Many of my earth stewardship practices stem from my belief in being frugal. I spent six years in undergraduate and graduate studies and now I’m the wife of a graduate student, living in an expensive foreign country. I’ve spent a fair bit of my adult life with limited financial resources and I’ve invested time in finding ways to stretch those resources. Most (but definitely not all) of my methods for saving and using money wisely also happen to encourage earth friendly practices and wise stewardship of resources other than money (like water and energy), because earth stewardship and frugality share a common principle: Do Not Waste.
The old adage to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without (with some variations) is common to both the thrifty and the eco-conscious. It’s also something often quoted by church leaders, including in an address by Elder Joe J. Christensen titled Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgince. In the talk, Elder Christensen says, “Our resources are a stewardship, not our possessions” and he goes on to say that we will be accountable to God for how we use our resources. Again, I think this applies beautifully to both thrifty living and earth stewardship.
I read several blogs about thrify living, but the first media to really influence me in this area is a book called, The Complete Tightwad Gazette. The author, Amy Dacyzyn, is a professional graphic designer but after she married and had her first child, she gave up her career to be a mother. She and her husband dreamed of buying a New England farm house, so Amy adopted an extremely frugal lifestyle for the family and began her “Tightwad Gazette” newsletter in order to remain at home with her children and save the money required to buy her dream home.
The newsletters were compiled in a series of books, and I love them. Many of the suggestions are too extreme for me and I certainly don’t choose to adopt all of the author’s practices, but I find the newsletters very readable and full of useful information on repurposing household items, thrift store shopping, making homemade,
and celebrating holidays in less consumer ways. Some things in the book now seem dated and I’d love to find a more up-to-date work that I enjoy as much, but I still consider The Complete Tightwad Gazette an important book in the canon of thrifty literature.