May 27, 2017

The Good Life

This little person, and her friend, know how to live.

“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.”  

- Jim Henson

Does it get any better than this? I think not. This is the good life.

Our inner child craves the simple life that we all knew when young and still relatively unblemished by culture. A time when a puddle, a feathery friend and blossoms everywhere made for a moment of perfection.

A time when playing and simply living was our major focus.

A simple life allows time to play and be.

Find a puddle. Jump up and down. Enjoy it with a friend.

This is the good life, that is attainable by all.

“Everything seemed possible, when I looked through the eyes of a child.
And every once in a while; I remember,
I still have the chance to be that wild.” 
- Nikki Rowe

May 25, 2017

Do Nothing

People are always in a rush to do something, anything. But sometimes doing nothing is a viable alternative that should be considered.

If you are bleeding profusely, you probably need medical intervention. However, in my experience, things like aches and pains often go away on their own if one is patient.

Even though we have universal health care in Canada, I try to stay away from doctors as much as possible. The average "medical professional" will want to do something even if doing nothing is the way to go. Sometimes the cure is worse than the issue at hand.

Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) in the US, a statistic that reflects what can happen in any modern medical system with a do-something-at-any-cost mentality. And the cost of these errors in the US? 1 trillion dollars per year.

"It has taken a lot to prove to [the medical community] that many of these deaths are not a natural consequence of the underlying disease. They are purely failures of the system." 
- Ashish Jha, MD, Harvard School of Public Health

I have often found that things I initially thought were problems, given the passage of time, were not anything I needed to do something about. The problem fixes itself without my intervention, or I discover that I was wrong, and no problem existed in the first place.

Either way, nothing needed to be done.

The best is when you do have a problem, then wait patiently, and find that the problem fixes itself. It can happen. Often, vehicle issues fall under this category. Linda and I call this "self-fixing", and it has happened often in the vehicles we have owned. Only once have we ever been stranded at the side of the road. At that point it was time to do something.

I have to wonder if self-fixing has something to do with the power of thoughts, quantum mechanics, and the underlying reality of the Universe. What if we are way more powerful than we think?

Or when one has a broken heart. What is to be done? Nothing. Be patient and let time work its magic.

If you have a gash in your skin and you are bleeding all over the place, you should do something about it, and right away. But we do not always need to spring into action for every perceived "problem".

In the right situations, all we need to do is give ourselves permission to do nothing.

May 22, 2017

Simple Living Manifesto

Many problems, one passionate solution - voluntary simplicity.

I am living simply in order to learn some truths about the world and myself. I am living simply to oppose the forces of a brutal and violent exploitation of people and planet. I fight with gentleness and kindness born by keeping my expectations realistic and wholesome.

Living a simple life liberates me from the lies and myths of the dominant consumer culture. In stripping my life to the essentials, I take back my birthright as a free human and can share my discoveries with as little interference as possible.

I will rethink everything I have been taught, and remember what I am doing here on this beautiful planet, at this beautiful moment in time. Simplicity is as close to perfection as we can get.

This is why I will continue to maintain a simple life: to eliminate all manufactured distractions, to live slowly and deliberately, to really live and feel. I will not be a cog in their machine and support a dead end way of life. I will not be part of the shopping dead.

I want my life to be an example to others. I want my message to be one of possibilities, freedom, and connection. I want to blow away the unnecessary and replace it with the essential. I want to live and speak freely.

Our success isn’t measured in money, or possessions, or fame. The success game has always been rigged in order to keep us in line and exhibiting culturally appropriate behaviours that support a corrupted and broken system. I may not have much, but am I enjoying life? Am I challenging myself to take advantage of all events to learn and become a better person? Am I living in the moment? Do I feel at peace and harmony? Do I feel the freedom that all of humanity should be enjoying?

I don’t live simply in order to save the world. That is a tall order for one person. I live this way to plumb the depths of reality minus the filter of cultural programming, and belittling propaganda. That will save me. I might be able to help others save themselves. Then, when we reach a critical mass, our simple lives will affect everything.

I have decided that the best possible life comes from tapping into the universal wisdom, from living fearlessly and with the utmost integrity, without apology or explanation. You do not need stuff to do that.

I believe a simple life is armour against a global assault that tries to force us to feel small and insignificant. We are neither. I share this simple living manifesto to inspire, and remind all people of the freedom and joy that can be had when you choose simplicity as your way of life. It represents the path back to an empowered citizenship, connection, and contentment.

A simple life that is materially sparse, but spiritually rich, opens the door to experience life without limits, as it is meant to be lived. Refusing to participate in the destruction that is the modern, consumer dream allows one to return to participating in the creative side of things, to be an artist again. Through making your life your art, the truth will be revealed, and it will be amazing.

Against all odds, we must fight the forces of progress for profit with voluntary simplicity. The time to act is getting shorter every day. The best time to start living a more simple, enjoyable life is now. This very moment.

Get started, and transform your life. In the process, we will transform the world.

May 20, 2017

Seedy Saturday

Old buckets found in a midden on our property, holding radish seed pods.

This weekend has traditionally been the time to plant a garden in most of Canada. Climate change is altering that a bit, with spring weather often coming one or two weeks earlier than usual. Our garden was planted a week ago, so this weekend we are sitting back and watching it germinate. 

