Ideas for Living More With Less


“For the blessings we are about to receive and consume in this car, make us truly grateful.”  An act of gratitude for the fuel we consume.  Do you use the earth’s resources with reverence?

Putting people ahead of things?  Friendship above possessions?  It’s your choice!

Bigger is better, right?  Or the less you need, the freer you become.  What is your experience?

“I got hooked on the stuff as a kid.”  The addiction – money. Are you under the influence of affluence?

What seven simple choices will help you value the life God has given you?

The youth group at Trinity Presbyterian Church weatherized their old church building in order to save energy and money. Check it out.

Listen to Valerie describe her choice to be a vegetarian and how that has impacted her relationships with others.


Celebrations & Life Passages

Alternative Gift Registry: The Center for a New American Dream has set up an alternative gift registry for celebrations like weddings and baby showers, in which gift-givers can see a list of alternative gifts desired by the recipient (including intangibles such as babysitting help or meals).

Simplify the Holidays: A booklet about simple celebrations from the Center for a New American Dream.

Clothes & Bodies

Sweatshop-free Clothing Offers suggestions for consumers on how to buy sweatshop-free apparel.

The Thrift Shopper: Offers a national thrift store directory for the United States.

Cooking & Eating

Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table: Jennifer Halteman Schrock wrote this seven-session curriculum for congregations about how eating connects to our faith. Version available for middle schoolers as well.

More-with-Less Cookbook: A World Community Cookbook: The 25th-anniversary edition of Doris Janzen Longacre’s classic cookbook.

Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook: Following in the tradition of the More-with-Less Cookbook, Extending the Table features recipes from around the world. Written by Joetta Handrich Schlabach.

Simply in Season: A World Community Cookbook: A cookbook for seasonal eating by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Published by Herald Press. New, expanded edition available.

Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook: This colorful cookbook for kids helps them make connections between what they eat, where it comes from, and what is in season.

Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything: A new book about preserving seasonal foods. Edited by Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer and published by Herald Press.

Nourishing Traditions: A cookbook on the use of whole, natural foods by Sally Fallon.

Food Routes: A U.S. nonprofit that works to educate people about their food—where it comes from, who produces it, and how far it travels to their plates.

Gardens & Farms & Markets

Local Harvest: Find farmers markets, family farms, and other sources of local and sustainable food.

Farm to School: Connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.

Composting: has information for beginners to experts.

Backyard Poultry: bi-monthly puglication with information on raising, breeding, marketing and housing your own backyard flock.

Composting and Kids: Composting not only serves the environment, it is also an awesome science experiment that can help kids learn more about biology, life cycles, recycling, and conservation

General Resources

Simple Living Works! coordinated by Gerald Iverson has extensive resources and index on living more with less. A true devotee.

Carbon Footprint Calculator (Canada): Calculate your carbon footprint and then donate carbon offsets based on your footprint. Tax-deductible receipts available.

Carbon Footprint Calculator (United States): Calculate your carbon footprint at the Nature Conservancy’s website.

Carbon Sabbath Initiative: Curricula, instructions, and ideas for creating carbon Sabbath groups. CSI groups can meet in homes or places of worship to “learn more about our addiction to fossil fuels, reduce our consumption and carbon footprint, and advocate for a more just world.” Sponsored by KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

Eco-Justice Programs: The National Council of Churches offers a variety of programs, campaigns, resources, and ideas for congregations and individuals interested in creation care.

Evangelical Environmental Network: A nonprofit organization that seeks to “educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God’s creation.” Initiated by Christian environmentalist Bill McKibben, is an international movement dedicated to finding solutions to the climate crisis.

Blessed Earth: Begun by Matthew and Nancy Sleeth, Blessed Earth offers resources and events for congregations, colleges, and households on creation care.

Taos TiLT and Rewilding the Way: Todd Wynward and TiLT (Taos initiative for Life Together) is a Mennonite-inspired social change movement brewing around Taos, New Mexico. Loosely-affiliated individuals in community combine creative cultural resistance, transformative economics, watershed discipleship, high-desert homesteading, innovative education and shared community practices to reimagine the good life.

Web of Creation: This website, maintained by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was established to “foster the movement for personal and social transformation to a just and sustainable world from religious perspectives.” Contains links and resources for eco-justice.

