My last Nothing New for a Year blog came out on February 12, 2017 and was the journal of my first month of buying nothing new for an entire year. Here it is September 1st, and 6 months have passed without a new blog. I was planning on doing a monthly blog about this experience, but that completely got away from me. It’s safe to say I have been overly busy for a good portion of this year.
I am going to catch you up to date in a series of two blogs. This one will include February through May, including three weeks in Florida, six weeks in Costa Rica, and a seven-week speaking tour in Europe. The next blog will document my bicycle ride across the United States. A lot happened in both, so I could easily have split this up into more blogs, but I’ll go with that for the sake of finally catching up.
There are many limiting ideas floating around out there about growing your own food. Many think you need a lot of money to do it. Some think it’s too time consuming. Some think they don’t have enough space. Others feel that they just don’t have a green enough thumb. All of these ideas are totally understandable but the reality is that if we really truly want to, we can all grow some food. Sure, we can’t all have a fruitful acre of farm land but we can all have at least one little windowsill herb garden, one balcony tomato plant, some planters on our porch, a plot in a community garden, a small garden on someone else’s unused land, or something of that sort. With some initiative we can all grow some food!
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 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.
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.
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.