When was the last time you made something? I’m not talking about making a mess – something my wife says I’m great at doing – or even making a sandwich – also a very good thing, especially if it has good cheese and homemade chutney in it. I’m talking about being intentional and creating time to make a gift for a friend or loved one. If you did take the time to make something, how did it feel? Did you enjoy it and did using or giving away the thing you have made feel all the more satisfying?
I absolutely love the idea and ethos of an initiative known as Craftivism, which is highlighting that speaking out for a more just and fair world can be done differently, with greater care and creativity. For their latest campaign, to persuade Marks & Spencer to pay the living wage, they took hand crafted handkerchiefs as gifts and messages to the AGM to get their campaign message across.
We are in love with things that look old, historic and worn. When I got married my wife introduced me to the idea of buying second-hand furniture. If I’m honest, everything within me wanted to make a trip to Ikea to buy lots of new things, but when I saw the quality of the things we could buy second-hand I changed my mind. We’ve been married 12 years and while our Ikea chest of draws is looking tired and on its last legs, our more beautiful and better made second-hand furniture is still as solid as it was when we bought it. It’s furniture that’s made to last.
Recently the idea of buy me once shopping was brought to my attention. It may just be a sign of our times and the latest idea that’s tapping into the zeitgeist, but what if it was more than that? What if we took the time and effort to make and buy things that were designed to last rather than just for a few years or even months? Dame Ellen MacArthur did the incredible thing of sailing around the world. Interestingly and surprisingly – in her own words – she came to discover something that she hadn’t expected to on her travels. She’s now convinced that we need to boldly rewire the way the economy works to make it less wasteful and to reuse our resources far better. She calls this the circular economy, where rather than the cycle of make, use, dispose, we instead move to a model that recovers and regenerates materials for their next cycle of use.
Tearfund have an idea of how we can reimagine how we contribute to and run the economy. The Restorative Economy is a report, but also a conversation starter around how we are consuming and how we might do it differently. The rate at which we are consuming means that we need resources for the equivalent of three planet earths, and yet we know that we only have one. Our consumption and use of resources is unsustainable and having the greatest impact on the world’s poorest people, including accelerating the effects of climate change. This is where our delight of convenience is literally a disaster for our global neighbours.
The Restorative Economy report makes the case that change starts with our lifestyles. It is why, alongside the report, Tearfund launched a campaign called Ordinary Heroes, which is seeking to inspire us to take everyday actions to be the change we want to see in the world.
So rather than spending an afternoon in a busy shopping mall or negotiating the frenzied maze you walk on a trip to Ikea, could you take a few hours to make or restore something. It will be good for your soul as well as good for God’s earth. For me this year, I want to spend more time at the community allotment helping to grow and cultivate vegetables rather than a Saturday afternoon trip to the supermarket. What one thing could you do this year to make or restore something, and in doing it, find life for you and for others?
This post is part of a series that our friends at Rhythms are writing on minimalism and ethical lifestyles.