While we wait for that magical moment when sprouts reaching for the sun break out of the soil, we are enjoying watching the green and growing garlic sway and play in the wind. We also have a couple of last years kale plants that we are growing for a second season in order to harvest some seeds this fall. 

Mmmm. Seeds. Magical packages of potential. Food for stomach and soul.

A carton of seeds, anyone? Left to right - marigold, radish, summer savoury, cilantro.

Last fall I collected a bunch of different seeds beyond what we needed to save for this year. I kept them around because they were so beautiful that I didn't want to compost them right away. It doesn't seem right to dispose of seeds. 

Any seeds. Ever. 

Today's seed hoarders are tomorrow's seed stores. Plus seeds are all so unique and beautiful in their own right. And many can be eaten - beans, and peas, and squash seeds (lightly salted, and baked with a bit of olive oil) for example.

Come on seeds, we're cheering for you. 

Note: I shouldn't joke about seed hoarding since it could be a potentially harmful situation, like any other hoarding behaviour. See here for a Seed Hoarders Anonymous thread on a gardening website. 

When I visited there, I noticed there was an advertisement for seeds at the top of the page... probably not a good idea. But there are some amazing stories there if you want to quell the urge to buy a bunch of seeds you don't need or can't afford. Free seeds? Well, that's a different story. 

May 17, 2017

Staying At Home

In a consumer society all the good stuff is "out there". The thing to do is go out and get it, whatever it is. Staying home is not recommended. You can't spend money and access the good stuff if you don't go out.

Fear of missing out is one way they pry us out of our comfy nests. If you don't go out, you will miss out. They want us out and about as much as possible. This is because when one goes out, one must spend money.

"Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands,
or your own genuine solitude?
Freedom, or the power over an entire nation? 
A little while alone in your room
will prove more valuable than anything else
that could ever be given you" 
- Rumi 

Go to a movie. Go out for food. Go to a concert. Go to a bar. Go for coffee. Go for a vacation. Go to town. Go shopping. Go here, go there. Go, go, go. Buy, buy, buy. Repeat.

Don't go to a park, that is free. If you do, buy something to take with you first.

Instead of going out, we should spend more time staying at home and going in. The answers are not "out there". The answers don't cost anything. Freedom is here at home.

Don't be afraid - you aren't missing anything by not going out, and you may gain everything by spending a little time alone in the comfort of your own home.

May 15, 2017

Why Isn't There A Maximum Income?

22K Gold Toilet Paper - $1.3M a roll

There is a lot of talk about providing workers with a minimum income. You know, an income that a person can actually live on. But why isn't there any talk about a maximum income?

Because it would kill innovation and motivation? Wrong. Curious people with their integrity intact would continue on as if money didn't even exist. Science started with an attitude of inquiry and a desire to improve life. Not patents or profit.

People rarely use large profits for good. Money should be seen as a curse beyond a certain point. Too little is not good. Too much is even worse because invariably it will be used in ways not conducive to planetary health.

“Do the very rich suffer from maladjusted conditions that lead them to accumulate more than they could ever need, or are they just greedy and selfish?”    
- Ontario Coalition Against Poverty leaflet

Look at the evidence. The rich over consume to the point of ridiculosity. Does one really need gold plated anything?  The conspicuous consumption and greed of the money hoarders infects everything, leading to social strife and environmental degradation.

Therefore, why not a maximum income?

It would most definitely enable a minimum income for all workers and their families, and avoid the corrosive effects of income inequality, and the struggles of the working poor.

What would be fair at the top end of the wealth spectrum? 1 million/year? 1 Billion/year? A trillion?
How much would be enough?

Research shows that somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000 is the income sweet spot. Any less and life might be a struggle, any more and the extra fails to increase happiness.

That sounds about right, although from personal experience I know that one can get by on much less and be happy and content.

May 14, 2017

Thanks, Moms

The sun rise this morning from our high point in Digby County, Nova Scotia.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Margaret. And to Linda's mom, Belle.

Happy Mother's Day to your mom, (insert name here).

Happy Mother's Day to you, (insert name here), if you are a mom.

And Happy Mother's Day to OUR mother - Gaia.

May 13, 2017

Distressed Bucket For Distressed Chives

Since moving from the west coast in 2014, I have lived on an old potato farm just above the ocean in Nova Scotia. There is an ancient disposal system that comes with a property like this, a sign of the times and the evolution of waste disposal.

Yes, across the field, down  a slight slope, then just into the forest, and one finds several small middens.

Midden is a Swedish word meaning "an old dump for domestic waste", and that is what I came across while exploring the margin of the woods. For someone that loves sourcing found things for free, the midden is a treasure trove of vintage discoveries.

In these piles I have found mostly glass and rusted metal, but in the top-most layers a new material makes its ugly and permanent appearance - plastic. It is the most uninteresting and unattractive stuff in the piles.

I also found a vehicle licence plate from 1954, and that was toward the top of the pile, so the midden may be older than that. Considering the European presence here since the 1600s, it could be much older.

The items that drew my attention were several galvanized metal buckets in various states of breakdown. Some were squished, others rusted through. But they all looked beautiful to me, and I needed something for some stressed out chives planted in an unattractive broken plastic container, left here by the previous renters.

