I'd like to make a post out of a few very good comments to my discussion of frugality as a means of nonviolent resistance. Thanks to Aimee and CZBZ for your input.
Aimee's recommended ways to be subversive in modern America:
Maximize your food independence. For some of us, that means growing a
lot of food or raising animals. For others, it means learning how to
cook from scratch. If you are buying raw materials from your local
farmers at the farmer's market, you maximize support of your individual
neighbors and minimize your support of the giant agribusiness companies.
You also save money and eat better.
2) Buy secondhand.
Everything you possibly can. In this way you avoid encouraging the
extraction of raw materials and extend the useful life of products. The
embedded energy cost in, say, a new car or a new set of dining room
furniture - even a new winter coat! - can be stretched over a greater
time period and made to serve a greater number of people. For me, buying
secondhand clothing is an ethical decision to avoid supporting the
sweatshop industry. A subclause to this recommendation is: repair things
that can be repaired. Get your fridge fixed a few times before you get a
new one. Learn to mend clothes. When was the last time you saw a kid
wearing jeans with knee-patches on them, unless they were sold that way
to begin with? Take good care of your car. Do all the scheduled
maintenance. Learn to do it yourself! Or ask your neighbor.
Maximize your energy independence. There are so many ways to do this -
we brew biodiesel for our cars. But you might do it with solar panels or
windmills, depending on where you live. Or do it by not owning a car
and biking instead. Or by living in a smaller house and
super-insulating. The sky's the limit.
4) Know your neighbors.
Make friends. Develop mutually beneficial networks. Support each other.
Lend your tools. Pool your resources. Why should every small-farming
family along the same stretch of road own its own haying equipment, for
example? That's absurd. Or its own tractor, even? Why shouldn't three or
four families get together to buy one tractor instead of four? Does
every household really need a chainsaw? No, not if you are on good terms
with Bob down the way. And not if you are willing to lend his wife your
5) Most important of all: take charge of your
education! Be informed! Get your information from diverse sources. Use
your brain. Teach your kids. Go to museums and libraries while they
still exist! Buy books (secondhand, of course!). Do not default on your
obligation to educate your children, or yourself. It's too important.
You can't leave it to the public school system alone. Talk about
important issues with your spouse, your neighbor, your kids, your
in-laws, your city councilman, your state senator!
6) For the love of God, VOTE!
1) Join families under one roof. This challenges communal skills and
nourishes spiritual growth. Save landfills by purchasing one washing
machine for four adults. My sister and her son moved in with me and now
my adult daughter lives with me. That would be four washing machines
(dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.) if we lived apart.
2) Find a
church and fill your inner void with something meaningful rather than
zombie shopping, what my daughter calls "retail therapy". Each of us has
shopped-til-we-dropped and that's why we know how 'empty' it is---like
3) Buy second-hand furniture or better yet, learn
to build it yourself. Self-esteem grows as carpentry skills increase and
there's nothing as wonderful as knowing your nephew almost cut his
finger off making a bookcase for your second-hand books.
love cooking from scratch (make my own yogurt and have saved thousands
of plastic containers from the landfill). However, I don't judge people
who lack the time to cook from scratch...it is very time-consuming but
gives me a sense of purpose now that I'm old. (grin) And nothing brings
community together quite like having a good cook in the family.
Save all the bones and table scraps for day-long boiled broth but don't
tell your guests that you were gnawing on the chicken a few days ago.
6) Learn to be thankful.
And here's an additional contribution of my own: a link to an article in Sojourners Magazine on the virtue of buying used (when you have to buy at all). Also, if anyone wants to add to these lists, feel free to leave me a comment.
Have a good week!