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Living more with less stuff


More with Less Seminar leaders (l-r) Jane Snyder, Darren Kropf, Joanne Moyer.

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July 15, 2011
-Dan Dyck

Waterloo, ONT. — Stuff. We have lots of it, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.

In the More with Less seminar at Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2011 on Tuesday, July 5, participants  – seventy-five per cent of whom were youth – analyzed the inputs, processing, country of manufacture, and shipping costs of cell phones, clothing, assembly name tags and holders, sunglasses, and program books.

Youth Sylvie B. Wichert, an avid National Geographic reader, pointed out that twelve essential rare earth minerals are used in almost every electronic product. Others wondered about the ethics of grain processed for fuel products, identified the problematic use of plastics made from non-renewable petroleum products, and the large amounts of water used for processing cotton.

While individual consumption was addressed, so was the collective consumption of churches. Some congregations are joining the Sacred Spaces movement in association with Mennonite Central Committee’s Creation Care program, while the Mennonite Creation Care Network is encouraging congregations to join its 100 Shades of Green movement.

Youth described a variety of greening initiatives in their churches, such as transitioning to solar power and a door-to-door campaign to collect excess food for donation to local food programs. Wichert’s church, Toronto United Mennonite, recently converted part of a parking lot into a community garden.

“There’s a row of houses across from our new garden. We wanted to get to know our neighbours better,” she said, adding that a garden is one way to get people out of homes and church buildings and into the neighbourhood space.

Darren Kropf, one of the seminar leaders and self proclaimed “Bible guy” at the youth assembly drew on texts from his green Bible, which uses green print to highlight all scripture passages pertaining to creation care. “What might living simply free you from? What it might it free you for?” he asked the group.

Co-leader Jane Snyder shared the concept of extended producer responsibility, where companies take back their end-of-life products and reclaim materials to manufacture new products.

Impressive was the list of greener living tips participants already knew about: public bicycle lending in cities, green bin composting initiatives, DVD and clothing swaps, and shopping at thrift stores and farmer’s markets topped the list of how to avoid accumulating more stuff – and
hopefully recycling or re-purposing other stuff.