I'm not much of a decorator, but from what I know, distressed is de rigour "whether your style is primitive, modern, or shabby chic".  Even better if you style is like mine: found and free.

Next midden rescue project? A large group of intact vintage canning jars.

May 12, 2017

Hedonism vs Helping

NBA reader JC asked a good question in a comment in response to my post "Living As If The Planet Really Is Collapsing". If we are in a state of collapse, why do anything? This is an excellent question that is probably being asked a lot right now, all around the globe.

Here is my take.

At this point we can do one of two things.

A. Take 60s rock star Jim Morrison's hedonic advice:

I don't know what's gonna happen, man,  but I wanna have my kicks before the whole shit house goes up in flames.

Four years earlier he wrote The End in which he said:

“What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister? 
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her.  
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn, 
And tied her with fences and,  
dragged her down.”

He could obviously see trouble coming, even back then, and made his choice about how to respond - in a typical rock and roll fashion.

Fast forward to 2017, and it seems that many people are choosing the hedonistic route, deciding to get their kicks, and not concern themselves with the consequences.

But when has that ever worked for us? Morrison was dead by 27.

When you choose Option A you will get the same result as any other hedonic pursuit - instant, but short lived gratification, and a further deepening of the problems to which one is responding.

The other option is:

B. Choose to help. Do something to improve the world in spite of evidence which shows it might already be too late, because what if it is not?

Even if it is, choosing B is a more mindful and joyous way to live. Choosing B is not giving up. B is right living and setting limits, even when no one is forcing you to do so. Self-control and delaying gratification leads to lasting happiness and improved feelings of self worth.

It is possible that eventually the problems will be solved. Maybe unlikely, but possible.

Each of us must decide our own response. I have made my choice. It will be interesting to see what everyone else decides as we circle the drain.

May 10, 2017

The Garden Zone

The soil is prepared, and the seeds are out. This week we enter another dimension, and plant the garden.

You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of soil and seeds but of creation itself. A journey into a wondrous land whose broad boundaries are that of Nature. Your next stop, the Garden Zone!

We have a raised bed garden, so when I go into the garden, I really go into the garden. Mentally I step into another dimension. Everything else goes away except my shovel, the soil, worms, and unbounded potential.

And the black flies, which are little teachers of keeping one's focus.

The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the Garden Zone could be your journey.

Let's grow together, and allow abundance to reign.

Thank you to Rod Serling and Mother Nature for making this post possible.

May 8, 2017

Living As If The Planet Really Is Collapsing

What if scientists are right and the planet's systems really are under threat of collapse, or are already in a state of collapse? What if humans were the major cause of that?

Based on an evaluation of more than 1,000 previous studies, a new meta-review by an international group of 18 scientists suggests the Earth is perilously close to a tipping point where resource consumption, ecosystem degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth will trigger massive changes in the biosphere. 
- From: Scientists Tip 2025 for Possible Planetary Collapse

How would one live if this were true?

After writing this blog since 2008, and reading over 5000 comments left by readers (often filled with simple living related ideas and links), it is easy for me to riff off a few ideas. More than likely you have a few of your own. Please do share them in a comment below.

Living As If The Planet Is Collapsing

  • no flights
  • driving only when necessary, using a shared car if possible
  • eat a plant based diet
  • live and buy locally
  • conserve energy/resources at home
  • use a laundry line
  • ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation
  • work at a job that provides right livelihood
  • share things with neighbours
  • demand an end to all funding for war
  • go carbon free
  • promote the adoption of a steady state economy (no growth)
  • have smaller families, encourage childlessness
  • live in small homes, possibly shared with several generations
  • grow a garden, the bigger the better
  • support revoking the corporate charter of any company found to harm the environment
  • eat food grown through organic agriculture
  • foster cooperation over competition
  • discourage the accumulation of wealth and conspicuous consumption
  • consume to satisfy needs, not wants
  • enjoy, and be grateful for, every moment we have on this amazing planet
  • be kind

How would one live if the planet were collapsing, putting our very survival at risk?

More like a monk than a millionaire.

“Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. 
With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious.” 
- BBC, in announcing the new series Expedition New Earth in which Hawking explains why he thinks humanity needs to find a "Planet B", pronto

May 3, 2017

Protest Art/Zen MashUp

"Your perspective is not the truth."

This post is a mashup of two simple living related seeds that have been weaving through my life for a few years. I think they are a natural fit, so I sowed them together here for your enjoyment in the rich soils of the garden of your mind.

The first is protest art, this time from The Dark Cellars Project. NBA reader, William, made me aware of TDCP, so a shout out to him for turning my attention in this direction.

I am sharing a few of my favourite pieces, but check out the link below to see many more simplicity-provoking artworks by the artists involved.

The project can be found at the most excellent website The Simplicity Collective, co-directed by Dr. Samuel Alexander, an advocate of degrowth, permaculture, and voluntary simplicity.

