My first month of buying nothing new for a year was a success! I had a few challenging moments but made it out of the month having bought nothing new. This is largely a personal challenge for myself to see if I can make it a year without having to buy (or be given) anything new but it is also a means to inspire others to be more resourceful and find ways to meet their needs that do not involve going out and buying anything new. This is beneficial in many ways but my two personal favorites are the reduction of environmental impact and the reduction of money needed to live. It’s easy to just run out to the store or go online and buy anything we need because we live in a society that has made shopping very convenient, seemingly mentally rewarding, and almost seemingly necessary to just be a “normal” member of society. But the problem is that all of this stuff causes real environmental destruction and is the source to many of the most pressing and depressing environmental and social issues of our time. Simply not buying new stuff is one way to live a drastically more environmentally and socially conscious and responsible life. The Story of Stuff does an incredible job of showing how the cost of our cheap stuff is externalized to the natural environment and other people.
There’s no arguing that having a child is not the most environmentally sustainable thing to do. When I became a mother, it was important to me to maintain the integrity of my low-impact lifestyle and find ways to offset the carbon footprint of adding another human to the planet. My son is now six. Parenting him, like for so many, makes life personally sustainable and there is no underestimating the value in that choice. It’s also a daily opportunity to choose to live in harmony with the Earth with the compounded influence of teaching another person this value. Parenting is activism insofar as activism is making the world better.
Below are some suggestions that I use to raise my environmentalist. I would love to hear yours in the comments below!
As a mom of three I am admittedly always seeking the easy route. Just surviving the day to day can be an uphill battle. I care about our earth, and I want my children to grow up caring about it as well- but I’m TIRED. We’re far from perfect, but I’ve put together 10 ways to “go green” that are realistic for growing families and actually save me time and energy- two things that as a parent are a rare commodity.
I’m not usually a New Year’s resolution kind of guy but this year I’m making a huge one. For all of 2017 I won’t buy anything new. That’s right, nothing new at all.
I should say this won’t be nearly as challenging for me as it would be for most people. I’ve been simplifying my life for about 5 years now and have drastically reduced my needs and consumption during this time. I own fewer than 111 possessions, have a net worth of just a few thousand dollars, and practice a mostly zero waste life. Because of this I already buy very little stuff and I’m very happy and comfortable this way. However buying NOTHING NEW FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR will be a whole new ball game for me. Nothing new for a week would be easy. Nothing new for a month would take a little preparation. But nothing new for a year is uncharted territory for me. I’m raising my sail and sailing far away from consumerism. I’m not sure if I’ll be 100% successful in this endeavor but I will be 100% transparent. For those who want to stay informed I’ll be posting a monthly blog and will let you know if I make exceptions or mistakes. I will list out every single new item I purchase if I do.
Trying to go zero waste in a low income area neighborhood vs. a wealthy neighborhood can result in two very different stories. To read a guide written by someone in downtown posh Manhattan that only sees zero waste through their own lens could prove to be a little disappointing for someone living in a low income area. I often hear that going zero waste is only something that wealthy people can do. For the most part I disagree with this statement however there is some truth in it. In certain ways going zero waste is much easier for people who live in wealthier neighborhoods that have more options. For example many low income areas don’t have easy access to a grocery store with a bulk refill section and thus have to buy more packaged foods. This one variable alone makes it much more difficult to zero waste grocery shop.
Wild fermentation is a lost art in our generation and the truth is that it is an inexpensive and accessible way for just about anyone to eat healthy. Wild fermentation is used to preserve fresh foods and at the same time cultivate beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. Some of the ferments you find at the store may be extremely expensive, but making your own fermented foods and drinks makes them very inexpensive and accessible. Making your own foods at home can reduce the cost to a fraction of commercial items. Eating naturally fermented foods that are rich in probiotics and vitamins is a great way to add beneficial nutrition and delicious flavor to your diet. It’s a myth that you have to be wealthy to eat healthy. If you grow your own vegetables, some of your favorite fermented treats can be practically free.
This blog and video series serves as an introduction to creating five different at-home wild ferments with a few of my favorite recipes. All of the ferments I cover here require minimal set-up, yet take some time to naturally cultivate. These ferments are very simple for anyone to make because in general, nature does the work. You don’t need any fancy ingredients or equipment for any of these recipes.
The information here is designed to get you started and show how easy it really is. However, the videos and this blog will not answer every question you have about fermenting. If you want to learn more beyond these basic recipes and videos, I would recommend finding some resources online and books for that.
Here are some resources:
I’ve dived into over 2,000 dumpsters in over 25 states across the USA. By now I’ve pulled out tens of thousands of dollars worth of perfectly good food. Most of it I’ve given away but I’ve also lived solely off food from grocery store dumpsters for months at a time. My mission is to raise awareness about food waste and to reduce food waste and hunger in the USA. I don’t see dumpster diving as THE solution to food waste or hunger but at the same time I figure if the foods going to waste right now, why not eat it? Dumpster diving is not a global solution but for thousands of people it is an individual solution to reduce their environmental impact and feed themselves. So for those of you out there interested in saving a ton of money on food, reducing your environmental impact, or sharing a huge bounty of food with your friends and people in need I’m here to help with that. After 3 years of dumpster diving here are my top 10 tips to dumpster diving success.
Meet Austen Hughes. He’s about to embark on an epic adventure.
Starting this month he’s setting out to travel to each of the 50 US states, running 50 miles and planting 50 trees in each state. That’s 2,500 trees and 2,500 miles of running. And he’s doing all of this while producing less than one pound of landfill waste per month and generating zero edible food waste for the entire trip.
I’m excited to announce that I’m cycling across the USA for the 3rd time. But what I’m really excited to announce is that YOU ARE INVITED. The first thing that might come to mind is “I couldn’t possibly keep up.” Well, great news for you, my partner, Cheryl Davies, is the co-host of this ride and she’s never rode more than 30 miles in a day. If she can do it, so can you!