COLUMBUS, Ohio - How much landfill-bound garbage does one household produce per week? Could that amount be reduced by starting a compost pile in the backyard? Could neighbors carpool together or take the bus to work rather than driving in three separate vehicles? Is household money being spent in constructive, life-giving ways, or does it create more "clutter"?
In the fast-paced city of Columbus, Ohio, small groups of households and individuals gather monthly to grapple with such concrete questions about consumption and simple lifestyles, and to build relationships of support and challenge. Ranging from college students to professionals to retirees, and differing broadly in faith backgrounds, the 50 people who have embraced the name "Simply Living" are translating their concern for global justice and ecological sustainability into tangible local action.
Although Simply Living is not exclusively a faith-based organization, participants ground their work for social change in the reflection/action model practiced in many Christian communities. In less than two years, members have launched a number of "learning groups" that meet monthly to examine topics such as financial stewardship, voluntary simplicity, holistic health, and spirituality and ritual, and to incorporate the fruits of their study into their daily lives.
More than 20 households have formed "eco-teams," groups of approximately five households that pursue a six-month course of assessment and reduction of their own ecological consumption. These teams, complete with a "coach" (a leadership role rotated among various participants), provide not only fertile ground for developing conservation strategies but also the accountability necessary to implement those plans on a habitual basis. Having fun and developing friendships are not ignored amid activism, however; the group gathers as a whole every few