"I made a call out for artists and graphic designers to be in touch if they wanted to explore ways to use art and image to unsettle the normality of consumer capitalism and provoke thought about alternative ways to live and be. 
The Dark Cellars are an expanding network of oppositional artists, graphic agitators, renegade marketers, and culture jammers more generally who are using art, design, and image to creatively subvert the structures of meaning which entrench consumer culture and carbon capitalism. 
By exploring a new aesthetics of existence, our defining objective is to open up imaginative and cultural space for new ways to live and be – for ourselves, for others, and for the sake of our fragile planet."

- Dr. Samuel Alexander, The Dark Cellars Project

"What you chase consumes you."

The other part of today's simple living/anti-consumer culture/anti-carbon capitalist mashup are Zen related quotes from the Daily Zen, which can be found on Twitter. I do use Twitter occasionally, and when I do, DZ is a big reason why I check in.

All quotes in this post were sourced at DZ.

"I started Daily Zen in 2008 to share quotes pertaining to my meditation practice and self-directed studies of Eastern philosophy. Twitter had just started and it seemed like a clever outlet for the aphoristic wisdom I found in various spiritual texts.  
The goal of these writings is simply to share my reflections with others.  
Remember— the good life is as simple as paying attention."
- Charlie Ambler, @dailyzen

"When people do not ignore what they should ignore, but ignore what they should not ignore, this is ignorance." 
- Chuang-tzu

"May all beings everywhere be happy and free."

- Mangala Mantra

"We're scared of slowing down because we can't admit to ourselves that many of our activities are silly and unnecessary."

"The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in."

- Rumi

"Compassion requires letting go of our own ego."

"Each moment you have a choice— to be grateful or to want something else. Choose gratitude."

May 1, 2017

International Workers' Day

I got this up a little late, but any day is a good day for a general strike. The neo-feudal plantation bosses need to be reminded of where the real wealth is generated - in the tired, callused hands of the workers.

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get?  
Another day older and deeper in debt." 
- Merle Travis, 16 Tons

“If wars are eliminated and production is organized scientifically, it is probable that four hours’ work a day will suffice to keep everybody in comfort.”  
- Bertrand Russell

“When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is a slavery.”  
- Maxim Gorky

April 30, 2017

NBA Blog - Now Endorsed By Mom

I try not to be motivated by praise or blame. However, in my quest to improve my blog, my self, and my life, feedback is always welcome and appreciated. It was in that vein that I recently received some valuable feedback from one of my most important teachers - my mom.

Recently I was talking to my 80-something, simple living mom on the phone. She told me that she had been visiting Not Buying Anything lately. That alone had me feeling good.

Then she said, "I feel better every time I visit your blog." Oh! Heaven to my ears. Mission accomplished.

Doesn't every son want to help his mother feel better? I know I do, but I never assumed that feeling better might be caused by reading this blog.

Since the inception of NBA, I have tried my hardest to never descend into negativity and cynicism... for too long. Given the subject matter dealt with here, this often feels like a difficult balance to maintain. How does one put a positive spin on the decline of our planet, and the "civilized" world that is causing its demise?

While I am not paying mom for her endorsement (because that would be an advertisement), I thought that maybe her judgment was clouded by her undying love for her second born (out of 5). Would she not say anything, do anything, to help her sons and daughter feel better?

Then this feedback came through in the comment section:

"Linda and Gregg, 

You are free souls and I feel very good to visit NBA." 

It came with this lovely quote from Charles Bukowski, one of my favourite rebel writers.

"The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them."

Mom (and Saffron), that is exactly what I would like all free souls to feel when they visit this blog. It is because of you and other NBA readers, that Linda and I feel better when visiting our own blog. You have us feeling good, very good, to know that you are with us.

Endorsements (non paid) are important bits of feedback. Your support lets me know I am on the right track, tapping in to a bit of the magic that I find while cultivating my simple approach to life, then sprinkling that around the blogosphere.

Things can seem rather unmagical in the world right now, but it would be a mistake to let ones self slide down the slippery sad slope into depression and despair. The world is far too beautiful, mysterious and miraculous for that. Good always out-weighs the not-so-good.

Together we are changing ourselves and our planet, and together we are helping each other maintain sanity in the process. Let it be a cooperative adventure to be savoured and enjoyed. These are precious moments. Thank you for sharing them with us.

And thank you, mom. We feel good when you feel good.

April 28, 2017

First Garlic

We have been off imported garlic for several years thanks to garlic growers in the family (thanks, mom). Garlic by mail has saved us from the low grade bulbs at the grocer. Who knew that Lethbridge, Alberta was a prime garlic growing region?

Seed Garlic. Photo credit: Campbell Garlic

This fall we decided to grow some of our own. We took several large, firm, purple organic bulbs and planted them on a warm fall day in November. We covered them with mulch, tucking them in for the winter.

More have come up since I took this photo.

Warm spring weather allowed the mulch to come off, and look what was happening underneath.

Our first ever garlic crop is up - let the 2017 gardening season begin.

April 26, 2017

Clearing Mental Clutter

It is easier to be happy when you are not surrounded by the confusion and the clutter of life. ~David Baird

Feeling infobese lately? Overwhelmed by faux facts and truthiness? Bundles of bad news? Mental overload is easily achievable in an information age if one is not careful.

Indeed, the most dangerous clutter is not in your home - it is in your head. Mental clutter, like its material counterpart in your home, creates stress. Stress creates illness. No one likes illness.

