Sometimes loving our neighbor costs a lot. It requires sacrifice. It means considering others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). But, not all ways are expensive or difficult. Several of these suggestions will actually save us money. Here are 13 of our favorite ways to Love Our Neighbors that don't cost much.
Drink water - Save $ - It is good for you, it is cheap (basically free in a lot of places). It saves on all of the processing, packaging, and flavorings. Drinks that have been made in a plant and packaged in a container that is going to be recycled or thrown out consumers resources and creates pollution. Eliminating all drinks isn't required, just think about reducing the number. Make sure to drink your water out of a reusable (not disposable!) container!
Use recycled paper items - Just a bit more $ - Consider switching to toilet paper made from recycled paper, recycled paper towels, and recycled trash bags. Seventh generation has tons of great products made from 100% recycled materials. Many other retailers have their own store brand recycled products.
Refuse one-time use items - No extra $ - Straws, lids, forks, ketchup packets, sugar packets, soda cups, chopsticks, ... Sometimes this is awkward. Sometimes this makes other people feel uncomfortable around us. Trying something new is never smooth. But, if some people don't do weird things, the weird things will never become the new norm.
Eat everything in your fridge - Save $ - Don't let food go to waste. Some friends of ours have started making vegetable broth from the veggie scraps left over form meal prep. Whatever you can do to reduce food getting thrown out is a great way to conserve resources, reduce pollution, conserve what our farmers have painstakingly grown, and love our neighbors. This is something I need to get better at.
Buy used - Save $ - Save money by buying like-new/opened packaged items. eBay has basically anything you could ever want. Often times the used items being sold on their site are essentially brand new. These items are often returned items or rescued items. The alternative is that they are sent to the landfill or undermine local economies in the 3rd world. (More on that in another post). Buying used can be great way to reduce consumption.
Choose a few to switch - Just a bit more $ - Switch to a few organic items that are marginally more expensive: rice, pasta, tomato sauce, and bananas are a few grocery items that are only slightly more expensive than the non-organic versions. Give it a try! Order some online, shop around, see if you can find some items that aren't much more expensive and start with those.
Take shorter showers and shower less frequently - Save $ - Showers use valuable resources to process the water, heat the water, and treat the used water. Showering less frequently (once every 3-4 days) has actually been shown to be healthier for your skin than showering every day because it preserves the good micro biome of healthy bacteria on your skin.
Use natural soaps - Just a bit more $ - Instead of using soap made from petroleum at a chemical facility, use natural based soaps and cleansers (try our favorites: Dr. Bronner's for personal hygiene and Seventh Generation for cleaning).
Wash clothes only when dirty or smelly - Save $ - Washing clothes less often saves energy, water, soap entering the water system, and waste water treatment. Try wearing your jeans a time or two more before the next wash!
Eat less meat - Save $ - According to the United Nations, raising livestock takes a huge amount of resources. It requires a huge amount of food and water for the animals. It requires large facilities to process the animal waste properly (unless they are pastured animals). Conventionally raised livestock also involves a high usage of growth hormones and profilactic antibiotics. Eating less meat will greatly reduce our impact upon the residents surrounding the production facilities. Consider diverting the savings to buy locally raised, pastured animals.
Don't drive faster than 70mph on the highway- Save $ - MPG can be greatly increased when driving at slower speeds on the highway. When I drive 78mph, my fuel economy is 32mpg. When I drive 70mph, my fuel economy is 37mpg. That's a 15% increase in fuel efficiency [(37-32)/32] just by driving slower. The reason is that aerodynamic drag increases with the square of vehicle speed. Going faster exponentially decreases fuel economy. During WWII they mandated a 35mph "Victory Speed Limit" which renders aerodynamic drag negligible. Every gallon of gasoline or diesel burned creates pollution, reducing air quality and our general health.
Focus on the Dirty Dozen - Just a little extra $ - EWG has published their "Dirty Dozen". This is the list of produce that has the highest usage of pesticides and herbicides. Tackle these first if you aren't able to tackle all. Spinach, strawberries, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes. Switching to organic on these items will help protect farmers and harvesters from chemicals.
Say no to something in order to afford something else to better love your neighbor- No extra $ - There are some things we have decided to reduce or say no to altogether so that we can divert to funds to other items or ways to love others. What can you say no to so that you can afford to love your neighbor? Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
We hope that these suggestions have been helpful. If you have some we can add to the list, send them our way!