Jim & I learned to live small while sailing our boat to the Bahamas from Lake Ontario. We found that the most expensive and high energy using thing on board was our fridge. So over the side it went! (Actually, we just never installed it, some-one gave us a few bucks for it, poor slobs!) We found that my chef-type skills were up to the challenge, although you’re only as good as your food source, (read: US small towns don’t really have a great fruit & veg department).
We now live in a 500 sq. foot house quite similar to our boat: no fridge. No running water. PV electric panels work great especially when you just plain old don’t NEED.
I heat and cook with wood which I fetch from nearby woods, usually dead or down.
I grow almost all my food, using no commercial fertilizers or poisons. I get a nearby farmer to deliver a dumptruck load of manure yearly. Sometimes he can’t, so now my 10 hens are in a house I built them and I use the henhouse cleanings as excellent fertilizer.
I mow the lawns with a simple push mower. I rake up the mowings for mulch.
I drive an old VW Jetta that nobody wanted because some of the gears don’t work. It doubles as a pickup with the back seat down. (I’m always picking up something like dirty hay from the barn, buckets of decaying woodchips, firewood, restaurant waste for the hens…)
I go to town (8 miles over hills, otherwise perhaps I’d bike) once a week. I could go less often but I have a son with financial problems which require me to go to his workplace and collect his paycheck every week.
When I’m going to town I ask a neighbor if he needs anything.
I go to bed early and get up early.
I read books from the nearby library.
I rarely buy new clothes (you don’t need to look too good when you never go anywhere).
I work hard all day, so at night I’m too tired to need much entertainment.
I help a nearby dairy farmer whenever he needs me (no pay, but I get all the milk I can drink, as well as occasional packages of hamburger, tongue, liver).
I write letters. (I only have internet when I have children living at home, as now).
I make jams or dried fruit for Christmas presents. People love it.
Of course I hang-dry my laundry. In the winter I hang it in the house, it puts moisture in the air.
I build what I can, I fix what I can. This is very rewarding.
When I do buy new things I try to get excellent quality so they will last. For example, right now I am about to buy three new gardening tools (mine are finally busted), they all have lifetime guarantees.
On the rare occasions when I get sick I drink nettle tea (from nettles I pick and dry) or eat cayenne (from peppers I grow and dry).
I appreciate the beauty around me.
Don’t think you can’t do this. I’m a 60-year old mother of five.
we are an artist and a musician working together to maximize the amount of time we’ve got to do our work (which happens to be very much inspired by sustainability and reconnecting with nature) by having very few expenses. we’re living in a 14′ travel trailer while we build a 15′ square cabin on some land in the high desert – the climate here is mild, so we need little in the way of heating and cooling, and we’re able to grow lots of our own food. my art studio runs on $500 worth of solar equipment (including panels and batteries). we made a refrigerator that burns a minuscule amount of energy simply by changing the thermostat on an old chest freezer we found next to a dumpster. much more info on our blog at http://www.theobviousobserver.com.
Our family enjoys the tropical paradise of Honolulu and yet as an island we do all we can to buy local and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We replaced our two Volvos with one Prius. We have planted our own ‘square foot’ gardens with seed plants from the university. All our exterior lighting is solar; and all interior CFLs. We eat dinners on outside by the light of our solar lights. We compost kitchen wastes and all green waste. All of our home improvements start with visits to Re-use Hawaii (a demolition-recycler). We still buy the latest and greatest Apple products, but we try to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Our students in 11th and 12th grades are taking a two-week low-impact challenge. Right now they’re doing individual challenges, but as a school, we’re using no non-essential electric lights. So the lights have been off in the high school for over a week now, and it’s been very nice. The principal commented on how calming it was.
We’d also like to be on the blogroll! Our blog is linked above. Can you add us?
We all know how much a human being polutes, so this is the BEST you can do to lower impact on a long term.
Let me tell you, life without kids is great: I have a lot of time and I retired at 38 (some money, easy/cheap lifestyle and no kids) which would not be possible with kids. The environment is actually one of the reasons we don’t want kids. We didn’t like to put a child in this already messed up world and implicitely contributing to it.
Just give it a thought before you start having kids; kids might be fun, but also a lot of work, and life without them is not actually “better” or “worse”, just different. In our case, we are very happy not having them!
I decided to stop buying the newspaper 3 times a week. Same for magazines (which I was totally addicted to).
My husband and I stopped buying coffee-to-go in paper cups and drink coffee at home.
When I go grocery shopping I take my reusable bags with me and politely decline all plastic bags.
I decided to stop eating red meat.
I decided to try to make my own toning lotion with natural fruit juices and water, instead of buying one full of chemicals (I realized that the one I recently bought at the store was giving me allergies!).
I decided to stop flushing the toilet everytime I use it, and I’m teaching my 3 year old daughter to do the same.
I decided to stop buying harmful cleaning products and use borax, bicarbonate and vinegar instead.
That’s all for now, but I’m planning to do a lot more in the near future…Which is a huge challenge here in the DR because here NOBODY lifts a finger to protect the environment. There is no recycling, no organic food, and people don’t have a clue about ecology…SCARY!
My family recently purchased a share in a local farm, Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). For a very reaasonable price we will be recieving local, organic produce from a farm right here in Colorado! We will be eating what is fresh and in season. The produce is brought just a few short miles to a neghborhood very close by and distrubuted to the shareholders in the area. We receive a share of fresh fruit and veggies once a week from June all the way to December. We own a share in the farm and are invited to events and to get to know our local farmers personally. We are even invited to work on the farm. I feel this is a HUGE help not only ecologically but economically. When we buy a share we are suppporting the local organic farmers, what could be better!
If you are interested go to localharvest.org to find a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) farm to participate in
I am quitting my addiction to food wrapped in individual packages.
I found a website called reusablebags.com and have decided to start buying food in bulk at my local co-op using reusable bags, taking my lunch to work in reusable containers, and doing whatever else necessary to eliminate the number of plastic bags/containers I throw in the bin. My goal is to get down to less than 1/2 bag of trash per week.
Truthfully, I think using my own bags for food might be a healthier alternative to using the plastic. Who knows where those bags came from and how they were processed.
I am writing on behalf of my mom, who does not own or know how to use a computer. While reading “No Impact Man” I would sometimes read portions out loud to my mom, Angela. As a result, before she even began reading the book on her own (which she just finished), she decided to start by separating her trash.She NEVER recycled anything before. Just by separating her trash she reduced the number of 13 gallon garbage bags in her trash from 7 per week (for 1-2 people mind you) to 3 and sometimes 2! She started reading the book and now she does not line her smaller plastic garbage cans with plastic bags anymore, and she has cut down on her paper towel usage, which was unbelievably high, by using reusable cloths instead.She’s probably saving about 500 paper towels a month from going into the landfill. The best part for her was knowing there is something she actually CAN do to make a difference. And she has only just begun.