After much thought, and some insight from readers I decided to put this list together. I do not attempt to do all of this perfectly, certainly there are many areas where it is hard to be as discerning. You do not have to move to the country and grow your own food to opt out of some unhealthy corporate dependencies (though this is a beautiful thing to do if you choose). And to be honest it becomes much harder to take time now that I have two small children to care for. Certainly we all have our own contradictions and there are some areas where the options are quite limited (internet providers, insurance, etc.). But we do our best to make some healthier choices for our family, and to show our children that they have power over what goes into their bodies and minds. I see the mind as no different than the body, what you put into determines and effects your mental health on a daily basis.
Simply put I want to increase the soulful, life sustaining, mind expanding stuff, and decrease or eliminate the junk food. Each of us has to draw their own lines where it feels most comfortable. I give myself permission to change and grow on the journey. Many things that once felt okay for me, no longer do and in some areas there is room for improvement. I am finding this journey to be more “self directed” in the world incredibly satisfying and soulful. Making things, clothing my children, cooking from scratch, have made my life more meaningful and rich. Taking a hard line on blogads lets me sleep well at night and makes me feel good about what I am teaching my kids. That we do have a choice.
I would love it if you have anything to add, please put it in the comments.
1. Use your purchasing power as a political statement. Shop locally, ethically and in moderation. Ask the question “What do I really need?”
While you cannot remove yourself entirely from mass culture, and for those who may not want to make their own clothing, (in some cases I still shop with Amazon when I cannot find it anywhere else), you can research companies and choose one whose ethics and practices are more mindful. Commit the time to seek out alternatives. We used a non-profit cell phone provider called Earth Tones for years, who were committed to political action in various forms and funded a variety of environmental projects. I use Etsy quite a bit for more homemade options and supplies.
2. Turn off the TV. (need I explain this one?) I will say that after I got rid of the television many years ago, my productivity soared and my imagination flourished. I read much more. I believe there is a correlation to my career beginning to do really well and my giving up TV. My brain became rewired and much less passive as a result. I still watch movies and the occasional series, but I get to choose where and how (no ads).
3. Make your own stuff as much as possible. I have begun making my own cleaning products with simple ingredients, and recently I purchased a great resource to help with all kinds of things that you can do yourself. I highly recommend the book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen (I don’t need to add that I have no connection to the authors). Having looked at many books in this category I can safely say that if you are interested in homesteading or just getting off the consumer treadmill, this book will help you do it. I am soon going to try giving up the bottle (of shampoo that is), and give some of their alternatives a try. I’ll let you know how it goes. I already gave up hair color during my second pregnancy, choosing to let my grey hairs go loose and wild!
4. Use an Ad-Blocker program for the web. While this does little to actively stop the advertising, it does cut down on the visual overload and the adcreep we experience while surfing. I use Adblock Plus, which was created by a friend of mine. It is totally free and works like a charm. I’ve used it for years and love it.
5. Move your money.
6. Support media that is ethical and ad free. I have cut down on what sites I visit regularly, choosing ones that are ad-free over ones with ads. I do value when people write about products they like if they are things that I enjoy using (in my case wool, books, environmentally friendly clothing/toys, recipes), but now they must be ad free for me to trust them. In some cases this has been a really hard choice, as some were sites that I enjoyed (a few written by friends I love). But in almost ALL cases, as the ads increased on a site, so did the feeling that the writing began to serve the advertising.
7. Participate in Collaborative Consumption, interactions and economies that involve swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting.
8. Begin to perceive value in different ways, not just in terms of money. In the book The Good Life, authors Helen and Scott Nearing felt that having cut and stacked fire-wood that they acquired themselves, was better than money in the bank. It provided more for them physically and spiritually (in the work) and also in keeping them warm throughout the season. What about looking at your skills as being of incredible value in your life? Your ability to sew, cook, knit, grow, build, etc.?
9. Ride a bike or take public transit. Obvious I know, but I had to add it.
10. Use raw materials more, packaged products less. I suppose this goes under #1 and #3.
11. Buy used.
12. Repair your old things. I recently taught myself how to darn socks and sweaters. It is incredibly satisfying. I also learned to repair wool items using needle felting, it’s like magic.
13. Change your language. Name the object, not the brand (i.e. Kleenex v.s. tissue). Words are powerful. -from Kelsi
14. Choose independent businesses over chains. Use public spaces, museums, galleries, bookshops. -from Johnny, Diana & M
15. Pay with cash. When you use debit the bank gets a fee from the vendor. When you use cash the money goes to the owner of the shop. -from Diana
16. Don’t buy bottled water (carry reusable bottles). -from Jeanette
17. Become a minimalist. Cut down on your worldly possessions. -from Anne (read :mnmlist for tips)
(I will add to this list as things come in).