So how does one go about clearing mental clutter? There are many ways. Here are a few that have worked for me and Linda.


"Self-reflection is the first step to decluttering because it's not about the stuff."
How about stopping the thoughts altogether? One of the main universal methods for clearing mental clutter is meditation. It can be recommended for anyone, and everyone. A few minutes each day of quite time in which one stops the constant flow of outside input, has multiple benefits.

And it is free. All you need is yourself, although a teacher can be beneficial.

Science is even in on it. Findings show that the release of catecholamines and other stress hormones are reduced and parasympathetic activity is increased while subjects are meditating. Spending time in “thoughtless awareness” enables one to dwell in the present moment rather than focus on the unchangeable past or undetermined future.

The result is the excessive stress producing activity of the mind is neutralised while the meditator remains alert and effectively able to navigate life. Peace and compassion remain when the clutter is removed.

Music, Singing, Dancing

“When music and courtesy are better understood and appreciated, there will be no war.”
- Confucius

When I am listening to music and dancing, or playing guitar and singing, or playing guitar, singing and dancing all at the same time, it is impossible to think about anything else. Let the music move you, and the all cares and worries slip away.

Walk in Nature

"Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes." ~Terri Guillemets

Being in nature is good for the body and soul. It is my main method for closing all the unnecessary tabs open in my brain. When I return home I feel refreshed and uplifted. My mind is still, and I can more easily focus on what is most important.

Give In To Your Creative Yearnings

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

We are all creative, despite what some mean teacher may have told you in grade school. The painting above was done when Linda decided to start exploring creativity through watercolour painting. Making art is a naturally immersive activity that replaces fear and doubt, replacing it with a pure flow experience and sense of accomplishment.

Go ahead, pick up the paint brush, or camera, or knitting needles. Cook, bake, build something. Indulge your creative urges - you can do it. It feels great.

Unclutter Something

"There is something immensely therapeutic about clearing your clutter. The reason is that while you are clearing things on an external level, there is a corresponding change going on internally too.... Being clear of clutter is one of the greatest aids I know to manifesting the life you want, and it is absolutely essential if you truly want to know joy and happiness in your life. "~Karen Kingston

Meditation does not have to be static. One can get into a meditative state of mind through movement. Might as well make that movement meaningful and do something that you have been putting off.

Straighten a drawer, clear out a closet, do the laundry or washing up. When you conduct your activity, do it with all your being. Remember to breathe.

Having strategies to clear mental clutter is more important than those that keep your physical possessions in check. Both can be difficult, at first, but both are worthwhile to do. An uncluttered mind is conducive to an uncluttered home, and vice versa.

Choose things that appeal most to you. The important thing is to slow down and cut out all distractions. This could mean any of the suggestions above, or a long, relaxing bath, disconnecting the phone, TV, and Internet, yelling "Stop!", sitting quietly with a kitty in you lap, or taking in deep, cleansing breaths.

You are on your way to better mental, physical and spiritual health. There is no better way of improving yourself and the world around you.

How do you clear your mental clutter?

April 23, 2017

There Is No Planet B

We should quit looking for planets to move to, and fix the one we've got.

Quit something. Start something. DO Something! Anything. Please. There is no Planet B.

Make every day Earth Day. Your children will thank you.

April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day 2017

From: The Earth Day Network

Earth Day 2017’s Campaign is Environmental & Climate Literacy 
Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection. 
Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs 
This Earth Day, gather with your community for an Environmental & Climate Literacy Teach-In or another project focused on education. 

This is also a day to show your support for science-based decision making. Marches are planned globally.

The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.

Happy Earth Day to all Not Buying Anything readers. We are grateful for your support for this blog, and for all things green.

Go Green, and spread the word. Our survival depends on it.

 “We need intense activism along with structural analysis and the building of alternative, sustainable lifestyles. We need wisdom, reverence and creativity that we pull up from the depths of our uncertainty. Author Joanna Macy calls it ‘the Great Turning.’ It’s a shift in consciousness that aligns social healing, economic fairness and an end to war with environmental sustainability. And the time to make it happen is running out. We can’t afford to lose another decade, or another twenty minutes.”
-  Robert Koehler

April 19, 2017

The Gods Want Us To Live Simply

Symbols from the 12 World religious movements:

Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism
Christianity, Chinese folk religion, Hinduism, Islam
Jainism, Judaism, Contemporary Paganism (pentacle), Shinto
Sikhism, Taoism

The gods must be crazy. They want us to live simply. I wonder if they know something Consumers don't?

Pick a god, any god. It doesn't matter which. Chances are that simplicity is part of their gig. Any historical spiritual teacher has taught us through their own example that a simple, modest life is the way to go.

No religion I know of asks devotees to work until they drop from a heart attack just so they can accumulate stuff, entertainments, and luxurious experiences.  Any that did would not have devotees for very long.

Nor would it have a functional planet on which to worship.

No, the gods want us to live a sustainable lifestyle for without people, gods go extinct.

Pick a god, any god. Of those invented so far, all are in unanimous agreement when it comes to advice on simple living - it is the only way to go.

Why aren't more followers heeding that message?

One does not need to go far to find examples from the world's major religions that support living simply.


"I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to.

We know how unsustainable is the behavior of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity.

