I was having a conversation with my friend who was in town for a visit this weekend. We were discussing my gas grill.
I bought a gas grill because I did some research on the most responsible way to cook meals. When you use your oven in the summer time, often the heat from the oven will cause your air conditioning to run non stop for an hour or so. In our apartment, our AC unit is pretty small and our ceilings are high, so when I use our gas oven the AC runs the rest of the night. So, you can avoid undue stress on your air conditioning by cooking outside, where its hot anyway. Charcoal and wood grills spew lots of carbon into the air, thus negating their usefulness as an ecologically responsible alternative to the gas oven. Propane grills have some of the best ratings for preparing meals in hot weather. Works for me, because I like to cook outside.
One of the rules we have for purchasing anything is that my wife is tired of having crappy, disposable stuff around that we hate for 18 months until we throw it away and buy some other undesirable product and repeat the process. Plus, buying something that you will end up throwing away does nothing for the landfill situation, so we are left with finding something at a reasonable price that will last as long as possible. Shortly after we moved into our apartment, I started the search for a gas grill. The classifieds and second hand stores turned up only rusty old cheap grills and expensive, but nice, used grills. It was almost the end of the season, so we found ourselves in the situation that a new grill was a better investment than a used one. We get a quality grill with a warranty that will last us longer than we intend to stay in this apartment. So, we bought a new grill and have been using it comfortably since.
Our pastor stopped by a few weeks ago, and as we went into the house via the back deck, he commented, “Hey, nice grill.” I hadn’t thought about it until then, but I had this nice shiny new grill on my back deck, glimmering in defiance against the backdrop of our minimalist lifestyle. I was communicating something about my value system with my purchase, even though I had reached the decision to buy the grill based on several key elements of the kind of life that I want to live.
So, this begs the question, how can I communicate my values to others and make responsible decisions in the process. you have always told me not to feel responsible for others’ actions, but to own my impact on them. So that is what I try to do. I don’t encourage people to buy new stuff, because we have enough stuff for everone already, we don’t need to contribute to the packaging craze. I also encourage people to make intentional decisions about how they live their life, which is what I was doing with my grill.
Perhaps this feels like mucking around in the details, and maybe it is, but I think that if we don’t evaluate what we do then we fail to live our lives on purpose. That road ends at a place where you could find yourself wondering what happened to your life. I know, because I have found myself there before, and it is not something that I want to repeat. I have considered selling the grill and buying something more modest, but I am not sure that I would break even, so modesty would end up costing me more. So, I probably won’t. But, I feel responsible for at least evaluating it and having the conversation.