October 31, 2015

Are You An Activist?

Mother Nature can't speak for herself. For that we need activists.

"An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something. That person is usually not motivated by a need for power, or money, or fame, but in fact is driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness - so much so that he or she is compelled by some internal moral engine to act to make it better." 
- Eve Ensler

October 30, 2015

What's In Processed Food?

What is in processed foods? Only the manufacturers know for sure, and they aren't talking. You could look on the ingredients list on the label, but that is like taking a politician at their word. What you are likely to get is less truth, and more truthiness, or even outright falsifications.

I read recently about a food lab that tested hot dogs to see what they really contained. Some of the products contained things not on the label, like pork in all-beef wieners, or meat in vegetarian hot dogs. The lab even found human DNA in some hot dog products.

So what is really in processed foods? Unless you have a food lab in your basement it is impossible to know.
Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute, a nutrition and weight management centre, said, “That speaks to a larger picture . . . as far as what’s in the foods that we’re buying, we really are at the mercy of the manufacturers.”
“The simplest way to not worry about the contents of your box or jar is not to buy products that are in boxes and jars, and really try to maximize the transformation of fresh, whole ingredients into food,” he said.

Best to try not to buy anything in a box, jar, or tube, regardless of how convenient or tasty they might be. The best food is real food, not factory food.

As Michael Pollan says, "If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

October 27, 2015

Overcoming The Urge To Shop

Compulsive shoppers are not born that way, they are a product of our consumer culture.

In ConsumerLand the consumer's urge to shop has been honed and fine tuned for maximum fun and profit. That this comes almost exclusively from outside influences is rarely acknowledged, as if we were born to shop.

If we are to live simply, this lifelong consumer brainwashing must be overcome.  It is not normal to want to consume till we drop from exhaustion, or die, whichever comes first.

The following are some suggestions for quelling the urge to buy stuff.

1. Declutter your living space. The neater and sparser your surroundings are, the less likely you will want to bring anything else in.

2. Start a shopping diary. Keep track of what you buy, and how much it costs.

3. Use only cash. Credit is too easy, not to mention dangerous as it can give one a false sense of wealth.

4. Only buy timeless things that don't go out of fashion. Or ignore fashion all together and buy long lasting things that make you happy.

Mostly, be gentle with yourself. Overcoming a life of propaganda and social pressure is not an insignificant thing. It is a battle. But it can be won, and it is worth the effort to be free of the pressure to buy, buy, buy.

Other Tips For Overcoming The Urge to Shop

  • Recognize you are not alone, that many people experience the same urge to shop, and many people have successfully overcome this compulsion.
  • Dedicate yourself to a hobby or project.
  • Spend time with friends and family.
  • Be in nature.
  • Volunteer in an area you are passionate about.
  • Get addicted to exercise or some other healthy pursuit.
  • Be content with what you already have.
  • Recognize your "triggers" that lead to shopping. Avoid them, or learn to disarm them.
  • Seek the help of like minded people who understand the seriousness of the effects of rampant consumerism on your life and the lives of those around you.

October 25, 2015

Living More vs. Working More

Where do you fit on this scale?

There are two ways to financial security - one is to make more money. The other is to spend less. I am an advocate of the later method because spending less allows me to work less and live more.

Like most people, I buy things. But what I buy, mostly, are the basics. Shelter, food, utilities, health care, and transportation. Beyond that in most months I don't buy anything else. What else do I need? The basics are all that are required to set the stage for happiness.

My minimal budget provides me with a comfortable place to live, clean water (some of it heated), a sanitation system (including garbage disposal/recycling), and 24 hour electricity for heating, lighting, cooking, and my computer.

Add to that fresh, wholesome, tasty food, a secure place to store my guitars and bicycle, accessible natural areas, good health, and a public library near by. All of this in a safe, secure community with caring and supportive friends.

What more could a person want? If you can have a good life on a low income, why work more? I would rather live more than work more, and keeping to a modest budget allows me to do just that.

Some think that work/life balance means a 50/50 split. Wrong. In this case, a healthier ratio looks more like 20/80.

October 23, 2015

World Thinkers and Writers Peace Meet

"With the very future of the human project at stake, the kind of assumptions we make become absolute vital to the possibility of realizing a truly humane and transformed future characterized by peace, sustainability, and justice." - Dr. Glen Martin, One World Renaissance

Despite all the denial going on in response to pressing world issues, it is not difficult to see that Earth and everything on it is imperilled by violence, greed and ignorance. While many complain about our predicament, very few offer doable solutions.

Glen Martin is not one of those - he has some very compelling ideas about what actions we can take to improve life for everyone on this planet.