Don’t let yourselves get swallowed up by a society of consumption and empty appearances."

- Pope Francis


"We have become wrapped up in the fast-paced society of today, which is really unnecessary. Can we not live a happy life without overpriced clothing and basically a surplus of everything? Can we not live a happy life without making sure we go out every weekend, just because it’s the weekend and we have to go out because everyone does? Can we not be simple and just take the time to realize that we are the ones creating our own problems?"

- from Islamic Insights


"Live a simple and harmonious life with nature and people"

- basic teaching of Shinto


Asceticism in Hinduism — restraint in consumption and simplicity in living — represents a pathway
toward moksha (liberation), which treats the earth with respect.

 “Take what you need for your sustenance without a sense of entitlement or ownership.”

- Tain tyakten bhunjitha


Aparigraha (non-acquisition): Keep your requirements and possessions to the minimal.

Jains follow a disciplined lifestyle meant to minimize harm. They eat a pure vegetarian diet, use  minimal resources, do not waste water, electricity, food etc, and give away surplus items they possess.

Whether one is religious or not, living simply is the only way to go on planet Earth. Everything we see and know backs up this claim, perhaps more now than ever before.

The way to peace, joy, and harmonious living is through simplicity.

April 13, 2017

Morbid Inequality

Morbid Inequality: 6 men now pathologically hoarding as much cash as owned by half the planet's population.

Consuming as little as possible gives me immense personal benefits, such as being free from what appears to be a ubiquitous lust for more. I am content with very little, and want for nothing. But there are other benefits, such as not supporting a system that encourages this lust.

There are people (more specifically, male people), that have become immensely wealthy promoting infinite economic growth and infinite want fulfillment. I'm not buying anything from them. I am not into making millionaires, or helping build billionaires.

And I am certainly not interested in transforming them into trillionaires, a extreme wealth milestone that we are predicted to pass in the near future. Maybe I am strange, but this scenario seems completely irrational to me. Why is this seen as a good thing, rather than a money-hoarding mental illness?

"Two generations ahead, future extrapolation of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20% of the total adult population. If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too -- eleven according to our best estimate." 
- Credit Suisse's 2013 Global Wealth Report

It was recently reported that now 6 men own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the planet's population (about 3.6 billion people). I'm not buying into any part of a system that encourages, enables and celebrates such morbid inequality.

The capitalists say not to worry because "we are all getting richer". But if someone making a dollar a day is "lucky" enough to see their wage increase by 100%, they are still only making 2 dollars a day, buying them a slightly better form of poverty. Not good enough.

Who will be the world's first trillionaire? Who cares? I would be happy if there was never such a grotesque entity to ever stalk the Earth. In a just world, there wouldn't be any such thing. I am not buying their crap, and I am not buying their ideology that allows such insanity to exist on a planet imperilled by the infinite lust for more.

Not Buying Anything does not support Morbid Inequality. Luckily there are more of us than them. There is a way out of this.

April 10, 2017

Spring Firsts

Having a fire in winter is nice, but not needing one in spring/summer is even better.

Spring awakens. Life returns. This is a time of firsts, and we have had a few over the past couple of weeks.

First morning we didn't have to heat our home. We usually start the wood stove as part of our beginning of day routine. On winter mornings our home is usually between 12 and 15 degrees C (53 - 57 degrees F) when we get up, so a bit of heat is nice. It is a nice change this time of year when we make the shift from burning tree energy to enjoying the sun's energy.

First bike ride. I was looking at my photos and noticed that my last bike ride was December 21th. On that ride, I sat in a clearing in the forest and watched an early sun set on the shortest day of the year. Now instead of having to be home by 4:30, I can start a ride at 4:30, and stay out till 8:30.

First flowers of Spring.

First snowdrops. Neighbours down the road toward the ocean from us have a beautiful perennial garden along the road. On my bike ride I stopped to admire the little white bells leading the way into a new, warmer season. A sight for sore eyes after months of cold.

Soon robins will be nesting. For the enterprising robin, this will be the first of two broods.

First robins. Mobs of robins, everywhere. Lawns and fields covered in foraging, red-breasted modern day dinos. I was happy to not be a worm or bug. And its not only robins returning.

A flock of geese has been hanging out in our neighbourhood fields, honking and hailing me as I ride by. I give them the nod. All is as it should be, and their presence reassures me.

Turkey vultures, eagles, gulls and more are joining the birds that stay year round, like pileated woodpeckers, blue jays, crows and ravens. Is it time to put out the hummingbird feeder, or am I jumping the gun on that one? How exciting.

Soon our forest and field will be host to a chorus of winged wonders.

Let the concert begin. We, and the birds, lived through another winter. It is a rising note from here to summer solstice. Enjoy your spring firsts... or fall lasts, depending on where you are on this amazing planet of ours.

April 7, 2017

R's For A New World

Has the invention of consumer capitalism made the world a better place? What do we have to show for it?

Walls, war, and warming. Business as usual will only get us more of these.

It is time to try something different, but the profit-based competitive system will not give up easily. That makes it even more imperative for us serfs to get up, stand up, and keep up the fight.

R's For A New World






I hope for a simple living revolution that sees maximalism replaced by minimalism. And hate replaced with love. Dominion replaced with stewardship. Shackles replaced with wings. Poisons replaced with Nature's perfection.

