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.
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!
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.
At the age of 29, I now own fewer possessions than I’ve ever owned in my entire life. After years of downsizing I have achieved one of my long-sought-after goals of being able to fit everything I own into a backpack that fits comfortably on my back. It has been a long road of transition making continual progress little by little.
As many of you know I recently left The Teeny Greeny after living there for one year. I auctioned it off to raise money for tiny homes for people with no homes and raised enough to build ten tiny houses. That project is in the works now by friends in San Diego. Upon selling my home I got rid of a vast majority of my possessions and now own just over 100 possessions. I am carrying literally everything that I own on my back. I’ve been working for many years on simplifying my life and this is truly a milestone for me. I’ve found that generally the fewer possessions that I own the happier and more free of a human being that I am. At the same time, the more simply I live the more I am able to dedicate myself to the service of other people, animals, and the earth. Before moving to The Teeny Greeny I became 100% debt and bill free and I’ve maintained that to this date and intend to continue on in this fashion. I am now vastly free of material possessions, a set location, and financial ties. These accomplishments have made way for me to pursue one of my ultimate dreams of living a life that is deeply in the service of others.