Restoring Eden: Restoring Eden is a network “dedicated to empowering Christians to engage in faithful stewardship of the natural world as a biblical, moral, and wise value.” Includes resources on nature appreciation, environmental stewardship, and public advocacy.

Earth Trek: Author Joanne Moyer uses the seven days of creation to explore the created world and how Christians are called to care for the earth. Available from Mennonite Central Committee.

Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth: This book, co-published by Herald Press and Mennonite Mutual Aid, shows the path from scripture to stewardship. Designed for small groups.

For the Beauty of the Earth: Women, Faith, and Creation Care: Twelve sessions are contained in this book by Patty Friesen, which looks at our relationship with God’s creation and how to care for it. Ideal for women’s gatherings, Sunday School classes, and retreats.

The Green Bible: An NRSV edition of the Bible in which verses and passages that speak to God’s care for creation are highlighted in green. Supplemental material also included.

Creation and the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World: Edited by Calvin Redekop and published in 2000, this volume includes essays by fourteen contributors on Anabaptist-Christian environmentalism.

For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care: This book by Steven Bouma-Prediger has been called the most thorough evangelical treatment of a theology of creation care.

Serve God, Save the Planet: Matthew Sleeth lays out a rationale for Christian environmental responsibility.

Go Green, Save Green: A Simple Guide to Saving Time, Money, and God’s Green Earth: Nancy Sleeth includes hundreds of practical tips for stewarding financial and natural resources in her book.

A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming: Michael S. Northcott details the way in which consumer societies continue to overuse resources and overproduce carbon while those who have little bear the cost.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: 365 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Resources, and Money: This handbook by Joanna Yarrow actually offers 500 ideas for conserving energy, preventing pollution, and saving money.

How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Stopping Climate Change: A comprehensive reference guide to calculating carbon emissions and planning for how to reduce them.

Green Living Handbook: A 6 Step Program to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle: Author David Gershon walks readers step-by-step through a comprehensive lifestyle transformation program.

Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds—Be Part of the Global Warming Solution: Another practical guide by David Gershon for anyone interested in reducing global warming.

Let There Be . . . Stuff?: A six-session curriculum that helps Christian teenagers reflect on the connections between their faith, their consumption, and the health of the planet.


Recipes for cleaning solutions: Find a variety of recipes for housecleaning solutions.

Project Laundry List: offers tips, information, and resources for air-drying clothes and cold-water washing.


ReStores: Resale outlets that sell reusable and surplus building materials. Run by Habitat for Humanity.

Canada Green Building Council: A nonprofit that provides education, resources, and LEED certification for green buildings.

U.S. Green Building Council: A nonprofit that provides education, resources, and LEED certification for green buildings.

Green Home Building: A site with resources for sustainable building.

Meetinghouses & Churches

Congregational Score Sheet: The Mennonite Creation Care Network offers a helpful score sheet for congregations interested in measuring their environmental stewardship.

One Hundred Shades of Green: The Mennonite Creation Care Network is inviting congregations to name a creation care liaison. Become one of 100 congregations actively caring for creation.

Putting Energy into Stewardship Congregations Guide: A congregational guide to greening worship and worship spaces from Energy Star.

Web of Creation: Offers ideas and strategies for eco-justice. Maintained by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Season of Creation: Online worship liturgies for four Sundays that guide congregations to “join in celebrating with Christ the wonders of creation.”

Building a Firm Foundation: A Creation-Friendly Building Guide for Churches: A free downloadable guide from the National Council of Churches designed to support churches in building or remodeling sustainably and faithfully.

Greening Sacred Spaces: A Canadian initiative to “assist faith communities with both the educational and spiritual dimensions of greening as well as the “how-to” side of audits, retrofits and generally reducing the faith community’s footprint.”

Green Faith: An interfaith partnership for the environment that inspires, educates, and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Offers a certification process for congregations.

Eco-faith: Creating and Sustaining Green Congregations: A user-friendly guide for pastors, congregational leaders, and others seeking to help their congregations care for the whole of God’s creation. By Charlene Hosenfeld.

50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference: A slim handbook by Rebecca Barnes-Davies on ways for religious communities to put their faith into action as it relates to the environment.

Money & Stewardship


Green America: Formerly known as Co-op America, Green America contains information and programs about fair trade, climate action, green energy, and socially responsible investing.

Mining Justice Campaign: Mennonite Central Committee in Canada engages in advocacy for mining justice.