No walls. No wars. No warming.

April 4, 2017

Downsizing: What Do You Keep?

I love to cook, so decided to keep core kitchen items like large bowls and cast iron frying pans.

Downsizing? Just as difficult as it is to decide what to get rid of, are the decisions of what to keep.

It seems that about 98% of the things we buy and hold on to in consumer societies are unnecessary, weigh us down, and destroys the planet at the same time. Knowing that, it may still be hard to let go of familiar things.

But it is worth it. Simplifying and having less leaves more room for what is truly important, so all the difficult decisions are worth making.

The more you own, the more you spend to purchase, maintain, and store things. Stuff needs to be cleaned, sharpened, lubricated, dusted, and kept free of rust and decay as it all succumbs to the laws of entropy. Plus you have to look at everything all the time. Even worse, you  have to wonder why you bought any of it in the first place.

When you have less you have more money, more space, and more time to create the life that you passionately want.

Things We Decided To Keep (for now)

- cast iron frying pan
- universal pot lid
- stainless steel bowls
- blankets, pillows
- outdoor clothing/gear
- art supplies
- basic clothing and fabric
- tools
- small sewing kit
- seeds
- computer
- yoga mats
- rugs/carpets
- guitars and sheet music
- books/journals

But what about things like photographs and love letters? Nope, we let them go, and freed ourselves in the process.

I don't want things, I want happiness and contentment, and over the years I have found that those increase as the anchor of physical possessions becomes less of a drag on my life.

My ultimate goal is to have all my possessions down to what will fit in a small backpack, or shoebox by the time I die. 99% of what we buy and own in consumer societies consists of distractions that keep us from the truly important.

What is kept while downsizing will differ from person to person, reflecting what is most important to each of us. No expert, no book, no method can tell you what to keep. That hard work is up to each of us, and us alone.

It wasn't important to keep photographs... for me. It might be for you, though. Only you can decide.

But the goal should always be to keep as little as possible. The way to do it is: be honest with yourself, be fearless, then let go. Enjoy what you keep, including the memories.

March 31, 2017

Peace And Quiet

Peace and quiet can be found here. 

When I moved to a rural area of Nova Scotia two things struck me immediately. One was how dark it was at night. Like a panther traversing a coal dust storm, the dark here slinks and oozes into every crack, crevasse and corner.

The night sky, unmarred by city lights, made up for any discomfort I felt. A brilliant universe blinking above, the likes of which city dwellers may never see.

The other thing that I noticed out here away from civilization was the almost complete lack of noise. After living in cities for most of my life I was used to constant sirens and traffic noise. We should never underestimate how constant low level sounds can affect our stress levels.

Studies have found that unwanted sound can cause stress and raise blood pressure, heart rates and levels of stress hormones. Cities hum and clang constantly, usually below our threshold of conscious awareness. A rumbling train locomotive can be heard for many kilometres in all directions.

Night is better, but city noise never stops.

Living out in the country means there is often a lack of noise, and at first, like the dark, I found it off-putting. Probably because we are social creatures and we take some comfort in being in aural proximity with others. Otherwise you have to wonder if you are the only person left on Earth.

After a while I became more comfortable with living under a cone of silence, and have even come to enjoy it a great deal. I can think better clear of auditory intrusions. I revel in the silence, broken only by natural, soothing sounds, like the wind, or bird calls, or a brook during a spring freshet.

Then the silence is broken by a jet flying overhead, one source of noise pollution that is hard to avoid, regardless of where you are on the globe. The noise from large passenger jets can travel up to 160km (100 miles). There is no altitude they can fly at which they are not audible, and the sound of any given flyby can be heard for up to eight minutes. Definitely an unwanted intrusion.

Sound ecologists remind us that while zero decibels is difficult to come by, there are still many places one can find that are notable for their natural sounds rather than those of civilization. I live in one such place.

Peace and quiet. Priceless.

March 29, 2017

It's Not You - It's Your Cage

There are times we may not feel good, perhaps lack energy for the daily grind. We may try to find solace in buying things we don't really need. Inevitably, we blame ourselves for our predicament. Unfortunately, so do our keepers.

We aren't ambitious enough, they say. Not trying hard enough, not driven to excel. If you aren't working yourself to death you're doing something wrong. Poor work ethic. They want us to believe it is a moral failing.


What people are feeling is an adverse reaction to the increasingly bland and dirty cage our keepers have built for us. Feeling down and drained right now seems like the proper response to what is happening to us in the consumer enclosure.

We are lab rats in a mad scientist's experiment that we didn't sign up for. Run on the wheel all day, forage for stuff, sleep. Repeat. Escape the cage for a day or a week off, then right back in. Run on the wheel all day, forage for stuff, sleep. Repeat.

Lab rats in similar conditions are driven to drugs to cope, then die an early death. And it's not just lab rats.

Similar results occur when humans are put into cramped, stressful cages. We also turn to drugs, whether cocaine or consumerism or a busy work life. In Japan, working one's self to death is called Karoshi, and victims only get off the wheel and escape the cage after dying of a heart attack or stroke due to stress. Corporate and social pressure props them up till then.

