Praise for Inefficiency

A Smart Car pulled up next to me at a red light on my way to work this morning.

On the other side of the road, I noticed the normal variety of vehicles, mostly with one occupant each, making their way to the normal variety of places.

The Smart Car got me thinking about efficiency.  While we have 2 small children, a two-seater is not a great choice for us. So I think, as I drive my 10 year old car that gets pretty good mileage, about the possibilities of an electric car or a hybrid.

When it comes to cars, some of us are all about efficiency.

For almost 5 years, Rachel and I shared one car.  While it wasn’t the most fuel efficient car available, it was paid for and did pretty well with gas.  We also learned, while sharing a car, to maximize the value of each trip we took.

Because we are all about efficiency.

These last few mornings I’ve been opening windows throughout the house to invite cooler air inside.  I think doing so will lower our need for air-conditioning when the afternoon reaches the mid 90s. Our house is pretty well insulated and we shop for the lowest electricity rates we can find.

Because we are all about efficiency.

But then this morning I read Deuteronomy 24. I am rethinking efficiency.

God’s people are told not to be all about efficiency.  Part of the way they were (we are) to help take care of the “widow, the orphan, and the immigrant,” is to refuse to be all about efficiency.

The agrarian people of God were commanded in Deuteronomy 24:19-22 intentionally not to harvest their fields as efficiently as possible.

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”

I think included in this call toward inefficiency is an opportunity to develop trust.  As we learn to trust God (remember; this command comes from the God who has delivered the people from slavery and is leading them to the Promised Land) we learn to see life as a blessing from God.

The more we come to understand life as a blessing from God, the easier it will be, I believe, to learn to live within our means. Living within our means enables us to become more generous.

May you see today as a blessing from the God who has – or who will – deliver you, and may you learn to live inefficiently in response!


Rachel gave me, and 6 or 7 other people, Chico Bags for Christmas.  Here’s what the tag on the bag says:

ChicoBags can save the average American 300 to 700 plastic shopping bags per year, which will save 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil.  A population of 100,000 people can save up to 14,000 barrels of oil per year using reusable bags.

You don’t have to use Chico Bags.  More and more places sell their own similar bags.   How about joining us for 2008 by usign as few plastic shopping bags as possible.

Meaningless Guarantee

Driving home the other day, I had the radio on to protect me from silence.

An ad came on that was some guy from DFW hawking air conditioning systems.  Apparently this past summer he had bought quite an inventory and still had a bunch on hand.  He is selling them fairly cheaply, he said, and offering free insulation as a bonus.

Then he makes a guarantee. “We guarantee you’ll cut your utility costs by up to 66% in your first year!”

What does this mean?  It seems to me that the only claim you would have is if you saved more than 66%.   If you are saving more than that on your utility costs, are you going to call and complain?

What’s he gonna do? replace your system for saving too much money?

(After you read this) Turn this Computer off!

Inc. Magazine reports that about two-thirds of the energy used by computers is used when they are not in use.  So, when you are through reading this (and, of course, passing the link on to several friends), turn off your computer!

Or consider Verdiem’s Surveyor software.  It monitors keyboard and mouse movement of any computer on your network, and shuts down the ones that are not in use.

Green Baby Steps

Today, Thursday, is normally our day off.  When we are home, we usually do laundry on our day off.  Today, we added a creation-friendly step to this: we put up a clothesline and have line-dried most of our laundry.

We had tossed around the idea for some time, but this past weekend the Waco Tribune-Herald had a piece on clotheslines.  This part got me:

There are 88 million electric dryers in the U.S., according to 1995 data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Each year, they consume 1,079 kilowatt hours of energy per household and emit 2,224 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Today, we line-dried.

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