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.
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!
Day 21 – July 28th 2016
Today Cheryl and I had to do laundry so we walked down to Da Wash House on Joseph E. Boone Blvd. It was about a mile walk down streets of Bankhead that we have not been to yet. This place truly is fascinating. As much as half of the houses and apartment buildings are abandoned and falling apart. The major difference between vacancy here and in an upper income neighborhood is that there the buildings are maintained. Here they are being left to be absorbed back into the earth by nature. The trees are growing wild, the vines are creeping into every opening of the house, and animals and insects have turned the nooks and crannies into their own homes. Many are boarded up to keep people out and to keep people from living in them. Others have wide open doors and windows while some have entirely open sides of the house.
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.
Day 4 – July 11th
Before going to bed last night I said to Cheryl, “Let’s go to Walmart tomorrow.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I was taken aback. I never expected those words to come out of my mouth again after I made the choice to stop giving them business a few years ago. But I feel that this project calls for it. Millions of people shop at Walmart for groceries and some people around the country have told me that it’s their only “grocery store” nearby. This is also where much of the community of Bankhead gets their groceries so it’s a must see.
As the night was coming to an end yesterday, gunshots rang out nearby in the neighborhood. I knew they weren’t really close by and it was probably just someone playing with a gun, but it put both Cheryl and I on edge. Laying in bed after a late night I was soothed by the boisterous sound of crickets chirping in the patch of woods behind us. James said that in a few years the patch would be cleared to make way for condominiums. I was sad to hear this. There are a lot of changes taking place here in Bankhead. From what I’ve learned the last years have been a very tough time on the community. Off the main road, there are as many abandoned and run down houses as there are lived in houses. I saw plots of land hundreds of yards long where apartment buildings once stood, now just a dumping site for trash and tires. Giselle said that a lot of people couldn’t continue to pay for their houses due to financial hardships, which is apparent in the number of crumbling and vacant buildings. It’s a sad state to see so much go to waste and so many dreams crumble but there is a sense of beauty in seeing nature take back the land. The houses are growing over in trees and there is more green in this neighborhood than I’ve seen in many.