Mennonite Economic Development Associates: An organization committed to creating business solutions to poverty. Involved in international microfinance, loans, and mentorship programs.

National Green Pages: A directory of products and services “for people and the planet.” Committed to sustainable, socially just principles.

Ten Thousand Villages: One of the world’s largest fair-trade organizations.

Fair Trade Certified/TransFair USA: A nonprofit organization that allows U.S. companies to display the fair-trade label.

Global Exchange: An international human rights organization that promotes environmental, political, and social justice, with a fair-trade program.

Good Stuff? A Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy: A free, downloadable guide to the environmental and social impacts of the products you buy and use.

The Ultimate Green Shopping Guide: Green shopping involves more than using reusable bags and buying energy efficient bulbs. Links to lots more ideas.

Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth, Luke Gascho, Mennonite Mutual Air, 2008

Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s CreationJoanne Moyer, Herald Press, 2004

Firstfruits Living: Giving God Our Best Lynn Miller, Mennonite Mutual Aid, 1991

A High Price for Abundant Living: The Story of Capitalism, Henry Rempel, Herald Press, 2003

Money Mania: Mastering the Allure of Excess, Mark L. Vincent, Mennonite Mutual Aid, 2005

Recreation & Schedules

Alternative Gift Registry: The Center for a New American Dream has set up an alternative gift registry for celebrations like weddings and baby showers, in which gift-givers can see a list of alternative gifts desired by the recipient (including intangibles such as babysitting help or meals).

Simplify the Holidays: A booklet about simple celebrations from the Center for a New American Dream.

Strengthening Each Other & Organizing Communities

Mennonite Creation Care
A bi-national Christian organization which welcomes anyone who wishes to be part of a faith-based network of people engaged in caring for creation.

Sample congregational share list: See this list from First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, Ohio, as an example of a congregation-based share list of items and services.

Transition Town Movement: A network of towns committed to responding to climate change.

Parent Trek: A book by Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi on ways to raise joyful, generous, creative children. Includes reflective questions and practical ideas. Produced by Mennonite Central Committee.

Living Simply with Children: A resource book by Marie Sherlock about raising children who care about people and the planet.

Simple Living Forums
New Road Map Foundation hosts a number of forums on simple living, including topics such as workplace issues, transportation, organizing your life, volunteering, alternative ways to celebrate holiday, health care and much more.

Christian Simple Living
Steve Seitz, a member of the Church of the Brethren, blogs about a holistic way of life based on mindfully loving and caring for each other and the world.

New Community Project
A faith-based non-profit organization with the modest goal of changing the world.  Encourages working toward a new community of justice, peace and respect for God’s earth.

Technology & Media

Hear a podcast interview with the editor of the 30th anniversary edition ofLiving More With Less, Valerie Weaver-Zercher, as interviewed by Gerald Iverson at Simply Living Works!

Conflict-Free Electronics: Find out about the connections between electronic devices and the war in eastern Congo, and contact the twenty-one major electronics corporations to urge them to make their products “conflict free.” Organized by The Enough Project, a campaign to end genocide and crimes against humanity.

Electronics Take-Back Campaign: Works to make electronics manufacturers responsible for the safe design, manufacture, and recycling of their equipment.

Pew Internet & American Life Project: Contains information and reports about the impact of the Internet on American families, communities, education, health care, and daily life.

Transportation & Travel

De-Motorize Your Soul: A campaign of Geez magazine, this is a “guilt-free experiment in untangling the human body, mind and soul from the oil apparatus.”

Voluntary gas tax: A website explaining the rationale for and methods of taxing yourself for oil consumption.

Stories & Ideas for Simple Living

Stories and ideas in the Living More with Less book were gathered from hundreds of entries sent from around the world. There were too many to include all of them in the book, so they’re included below, by category.  We’d love to add your story, idea or simple living tip to these pages.  Email them to us and we’ll post.

Celebrations & Life Passages

Bury green.
Many funeral products and services are geared toward preservation of the deceased. A green burial is about giving our bodies back to the earth as it says in the Bible: “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it” (Eccles. 12:7).

A green burial is a burial that has no ecological footprint. This means forgoing the use of embalming fluids, a burial vault, a permanent marker or monument as well as the use of a 100 percent biodegradable casket. Eco-friendly embalming fluids exist, but they are not widely available or promoted. Many cemeteries require a vault for the simple reason of easy lawn care. An alternative would be for the cemetery to fill in the dirt and re-seed as needed.

