Inspirations from Just Living

Have you read a book and wished that you had written it? This was how I felt reading Just Living by Ruth Valerio – until God reminded me that I had my own story to tell and not to wish I were someone else.

Just Living is both academic (full of references and quotations by theologians, sociologists and cultural anthropologists) and practical (with ideas and tips of how we can live more just lives). It’s a book to read and re-read.

I’ll write about the academic ideas and concepts another time; today I want to rush ahead to how I’ve been re-envisioned and re-purposed to live well in a globalised and consumerist world.

The book lists seven areas: global social concern, ecological concern, approach to money and material goods, ethical consumerism, local community, activism and time.

There are some things the Pilgrim family do well; I’m listing a few not to boast but to inspire:

  • I’ve only flown twice since March 2009 (but to be honest travelling by rail to the south of France was not a sacrifice and part of a romantic adventure).
  • We only have one car (but again not that much of a sacrifice for me as I’m not the one cycling to work when it’s cold, wet or a heatwave).
  • We have beautiful wedding rings from Cred Jewellery.
  • Mr Pilgrim is a recycling genius – it’s lovely watching Small Boy emulate this: ‘Just putting this in the paper bin, Mummy’.
  • Our gas and electricity come from Ebico – a social enterprise helping those affected by fuel poverty.

There are areas where I’ve lapsed:

  • I have a tendency to put the heating on rather than a jumper. I need to stop doing this!
  • Shopping ethically: Last year, I bought some Converse shoes and my colleague said that she was surprised I’d bought them because of their ethics. To my chagrin, I hadn’t even thought of looking at their social and environmental record: Ethical Consumer gives them a score of 5/20. When I need to replace them, I will purchase some Ethletic trainers as my colleague did. In the meantime, I am going to check Ethical Consumer before making purchases and (this one will be tricky) stop shopping at Amazon (because of their tax avoidance). Eek. No buying of books, second-hand books and e-books. I’ve deleted my payment details and actually feel on edge by this action.

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  • I’m ashamed to say I have started drinking a non-fair trade instant coffee (which is rather lovely and helps kick start my day) so I’m searching for a great fair trade instant coffee. Let me know please if you have any recommendations!
  • Campaigning: I’d lost hope and heart that my emails, letters and petition-signing actually made any difference at all. Re-envisioned, I’ve already sent an email to the governor of Arkansas who is planning to execute eight men by the end of this month, signed a petition against the torture of gay men in Chechnya and contacted my local councillor about a problem with our little play park.

There are some actions which I just cannot face:

  • I don’t think it will help family life overall (thinking of my mental health and stress levels) if we use reusable nappies (although some people argue that reusable nappies aren’t actually that much better for the environment because you need to wash them).

And I have been inspired to try some new things:

  • Eating less meat: Mr Pilgrim has agreed to try and eat more meat-free meals. We’re going to start with some recipes from Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Recipes to Make Meat Eaters Envious and some veggie curries.
  • I’ve signed up to support A Rocha (£3 per month) – a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world. (This may have been partly because supporters receive a welcome pack and a twice-yearly magazine!)
  • Praying for my three local councillors. I’ve put their photos on the inside of a kitchen cupboard so every time I make a cup of fair trade tea or coffee, I’ll pray for them.
  • And one other New Thing which I’m not ready to blog about, just yet!

Please do ask me how I am getting on and to call me out (gently!) if you think there are actions I could take or should be taking to live well in a globalised and consumerist society. Let’s keep talking, inspiring one another and provoking each other to live justly.