"By choosing what we spend our money on we actually affect what gets made."
~ my son Noah, recent Waldorf graduate, who took an economics class this semester.
It is true that one way to make our lives more meaningful is to shop with integrity. We can feel good about the things we buy and who we buy them from by making careful and thoughtful choices about the items and foods we bring into our homes.
For example, I like shopping in our local owner-run stores as they provide a curated collection of good things. I enjoy the experience of shopping, the atmosphere and feeling connected to the products and people. The farmers market is another great example with the open air, great smells, colors and tastes. To know the people behind what we buy feels good.
It also makes a real difference to the makers; the person making wooden toys, the local doll sewer, our farmers. Real people making an honest living practicing their craft.
We can follow this further and ask them questions and for stories about the items. We can then tell the stories of our beautiful objects and delicious foods to our children, neighbors and friends.
As I sit her looking around our home the things I love best are:
- my pottery mug full of locally roasted coffee
- the hand knit blanket I am wrapped up in
- a pile of books, well read and loved
- hand carved wooden animals on the mantel, with sea shells and pretty rocks
- a woven basket one of my kids made
- a painting done by my mom
- a crayon drawing by my niece
- a woven pillow from Guatemala and my Peace Corps days
- photographs I took and framed
- flowers I planted and cut
- a bowl of fruit from a local orchard
These give me a deep satisfaction that factory made items just don't.
So when I shop at farm markets, craft fairs, local shops, etsy and thift stores there is a deep feeling of "right" and wonderful stories come.
Making many of our own things also helps us feel connected to them. Knitting, sewing, canning, gardening have deep and lasting affects on our families.
We can surround ourselves with beautiful, functional, useful possessions. We can be proud of our homes and have a reverence toward them.
Waldorf classrooms all over the world have this amazing ability to fill our childrens school space with simple objects of beauty. Handmade things, and items from nature fill the classrooms. They can be an inspiration to us all.
And I think Noah is right. Where we spend our money really does make a difference.