I discovered Dr. Martin's work when the following information was posted in the comments of my post on the Occupy Movement:

You are invited to a large global peace conference—the World Thinkers and Writers Peace Meet—in Kolkata, India on December 27-31. You may come as a delegate for the 14th session of the Provisional World Parliament that will be part of this conference. 
Papers are also invited for the International Philosophers for Peace Conference that will meet concurrently. (Please send an abstract to Dr. Patricia Murphy at pmurphy@sju.edu.)  
You may also register as a delegate for the Parliament. Those wishing to participate in the Provisional World Parliament should register with Dr. Glen Martin at gmartin@radford.edu.  
Your intelligence, experience, and leadership are needed to contribute to this historic event in Kolkata. 
To find out more, visit the following sites: 

I urge you to check out Dr. Martin's hopeful work for yourselves, knowing there are many compassionate, thinking, and peace-loving readers that check in here at Not Buying Anything. Take a look. Let me know what you think.

Here's to solutions for a better world. We need more of them.


"We will see that dealing with the global crises that threaten human existence is directly related with the imperative to establish a world based upon human dignity and human flourishing, a world that will include both a spiritual renaissance and a practical, planetary social contract."

October 20, 2015

Plain Black T-Shirt A Lesson In Globalism

Made in Canada

At one time this country used to make things that people used and needed. I remember not so long ago that when looking at the tags on clothing one would often see "Made in Canada" on the label. Sure there was clothing from other countries, but the majority would be made here.

Now when I look at clothes in the second hand shops I see tags from everywhere except my own country. Most of the countries where clothes are now made are places where wages are ultra-low, and social/environmental protections are lax.

The other day I was looking at a plain black t-shirt that has been in my wardrobe for at least the past 5 election cycles. Maybe longer. It is thin, stretched, and perfectly comfortable. Somehow over the years it has escaped my tag detective scrutiny.

When I looked at the tag on my shirt I discovered that it was manufactured about 3 hours away from where I am currently living - right here in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was made by a company that started making clothes in 1855 (I think that is when my shirt was made from the look of it), and they are still making them there today.

Rather than being an exploitative sweatshop, the company has been providing quality jobs and tax dollars to the local community for over one hundred years. Generations of locals have worked in the textile mill, raised families, lived good lives, and provided products that Canadians need.

Even now the company is committed to making as much clothing as they can right here at home. Even if that means the product is a little more expensive than if it were made, say, in Bangladesh. Or Nicaragua. Or Pakistan. Or China. Or Haiti.

We used to have "Buy Local" programs that encouraged us to keep our money and business profits in the country. Globalism has done away with anything that might affect multi-national profit making, including all the programs encouraging us to keep our dollars at home.

That does't mean we have to stop looking at where our clothes are made, and the consequences of buying from bad bosses overseas.

If you don't look at labels on your clothing, I highly recommend you try. It is a good lesson in globalism and geography. Afterwards, consider sourcing your clothing needs closer to home.

When I need another plain black t-shirt (probably before the next election), I know where I am going to buy it. And if I have to spend a little more for the privilege of buying Canadian made, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

Think Globally. Buy Locally.

October 16, 2015

Still Not Enough

It's official - it is fully 50% as of this year.

For the first time in history, the richest 1% of humanity owns 50% of the world's wealth. At the same time conditions for the other 99% seem to be getting bleaker all the time.

The inequality in my homeland, Canada, is also evident. The wealthiest 86 Canadians own as much wealth as the 11.4 million poorest.

Surely this is a sign of some sort of insidious mental illness, Wealth Hoarding Syndrome perhaps. One has to ask, "How much does one person really need?" and "What is the purpose of all that money?"

In the end, excessive amounts of money makes humans engage in counterproductive activities. Always wanting more borders on the pathological.

I wonder if the mental patients are holding a celebration to commemorate their raking in of 50% of the globe's goodies? But what I really wonder is:

"Are they satisfied now, or are they going to go for the full 100%?"

Buying as little as possible I am trying to avoid feeding the insanity. I watch who I am giving my money to, and try to keep my cash in the community. It is the healthy way to go.

The 1% do not need more of your hard earned money. They can keep their hands off my stash.

October 14, 2015

Savouring Simple Pleasures

The valley below our home is a riot of colour.

“See what happens if you commit yourself to loving life. 

Begin by remembering to pause and savor the simple pleasures. 

Have the intention to hold gently the difficulties. 

Open your heart to the life of this moment and discover that joy is never very far away.” 

- Tara Brach, “Radical Acceptance”

Sunset at Haines Lake, a short bike ride from home.

October 12, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for my simple, beautiful life. I voted today at my advanced polling station, and I am thankful for that as well. May simplicity and democracy work hand in hand to provide freedom and sufficiency for all in Canada and around the world.

