May 13, 2009


[from the Summer issue of Flourish magazine]

Savings Sampler

A little here, a little there—making even small financially and ecologically sustainable choices adds up to significant savings in the current economic climate. But making those choices also reflects a commitment to being “content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11), an attitude which extends in value beyond our pocketbooks. The following savings suggestions will reduce some financial stress, but they will also give much health to your environment and much contentment to your spirit.

  • A Lighter Load

Change all incandescent light bulbs in your home to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLS are now sold in most hardware and grocery stores, and although they may initially cost more than incandescent light bulbs, they use 75% less energy than incandescents, and they can last up to ten times longer. For even greater savings on your electricity bills and a reminder to use God’s gifts wisely, make it a spiritual discipline to turn lights and electronics fully off when they’re not in use.

* If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year!

  • Stop the Flow

The simplest thing you can do to lower your water bills is fix leaky faucets. Then, be sure you don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth, shave, or wash dishes by hand. You can rest assured that you are not wasting the most precious resource God has given us, and the one that so many brothers and sisters around the world lack.

* A faucet that drips at a rate of one drop per second can waste 2700 gallons of water a year!

  • Drive Less, Drive Slower, Drive Safer

If you live within two miles of the errands you need to run, literally “running” them (or walking, biking, or rollerblading them) will not only save you gas and gym membership costs, but it will fill your lungs and muscles with the vitality God meant them to enjoy. If leaving the car behind isn’t an option, being more careful to drive the speed limit, gradually slow down and start up at lights and stop signs, and turn your engine off when you’re stopped at train crossings or in traffic can cut your gas usage. Taking care not to rush on the roads may also allow you to notice some new things in your community and keep the streets safer for pedestrians.

* Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

  • Nosh on what Nourishes

Contrary to today’s popular wisdom, eating healthily doesn’t mean eating expensively. The cheapest, healthiest way to feed a family is to cook with whole fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts, and to eat meat and dairy products in moderation. Nothing shrink-wrapped, nothing processed, nothing with unnatural colors. Although eating certified organic food products is of added benefit to your health and the earth, this isn’t as important (or as cheap) as cutting preservatives, chemicals, sugars, and dyes out of your diet, first. And cooking and eating at home—with the TV off and your family around the table—is another way to save money, nourish your body, and feed your soul.

* Children from families who regularly eat together are statistically less likely to develop substance abuse problems and eating disorders.

  • Rest…Like God Did

Make Sabbath-keeping a new delight to your spirit, your surroundings, and your savings. Let yourself luxuriate in creation the way God did when he rested on the seventh day of creation and enjoyed everything that he had made “very good” (Genesis 1:31-2:3). Going to a park, napping in a hammock, or taking a hike or bike ride with family and friends are all free, relaxing activities. Give the rest of your routine a break, too—the dishwasher, the computer, the lawnmower, the TV—and let the space it usually occupies be filled instead with God’s presence and peace as he prepares you for the coming week.

* “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11

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