This is How the World Will End

From The Elms, a video filmed in 2008 in Haiti:

When the dollar made with blood is spent,
When an enemy can't become a friend.
When the better man won't lend a hand,
Baby, this is how the world will end.
When a day of hope is a rarity,
Or a diplomat hasn't time to see
That a child lost is a true offense,
Baby, this is how the world will end.

Bring a chair up to the table.
Bring a message to the crowd.
Where's a common trust to deliver us from the wretched and the proud?
Sing a tune about the promise.
Speak on that which we depend.
And if a certain light don't shine again,
Baby, this is how the world will end.

When the poorest kid is fending for himself,
Or the widow cries, but she gets no help.
When we know what's true, but we still pretend,
Baby, this is how the world will end.

I'm still overwhelmed at the loss in Haiti. Friends of mine were just there a couple months ago, and reported back on the abject poverty they saw- before the disaster. Check out their articles on World Next Door both before and since the earthquake, especially Barry's post Heartache.

Our response to this tragedy matters. It' just so big- my heart can't comprehend what just happened, and where to give and help. As a crazy first step, my husband printed out 2 passport applications last night. When volunteers are needed and trips are put together, if God calls us to go, we'll be ready. In the meantime, I'm praying like crazy.


Generational Savings Pitfalls

The founder of Mint.com (Have I mentioned how much I love Mint.com?) talks about how people are cutting back, and where the biggest spending pitfalls are:

I think it's interesting that the younger generations have a penchant toward spending on food- eating out, and social eating or drinking- while the older generations spend on status symbols. The observation is true of me: while I don't have a coffee habit, I do love to eat at restaurants, and this is a habit I'm trying to break,or at least lessen.

Interesting stuff.


Hi dear readers! (All four of you) My last post was an entry into a contest at Inexpensively to go to a conference where all the cool blogging kids will be, Blissdom '10. Now I need your help- go over to Inexpensively and vote for my post among all the other great entries. Thanks!


A Blissful, Simple Life

Every morning, I assemble two lunches. The lunch sack containing a sandwich and chips isn't glamorous, but it saves my husband and I $3,000 a year. (Two $6 fast-food lunches, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year)

In the evening, we snuggle in and watch a TV episode on DVD, or show on Hulu. We can't join the conversation about the latest Office or American Idol, but for over $700 a year for the basic cable channels, I'm OK with being out of the loop.

The cars we drive may have around 100,000 miles on them, but they are paid for. No debt on the cars, no debt on the credit cards, no debt on the school loans- interest on what we owe works against us, and I avoid it like the plague.

In our home, only our desk and our nightstands were bought new- every other piece of furniture was bought second-hand, handed down to us, or hand-made. Our guests are none the wiser.

On the weekends, a home improvement project often consumes our time- whether it's painting or re-flooring or siding or something else on a huge list. We could hire out the work, but my husband enjoys working with his hands and taking care of our home (and he does a great job!).

Rather than vacationing during the summer, we're busy in our yard. The backyard garden provides produce that continues to feed us throughout the year. Green beans, applesauce, herbs, potatoes, pears, peaches, pickles- all these things I haven't had to buy since they were last in season, and probably won't have to for a while.

Why live like this? If I can afford to buy a new car or furniture or processed food, why not go the easier route? Because I believe in living mindfully- Mindful of what we consume. Mindful of being a good steward of what we have. Mindful of being in debt to no one. Mindful of our impact on the earth.

Thanks to this mindfulness, and living below our means, we can ride out the ups and downs of life. When a refrigerator started leaking, we were able to save up and get a new one fairly quickly. When a car was caught in a bad hail storm beyond repair, we were able to incur no debt to replace it. A pipe burst in our home, and the panic was only due to the water pouring out of the hole in the wall, not how we were going to afford a repair. This year, we were able to give more than ever to those less fortunate than ourselves, and that was thrilling. Life is good. Blissful, even.

This is my entry into Inexpensively.com's contest for a Blissdom '10 ticket. I'd love it if you popped over there between the 14th and 20th and gave me a vote. Also, Heather's site is a huge help while working to live this blissful, simple life. Go check it out.


Shopping with Purpose

Every industry has companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, and others that aren't. Who has time to research all of them, though? I try to keep my eye out for reports of abuses by corporations or good things that they're doing, but it's so hard to keep track! Imagine my excitement when a friend sent me a link to Better World Shopper. They even have a handy book!

Better World Shopper has done the research for me in a large number of industries, and has nice, easy-to-understand lists for each. While I wish there was a drill-down option that would offer an explanation of individual companies and rankings, the list is better than nothing! I like hat, at a glance, I can discover, for example, that our Toyota has a better impact on the world than our Volvo, that my choice to patronize the local BP station isn't so bad, and the pint of Ben & Jerry's on my birthday was a pretty good choice.

The listing of good and bad companies is useful, but maybe even moreso, is the list of the categories where change for the better is most imperative. Choosing a socially-responsible bank, for example, isn't something I ever thought about.

Where do you prioritize your socially- and environmentally-conscious shopping? Are lists like this helpful?