Simple Living Works!

Life Standard #4: Cherish the Natural Order

Posted on: June 3, 2013


The Five Life Standards, the essence of voluntary simplicity, are detailed in Doris Janzen Longacre’s book, Living More with Less (now available in a 30th Anniversary edition):

  • Do Justice
  • Learn from the World Community
  • Nurture People, Not Things
  • Cherish the Natural Order
  • Non-conform Freely

Free support materials for Living More with Less:  blogs, video, audio, text, podcasts, etc.

Life Standard #4: Cherish the Natural Order

This is the environmental component. Most folks have heard the four R’s of Caring for Creation — reduce, reuse, recycle and restore.

Reusing means to use something over again. It means not using something just one time. It means refusing consumables like styrofoam cups. And it also means using things that can be repaired. That’s not easy because so many thing are designed to break. It’s called “planned obsolescence.” We can buy tools and appliances and shoes that can be repaired but we need to do our homework to find them. It’s inconvenient. The Europeans are on to something. They are beginning to require manufacturers to be responsible for the final disposition of their product. That should make them a lot more concerned about how the product is built and how it can be repaired and recycled.

Recycling means making something new out of something that’s already been used. Most of us realize that we have to do something. So, we recycle glass, paper and metal. After glugging down a soda we drop the can in the bin and carry the bin to the curb on recycle day and feel proud to be an American, proud that we have done our best for Mother Nature. That’s a start. But that’s really the easiest and least necessary part of the whole cycle. Don’t use recycling as an excuse to keep things the way they are. It’s not OK to keep on over-consuming just because we recycle.

Even more important is Pre-cycling — evaluating a product before you buy it to make sure it is environmentally sound.

And recycling does little good if we don’t Close the Loop… buy products made of recycled materials, such as paper. It does little good to recycle if we don’t then buy the products we need made from recycled materials. Yes, it may for the time being cost a bit more to buy and use recycled paper. But living simply, living faithfully is not living “on the cheap.” Sometimes it costs more to do what’s right.

Restoring… remember what your grandmother used to say, “You got it out. You put it back!” The most common example is trees. But this also relates to sustainable agriculture, i.e. putting natural, not synthetic nutrients back in the soil. This can help make up for past mistakes but never should be used as a reason to make future ones. And some resources cannot be restored, like oil and topsoil.

The first R is the most important… and hardest for Americans… Reduce. That’s what Simple Living is about.

Recent Worth Reading on Earth Care

Keep Pushing for Planet Earth

Eco-Justice Notes: Use Only What You Need

Simple Living and the Five Life Standards Podcasts

In episode 27 of The Common Good Podcast, Lee Van Ham and I find common ground in the micro-economics of voluntary simple living and the macro of Jubilee Economics. It goes way beyond “class warfare” in America to global fairness… seeing the interconnection of our small choices and purchases to the larger systems of governments and corporations. Everything’s connected.

In episode 28, I go beyond the concepts to the practical. Subscribe for free at The Common Good Podcast. Several of my blogs at are about Earth Care.

Peace, Gerald


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