Note: no turkeys were harmed in the creation of this post, or in my Thanksgiving celebration.

October 9, 2015

No Christmas Gifts, Please

It's October. That means cooler temperatures, trees turning brilliant colours, shorter days, and Christmas crap in the stores. Tis the season, then, to talk about how to stop the seasonal gift giving madness. 

For some of us there is only one thing worse than not getting gifts - and that would be getting gifts. Maybe you don't need anything. What do you do with the gifts you don't want or need?

Yesterday this blog received a comment about how to broach the subject of not wanting Christmas gifts with loved ones. 

Here is the comment that was posted on the Simplicity page:

"How do you tell your siblings that you don´t want anything for Christmas. They always insist on giving things for Christmas. I got so frustrated last year, I told one sister I needed a blanket, I don´t. I told the other one I needed a cardigan, I don´t. They insist on giving gifts to every one for Christmas. The youngest is 32. I am trying to go back to simple living but they don´t get it. Any advice?"

Knowing that many readers of Not Buying Anything celebrate simplicity at this time of year by declaring a moratorium on gift exchanges, I thought I would tap into this vast collection of excellent ideas and unique experiences.

So there you go. How do you stop the deluge of stuff in the upcoming season? How do you broach the subject without hurting feelings, but still getting your point across - No Christmas Gifts, please?

Thank you to the anonymous commenter for asking the important questions and getting the discussion going early this year.

Is it too early to say, "Happy Buy Nothing Christmas"?

October 7, 2015

Public Not Invited To TPP Debate

Just one of many of the problems with the TPP and the global corporate take over.

We have been shut out and shut up. As citizens were demoted to consumer status we lost our seat at the debate. No one is listening to our views. Unless they affect profits, no one cares.

Disoriented by gorging on cheap goods and services we failed to notice the coup going on as we shopped our way to materialist bliss. As the TPP trade deal is finalized we can see that the corporate take over of the world is almost complete.

We can also see that capitalism is broken.

Our governments have been corrupted by corporate money to the point that elected officials don't work for The People any more. Other than at the ballot box, our voice has ceased to matter.

All this occurs as many are waking to the grim future if capitalism continues down the path that misdealings like the TPP follow. Collapse seems like a likely outcome.

Hundreds of "corporate advisers" have been allowed to access the TPP document and trade negotiators. The following are some of the more well known corporations that have helped write the agreement.

American Petroleum Institute
Archer Daniels Midland
BNSF Railway (Tar Sands)
Federal Express
Ford Motor
General Electric
Georgia Pacific
Hewlitt Packard
Johnson and Johnson
Kraft Foods
M&T Bank
Procter and Gamble
US Chamber of Commerce

All the public has seen are documents that have been leaked.

While we have been shut out and shut up in such negotiations, we can still vote with our dollars. As of yet corporations can't sue us for not buying their products. If enough of us do this, things will change.

"Businesses have changed when the public came to expect and require different behavior, to reward businesses for behavior that the public wanted, and to make things difficult for businesses practicing behaviors that the public didn't want. I predict that in the future, just as in the past, changes in public attitudes will be essential for changes in businesses' environmental practices.”  - Jared Diamond, in Collapse

If I am not invited to the debate I will make my non-materialistic lifestyle speak for me. A mass movement of simplicity would show the powers that be that we can structure better lives with them or without them.

Affect their profits - that will get their attention. The list above is a good place to start. You can find a more comprehensive list of TPP conspirators here.

October 4, 2015

My Hybrid

This solar hybrid lantern charges even on overcast days.

I am a new owner of a hybrid. It recharges with any light source, and can go eight hours on a full charge. It will hold a charge for years, is water resistant, and is extremely durable.

My hybrid is a light, more commonly known as a camping lantern. Its 12 bright LED's run on solar, or a battery backup. Over the past several months I have never needed to use the batteries.

Initially I was looking for a bedside table lamp, but conventional varieties weren't doing anything for me. After letting go of most of our possessions last year before moving, we have been in a position of deciding what to replace.

Bedside table lamps didn't make the list. Neither did bedside tables. Instead, I put a chair from our kitchen table next to the bed, then bought the hybrid light to go on it.

The lamp puts out 200 lumens of light, the equivalent of only a 25 watt incandescent bulb. While it's not a lot of light, it does have a 10 meter radius. There is plenty of light to smooch (or snog) by. Or read a book together.

During the day I move the lantern to the window to recharge in the sun.

My hybrid light is eco-friendly, efficient, and reminds me of camping. But mostly, I think photons are fun, especially the ones that come from the Sun every day. I want to capitalize on that free energy as much as possible, and this is my small start in that direction.