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 than111 possessions, have anet worth of just a few thousand dollars, and practice amostly 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.
Welcome to the FAQ for Trash Me. Here I cover all of the questions people have been asking. Before diving into the questions though I’d like to explain the project in a little more depth to help you understand what I did and why.
For 30 days I wore every single piece of trash that I created while living like the average American in terms of consumerism. The average American creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day and I aimed to live the lifestyle that results in this. Normally I aim to live a near zero waste lifestyle so this is not a lifestyle that I am accustomed to. But for the 30 days I went about life in a manner that is very normal in the USA. I ate, shopped, and consumed like so many of us are accustomed to in this country. The only big difference is that I had to wear every piece of trash that I created instead of putting it into a garbage can.
Most people never think twice about their trash. Once it’s in the garbage can, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Many of us have seen photos and videos of overflowing landfills, oceans littered with trash, animals with plastic stuck around their bodies, and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic, but few of us see past these visuals to our personal connection to it. By wearing all of my trash for 30 days the idea is to create a shocking and unforgettable visual of how much trash just one person creates so that people can understand that they are actually a part of these issues. Once the conversation has been started and people are thinking about it I hope to inspire people to make positive changes in their lives to create less trash.
We live in an era when it’s so easy to have no idea of how any of our daily actions impact our community, humankind, other species, or the earth as a whole. I’m always looking for ways to get people to think about how their actions affect the world around them both near and far. I try to keep things very entertaining so that it reaches people whether they care about the environmental or social issue that I’m focusing on. Because we live in such a visually oriented generation I look for visual ways to make a point or grab people’s attention. For bringing attention to how much trash we create I thought what better way to than to wear it on me everywhere I go. No out of sight out of mind mentality is possible that way!
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.
Today is day 30, the last day of my month in Bankhead of eating healthy on just $4/day. The idea was to see if it is possible to afford healthy food in an area where accessibility and cost are great issues. For the sake of this particular blog I am focusing solely on the issues of cost and accessibility and leaving aside the other issues such as time. I will get into that still in other blogs and in the guide that I make but I think it is wise to just discuss the issue of money in this particular blog which is a big enough barrier in itself for many people.
The following are photos of almost all of the food that I purchased this month. Some is missing but this comprises about 90% of it and represents it all very well. The photos show the cost, the store I purchased the food at, and the date purchased.
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!
This isn’t any old bike ride though. We are the Green Riders, cycling in the service of the many good people of our nation. All across the country we will be helping others to grow their own food and live more sustainably. We’ll be starting gardens at people’s homes, at schools, and in the communities of small towns and urban cities in every state that we pass through. Plus we’ll be Freestyle Gardening all over the country! Each place that we pass through will be left a slightly better place than we found it.
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.
Today is day 19 of my Eating Healthy on $4/Day project and I have not posted an update since day 6 on July 13th. I want to apologize for the total lack of updates. I have been working really, really hard over here and learning an incredible amount. I just have not been writing it publicly. The main goal of this was to create a tool guide from the month long experience and I have been making great progress with it. All is well here, I have only positive things to say about the experience and I am SUPER excited to share what I have been learning this month. We are eating super healthy and every day I am seeing that it is possible to eat healthy on just $4/day even in areas where accessibility is an issue. My daily journaling online has disappeared but I will catch that back up in the next few days and continue forward with daily journals this week.