Tennesseetransitions


Not Buying It

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted on this blog and I think that’s because I’m going through a bit of a transition on my own and it’s taking me in new and unexpected, yet exciting, directions. In spite of my personal journey, the complex factors surrounding the trilogy of Peak Oil, Climate Change and World Economics have only gotten worse since I began writing about them five years ago. I’m not buying into the rhetoric that mainstream media offers me about these life-altering issues either. The members of the G-7 Summit earlier this week did reach a few conclusions though: Russian Embargoes will become worse, ISIS will become worse and Climate Change will become worse. Really?? These seemingly unsolvable problems serve only to inspire me to write more, rather than remain silent. It’s in the quiet time spent researching and writing that I find my own answers as to how to live more on less. Notice I didn’t say “how to HAVE more on less”.

I’ve spent the last 15 years happily obtaining many of the things that Michael and I needed to set ourselves up as ‘radical homemakers’, mostly via reusing and rehoming, buying new only those things needed to have good food, clean water, reliable transportation and shelter. We did buy a new car and a new freezer along the way;  the former because we were having trouble getting parts for our old car, (since Saturn’s weren’t being made any longer) and the latter because our gardening skills had improved so much over the years that we simply needed a way to better preserve all that organic goodness and I just couldn’t find a reliable used one last August when I realized the need had become a matter of ‘freeze it or lose it.’ We’re counting on the car, the freezer and the bicycles we bought 4 years ago to last the rest of our lives with proper care, as well as the wood stove, sewing machine, greenhouse, grain mill, food dehydrator and water filter system. I just don’t understand the constant need to buy stuff. Once you’re set up with the needed tools for living, almost everything else except underwear and eyeglasses can be found used AND locally as well.

pete seeger

There’s a cooperative that started in San Francisco back in 2005 whose members pledged to go 365 days without buying anything new. Their vows were called ‘The Compact’. That Compact became a movement of people that are simply trying to bring less stuff into their homes. In the process, they’ve all improved the quality of their lives, saved a ton of money and inadvertently kept many of the Earth’s precious resources from being wasted. Many of them are still ‘not buying it’, almost 10 years later. 

Save!

In addition to buying stuff, it seems economic growth is not just a goal in the West- it’s a religion; but I’m not buying that either. Infinite growth is simply not sustainable. Period. End of discussion. We MUST create ways and means of living that are more in line with a steady state economy.  A steady state economy is a truly green economy. It aims for stable population and stable consumption of energy and materials at sustainable levels. 

A reader wrote to me today to tell me that my blog “…is a reminder of what can meaningfully be done here and now in the face of a civilization in decline…”.  He likes “concrete examples of coping and preparing, joyfully, for the inevitable.” Sometimes concrete examples can be hard to come by in this transition business, but the “coping and preparing joyfully”  is a state of mind that actually develops as you transition to a life that is based on the concept that less is more. Whether that’s by eliminating your debt, learning some skills necessary for repairing and reusing your stuff so you don’t have to buy more stuff, or simply decluttering your life and home, a ‘steady state economy’ in our personal lives can truly be joyful. I’ll buy that!

less-is-more

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3 Comments so far
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I’ve discovered a little thing in my town, but very important to the concept of saving money and what about “stuff”. There’s a thrift store here connected to a church, and all the money raised there stays in our community and helps people of lower income. (a free produce program, our food bank, as examples) They will take almost anything that’s still usable, and they keep their prices so low that anybody could afford to go there and buy things they need. We don’t have much organized thought going on here about sustainability and living with less, but a couple things up and working is still a start. This was an excellent blog, but yours always are!

Comment by sarasinart

Doesn’t it just make sense, in EVERY way possible, to repurpose, resell and reuse useful items? There’s an apt house next to mine and when people move in or out the trash is always filled with their still-good castoffs. I cherry pick of course, then take the rest to the nearby Good Samaritan thrift store b/c the money they raise in that store feeds folks and they give clothing vouchers too to people that can’t afford to buy clothing. win win I think towns everywhere are seeing the value of recycling goods in this way, and I’m glad yours is too!

Comment by simpleintn

It makes sense to a lot of people, but not enough. We are a college town and you wouldn’t believe the amount of good stuff the students throw away each year. A town down the road, 22 miles away, has started a process where they go and gather all that stuff up and have a low cost sale of the items. I wish our town did something like that. We are such a throw away society, all in the name of convenience, and our younger generation are definitely members of the throw away society.

Comment by sarasinart




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