When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know. So friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world… Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?excerpts from Wendell Berry’s poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”
The ode to personal responsibility in the sphere of sustainable living, environmental stewardship, creation care, or what have you, can be overstated. The impact of corporations, manufacturing standards, transportation, disposal and energy requirements and more are above my pay grade and I try to temper my individual green commitments (which easily run into guilt and overwhelm) with this knowledge. I liken it to being a fan at a game: while I am involved, invested, and do have some purpose in being in the arena, the main players causing the most impact on our climate are on the field. I elect them. I support them with my business and my banking. And my forgetting to bring a reusable straw is not on the same plane as their hazardous waste disposal plan.
That being said, there are things we are slowly and barely working away from to exercise our own agency. Perhaps if you’ve lived in another country, you too can remember that cool feel of a decade-old glass soda bottle on your lips–a refreshing and old system that avoids plastic. Perhaps watching a movie or TV show set in a historical pre-plastic time heightens your awareness of how embedded we’ve become with the constant non-biodegradable waste. Perhaps just a walk around the block, NASA’s most recent update about climate change, or that article from The Guardian exposing that there is no meaningful plastic recycling have raised a little flag of alarm in your mind too. Perhaps simply and importantly, budget constraints have curtailed the buying of new things, of “convenient” packaging, or multiple types of products. Perhaps a new grandchild or your social ethic moves you to examine daily choices in the interest of future generations, especially those of the communities of color most affected by environmental destruction.
Discovering a package-free grocery store has been an exciting and celebrated addition to my shopping and options in central Los Angeles. The people at Tare were so helpful in understanding their philosophy, sources of bulk goods, and process for dispensing goods to customers without packaging. I was pleasantly surprised with how many products they offered, how customizable the quantity is for my pocketbook and inexperience, and how safe and Covid-19 friendly it was as a business given my line of work. It was a new experience for me. If you’re like me, when you discover a new business in Los Angeles, you wonder about the line, the parking, the ecological impact, the accessibility to socioeconomic differences and on and on. I found Tare to be a positive experience on all fronts.
I’ve tried to make changes for our household throughout the years. These are incremental changes that ebb and flow. For example, while shopping for home goods and clothing from thrift stores has been a conscientious choice for many years, during this pandemic, that has changed. I’ve purchased some new things the past several months to keep my wardrobe for work chugging along (I work at a hospital as a chaplain, donning professional wear, and wash my clothes daily due to Covid-19). I’ve spend more money than I was used to from thrifting on used clothes due to shipping costs on platforms like Poshmark. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve negotiated so much.
The need to buy consumables like shampoo and lentils hasn’t changed the past year, except that my growing concern about plastic usage adds to the pressure to make as few trips to as few stores as possible. I typically buy things in bulk at Costco for both economic and convenience reasons with three growing boys in the house. Even still, there’s a steady flow of plastics that go wishfully in the recycling bin. Tare helps reduce that flow through accepting my unsightly assortment of washed plastic and glass containers and helping me find spices, raw goods, toiletry items, and more. The chaplain in me finds spiritual significance in the discipline of washing something to be reused, talking with someone while your shop, and carefully deciding how much you need of something.
As a “high five” to you if you’re in the area and the arena of taking steps of stewardship and conscientious consumerism, I am sending one lucky winner a $25 giftcard to Tare. I know it’s something to go to a new place, or try a new thing. It’s something to try to adopt new practices in order to be a better co-inhabitant of this planet–things that don’t bury you alive, are within your range of cost and time resources, and also don’t let you off the hook. Enter the drawing by sharing this and commenting below. (People can also enter my commenting, following and sharing on Instagram.) A winner will be chosen at random January 27th at 7pm. I’d love to hear of places and changes you’ve made to help inform this journey. Our lives are full of abundance and we belong to each other.