There are certified burial grounds, which resemble nature preserves rather then carefully manicured properties. Interestingly, the United States is one of few countries in the world where embalming and the use of vaults is a standard practice and many people have the misconception that these are required by law. Many European countries do not allow embalming and do not use a vault.

Jan Oostland, Goshen, Ind.

Mother’s Day.
I asked for and received a rain barrel for Mother’s Day because I preferred to have a gift that would be useful long-term. I wanted to collect rainwater for my flower gardens and house plants rather than use tap water. I also asked for a composting bin.

Susan Gingerich, Perkasie, Pa.

Pumpkin fairy.
One of my students had a wonderful Halloween tradition. After collecting candy in the neighborhood, the family would choose several favorites to keep. The remainder of the candies would be left in a bag on the front porch for the “pumpkin fairy.” In the middle of the night, this fairy would take the candy and in its place leave a book or a game for the family to enjoy. This is a tradition that we have started in our household, and it is fun to see what the fairy brings each year!

Rebecca Seiling, Waterloo, Ont.

Clothes & Bodies

Family swap

Melinda Weaver of Baltimore, Md., enjoys family reunions not only because of reconnecting with family while enjoying good food, but also because of the souvenirs, of sorts, that she acquires.

“It’s a tradition within our extended family that if you have something you’re not using or wearing, to bring it to family gatherings and we have a big clothing exchange!” says Melinda. This allows everyone to switch his or her wardrobe, save money, and see other people’s clothes. “You rarely find two of the same thing,” Melinda adds.

Submitted by Karina Kreider, Akron, Pa.

Stamping shirts, saving shirts

“Everyone has them, everyone wears them, everyone gets stuff on them,” remarks Melodie Wenger of Pilot, Va. What is “them”? T-shirts of course. After observing the ease with which many people discard their old but still wearable shirts, Wenger began collecting those that people would otherwise have thrown away. She then spices them up using recycled print blocks, patches any holes or frays, and then places them in a gallery of “new” shirts.

“I believe that human beings as a species have made a lot of unfortunate choices, but it is still within our grasp to make choices that make life more wonderful for all of us,” says Wenger. “It’s a win-win situation for me because I get to be creative with an easily available source, and I can easily pass my creativity on to other people in a way that costs me very little.”

Submitted by Karina Kreider, Akron, Pa.

Cheap frills 

In the back corner of an old, redbrick warehouse in Lancaster, Pa., is a treasure trove of sorts. Here, Kristina Roth Martin and her business partner have created Cheap Frills, a clothing thrift store. They travel throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania buying clothing from other secondhand stores that they then salvage, mend, and sell. As well as being an excellent recycling program and a sustainable method of dressing oneself, Cheap Frills provides designer clothing at an affordable cost.

“We like that we can have people of all walks of life shopping for beautiful things,” says Kristina. “We don’t want to be just an exclusive shop. We want to have it be accessible to everyone.”

Submitted by Karina Kreider, Akron, Pa.

Shed the uniform

Not only do we get to create beautiful clothes and adornment as we sell our handmade earrings and dresses through our online shop, we enjoy the process of imagination and collaboration. For me (Morgan), KathleenMeetsMorgan is more than a fun business partnership with a long-time friend and mentor; it creates balance and health in my life as a social worker in Pittsburgh.

For me (Kathleen), focusing passion on dress design culminates decades of social and political engagement as a former college teacher and pastor. We both find beauty in the mundane around us, using items from our daily life. A pair of train-flattened coins might become a pair of dangly earrings. Or a long-mothballed piece of polished cotton looks like a potential party dress.

We make more with less, yes, spending little on our supplies, always with an eye to what is good and just. Yet we also find that our more with less becomes more and more. We love to help our friends, family, and customers shed the “uniform” of mass-produced garments produced by an industry that too often exploits its workers. Attire is, to us, a chance to affirm life, peace, and beauty!

Kathleen Temple and Morgan Kraybil, Harrisonburg, Va., and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Cooking & Eating

Gardens & Farms & Markets



Meetinghouses & Churches

Money & Stewardship

Recreation & Schedules

Strengthening Each Other & Organizing Communities

Technology & Media

Transportation & Travel

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Part memoir, part tour of the apocalypse, and part call to action.

Donald Kraybill's guide on the Amish, a people known for their simplicity, and commitment to peaceful living.