Having lived most of my life in metropolitan areas — with just about every mega chain store in easy reach — I had never made anything for myself and almost never bought anything used.
That was before moving to a tiny town in Sweden four years ago. Now we live 45 minutes away from the nearest bigger town, where there are a limited number of stores for electronics, toys, kids’ clothes, home improvement supplies and good coffee beans. But the only time we’ll spew carbon dioxide and spend the money on gas to get there (it’s $7/gallon here) is if we have more than one reason to go. It’s about the only time we ever drive the car.
As a result, I’ve learned to become much more resourceful when it comes to consumption. I made the dog a new bed as my first-ever sewing project (it was super easy!). I regularly buy used clothes for myself and my daughter on Sweden’s version of eBay, and I recently bought a fixer-upper dollhouse at the flea market down the road.
Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely love to buy the Plan Toys Eco Home for my 19-month-old. And if we lived within Oompa Toys’ domestic shipping range, I’d probably already have it. But I’m banking on the huge feeling of satisfaction I’ll get when I turn the two-story eyesore into a stylie little Swedish doll-pad — and when I hear my daughter years from now telling her friends that “my mom made this for me.” And when you look at it that way, living simpler and greener really isn’t a sacrifice at all.
I hope this inconvenient way of thinking stays with me even when we’re an easy drive away from PetsMart and Target.