paid way down. The only way we could do all of this is through that lesson from our time in the trees. Through sacrifice. We still do not have cable. We do not have fancy phones that can get the intrawebz in an instant. We buy most of our clothes and home items second hand. We donʼt eat out much. But we rarely feel the sting of sacrifice anymore. After living this way for 6 years now, it just feels like life. A life that is rich and full!

So the first step, the hardest step, is sacrifice. A lot of times in the Christian walk, doing for others must feel like sacrifice to ourselves. That is when the growth comes!

The second step is to find a buying co-op to join (or start your own!). I know what youʼre thinking! “Why didnʼt you start there, lady??? That sounds way friendlier than ʻsell all your stuff and move into a tiny house with all your kids!ʼ ” Well, I didnʼt start there simply because I didnʼt want to pass up the heart lesson and spiritual growth that is found in sacrificial living. Donʼt skip that blessing!

Now, onto that co-op. I have been running a buying club/ co-op through a company called Frontier for about five years. Through this co-op I am able to get all of my home and body care items for wholesale prices. Iʼm talking about a near savings of half off the suggested retail price.  I recently wrote a post detailing what I buy and how much I pay for each product when ordering from Frontier. Frontier is a wonderful company that not only acts as a distributor, but also sells their own line of spices, teas, and bulk herbs. They are committed to sustainable living for the farmers that they work with and for the planet.

Once a month my club members submit their orders to me out of the Frontier catalog. I input all of our information onto their site, and in less than a week I have boxes and boxes of people and environmentally friendly products in my home! I sort it all out and then my club members come and pick it up. It is so easy to do, and saves me a crazy amount of money. I canʼt imagine trying to buy these items at full price on the salary that we receive.

The third step I would recommend in making the switch to natural cleaners a reality is to make your own. It is a down right lie that we need 17 different types of cleaners to get our homes sparkly clean! Almost every cleaner in my home is made with some combination of vinegar, water and sometimes baking soda. Some people smell Pine Sol and think “clean!”. I smell vinegar and get the same happy reaction! Buying a gallon of vinegar costs me $3. The more vinegar I add to the water solution, the stronger the anti-microbial action. Want a straight up anti-bacterial cleaner? Spray straight vinegar and then spray hydrogen peroxide on top of that. Wipe up with a reusable rag and laugh your way to a cleaner potty as you are sticking it to da man!  You can even make your own laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. Itʼs easy, and it works!

So letʼs re-cap. In order to make buying goods that are healthier for you, healthier for the worker that made your product, and healthier for the planet a viable option, we must 

(1) sacrifice
(2) find (or start) a buying club/ co-op
(3) make it our own dang selves!

If you want more daily tips on living in a natural home, please check out my blog. 

Helpful Links from this post:

Other posts in this series:

Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?

Who Are the Poor?

Looking for the Poor 

Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner

Helpful Links

Barn Burning 

First, The Purging 

The Better World Shopping Guide 

More Really Great Shopping Resources 

Running Hard After Redemption 

Seeko Sandals


Jana said...

Love you Mandi!!

You will forever be known in our house as the lady who taught Colin about the fruits (You know, the fruits of the spirit song. We have all sung it but he only remembers it from you!)

Love the post!! Can I start calling you the "tree lady"?

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Thank you for this post, for sharing your and your ideas in such a beautiful way.

Andrea {FancyThat!} said...

Wow. I'm bookmarking this post! I love making rather than purchasing. But I have to actually remember to do it every time--or in bulk! Thank God for the ultimate sacrifice; surely we can manage a little ourselves.

College Essays said...

Such a stressful, but exciting time for you!! It'll all come together, hang in there!! I love all of your thoughts