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.
-  www.marchforscience.com 

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.