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.
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 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 up 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.
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.
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!
My aim in life is to be a genuine leader in order to affect massive positive change in the USA and around the world. I am 29 as I write this and I know that this won’t happen overnight. I am dedicating myself to a lifetime of work in the service of humanity, the earth, and the creatures that we share our home planet with. In order to truly lead by example I feel that it is important to make personal commitments and I am making them public so that I have no choice but to stick to them. It’s very easy to say you’re going to do something and then go back on it. By making my commitments clear and in print I am helping to make sure that I will stick to them in possible times of temptation or despair. These vows also intend to show an example of how we can dedicate ourselves to something far greater than ourselves and live a life that is truly in alignment with the beliefs that the world should be a more sustainable and just place.
I vow to…
When people talk about sustainable businesses the truth is that these businesses are far from sustainable. Most, if not all, of the major companies that have sustainability directors are as far from sustainable as it gets. They may be decreasing their environmental impact a little bit here and a little bit there but they just will never be sustainable. In this article I present to you businesses that are truly sustainable. These are businesses that will truly make your community and the world a better place. There is no green washing here and if these businesses are done correctly there will be no green washing in any of them. The idea of this blog isn’t just to inspire people to start sustainable businesses though. It’s really about helping people to figure out how they can support a sustainable life. None of these businesses are about getting rich. They are about finding a way to do something that you love and support your needs while living a life that is beneficial to the earth, your community, and yourself rather than destructive to the earth and the life on it. These business ideas, with a few exceptions, are designed to decrease consumption rather than increase it. For example selling organic cotton t-shirts is sort of great but the truth is there are already enough t-shirts on earth and we don’t need any more. These business ideas go a few steps further than a business idea like that.
Many of you may be wondering what my financial situation is. I get asked about my relationship with money a lot, which makes sense since most of us feel that we need enough money to be able to really pursue our passions. I believe that I am living proof that that is just not true.
One year ago, I shared a story titled “This woman is dumpster diving her way through her PhD” She was living completely off food from dumpsters while earning her PhD and also started up a food rescue program to donate food to people in need.
She struck me as a really noteworthy person doing wonderful things for her community and the earth. We’ve stayed in touch during that time and I’ve seen her continuing her path of simplifying her life and dedicating more of her time to others and the betterment of society. Today I am happy to bring to you a guest blog written by Liselotte on what she has been up to for the last year!
Check out this farm! They are completely off the grid, grow about 70% of their own food, send absolutely no trash off their land, and they grow over 200 edible and useful plants on their farm! Plus, they have chickens for eggs, meat chickens, pigs, and goats. They practice permaculture principles and are truly working with the land, rather than against it. You can walk around this farm for hours, always coming upon new naturally growing things to eat, or make healing teas from.