We don't naturally want endless amounts of work and buying stuff - they are understandable and socially sanctioned responses to the effects of coping with a bad cage and a sick experiment. We don't need to increase the number of more ambitious workers willing to shop perpetually, we need a better cage.

That is precisely what living simply provides - a better cage. The door is always open and the environment is rich in nature and community.

A simpler life is a less stressful, more contented life. Rather than concentrating on the few moments when grandiose living gives a temporary shot of feeling good, the simple life focuses on recognizing, and being grateful for, the special little moments of each and every day.

The simple life gives more time to do things that are important, like connecting with other humans in a deeper way than brief commercial exchanges. It is engaging your passions, unhindered by the mad scientists that want you to stay in their sad enclosure. It is about finding meaningful work that gives a sense of purpose and contributes to making the world a better place for all.

Feeling down? Can't help buying things you don't really need or want?

It's not you. It's your cage.

March 27, 2017

Remembering Chuck Berry

Thanks for Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry.

"Chuck Berry died on March 18th at the age of 90. Jim and Greg celebrate the life of Berry by looking at his iconic tracks, as well as his vast influence on future artists. They also talk about his work in later years and what it was like to share a stage with the guitar legend."

March 24, 2017

Happy To Not Buy Anything

My Not Purchasing Process - "I don't need it, and feel better without it."

Spending money can trigger a rush of happy chemicals in the brain yielding a high that has been compared to that after taking cocaine or crystal meth. For most people shopping provides a boost of brain juices and a warm fuzzy feeling results. What about the opposite?

Can not shopping give the same kind of boost of happiness as the joy of unbridled acquisition?

Psychologists and neuromarketing specialists have discovered more about the workings of the brain in the past two decades than the rest of history combined. Much of it has been used against us. New discoveries have aided our health, but have also been used to manipulate our spending habits.

Research has shown that the neurotransmitters such as dopamine are released when people shop. Can not buying anything achieve the same result? Unsurprisingly, I don't think any research has been done in this area, except perhaps my own personal data collection.

What I have found out is hardly new or original. Not buying things you don't need does lead to happy chemicals in the brain. Many visitors to this blog know this little secret.

One reader here commented,

"Its a strange feeling that not spending makes me feel more liberated." Or another shares the realization that, "the deeper I get into this, the less I need anything."

Another reader admits,

"As soon as I quit [needless shopping] I started finding myself focusing on all the wonderful things I already have, and what a blessing it is."  

Erin posted while not shopping for Christmas, and said, 

"I have not set foot in one store in the past few months and it is awesome to sit back and need to feel pressure or strain over "having" to buy."

These do not sound like unhappy people to me.

Dopamine is released when we approach a goal. That could be as we approach the cash register with a giant wide screen plasma internet-ready television balanced on a shopping cart, or it could be meeting a personal goal of shopping less and enjoying life more.

One of the best ways to restore low endorphin levels is to live a simple life. In a slower world with more time it is easier to meet the conditions required for the natural production of happy brain neurotransmitters.

When we have the time to notice the beauty around us, we don't have to turn to unhealthy methods for eliciting happy chemicals in our brains. Like consumerism.

We can be happy and content not buying anything.

March 22, 2017

Billboard Activism

R. Crumb illustration from "The Monkey Wrench Gang", Edward Abbey

I don't know of anyone that wants more billboards spread across the landscape. If anything, they would like fewer. But what about the ones that are already there?

You could burn them up, or cut them down, as in Edward Abbey's book, "The Monkey Wrench Gang". The group did "routine neighbourhood beautification projects, burning billboards along the highway 66". But I don't recommend it.

The free speech accorded to the advertising industry is fiercely protected to the full extent of the law so they can infect you with mind parasites that cause you to want to buy, buy, buy. Or conform. Or be afraid. Or hate this or that. Skin tags are the latest villain.

Or you could become a billboard artist/activist.

Take Jennifer Bolande, whose temporary artwork transforms a series of consecutive billboards in the desert landscape near Palm Springs, CA with photos of the landscapes they are blocking.

Each photograph is unique to its position along this route and at a certain point as one drives by, perfect alignment with the horizon occurs, revealing the beauty the billboard has blocked. It's a beautification project that reminds us of the damage done by the in-your-face advertising blighting highway sides that the wilderness-loving Edward Abbey disliked so deeply.

"Visible Distance/Second Sight" billboard art by Jennifer Bolande, image by Lance Gerber Studio

Or you could engage in a bit of billboard hacktavism such as during the run-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Street artists, working with the group Brandalism, altered ads in 600 European billboards, taking aim at global-warming denial and the corporate forces opposing climate action.

"Following on in the guerrilla art traditions of the 20th Century and taking inspiration from Agitprop, Situationist and Street Art movements, the Brandalism project sees artists from around the world collaborate to challenge the authority and legitimacy of commercial images within public space and within our culture. 
All the artwork is unauthorized and unsigned. This is not a project of self-promotion, and none of the artists names… or websites appear on the works: we believe there are already enough private interests taking ownership of our streets."                             
- from Brandalism website

Billboard activism - not as risky as burning or cutting them down, and possibly more impact through positive messages. I'm putting my gas can and chain saw away, and taking my art supplies out.

But I'm not turning in my honorary Monkey Wrench card.

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