November 3, 2017

Not Buying Anything - Still Legal

"This isn't about your stealing anything. It's about your not buying anything."

The system makes it very difficult to not buy anything, but it is still legal. They can't actually force us to be consumers.

Capitalist interests have pretty much wrapped it all up - you have to pay for everything. Some cities have even made it illegal to sleep outdoors, meaning you are going to have to pay someone to get off the street. What if you can't afford what they are asking?

Pay to sleep. Pay to eat. Pay to drink water. Pay to move. Pay to stand here. Pay to park there. They are always making it easier to buy and pay for things. Pay up, be imprisoned, or die. Pay more while you make less. Sick and tired, you try to break free.

Harvesting rainwater is illegal. Governments use satellite imagery to find, and tax, your backyard garden. Building codes make it impossible to build your own tiny home. When you are down to living in your car, you find it is illegal to sleep in your parked vehicle in many locations.

However, resistance is not futile. People in hyper-consumer systems have lived successfully without money all together. It is a full time job to resist so actively. The payoff is not being complicit in the sickness that is making our planet terminally ill.

Consumerism, and the ecocide that it is causing, is what should be illegal. It is clearly immoral to try to kill Mother Nature, and this heinous violent crime has billions of victims. Perhaps this crowded planet should have new laws concerning taking more than ones fair share of Earth's gifts.

Imagine if security staff thanked you for not buying anything on your way out of the store.


  1. Health Insurance: cost to be well $16,000, cost to be ill $22,000.

    1. Annie,

      It helps to be young and healthy when fighting the system. They really have us over the barrel when it comes to health care, although I can't complain as a mostly healthy, young-ish Canadian within a single payer "health care" system. It doesn't pay for dental care, however, which is one of our largest expenses in any given year. And, Linda and I have been without a family Dr. for about a year due to a doctor shortage in our rural area. No easy answers.

  2. Anonymous11/03/2017

    Gregg I'm struggling to get my head around 'Harvesting rainwater is illegal' - whaaaaaaat??? And my next thought Why???

    Here in Australia we can freely harvest it, I guess because as such a dry continent the government knows that every drop needs to be saved and used.

    We don't pay for parking in my town but they have put in electronic monitoring so that if you exceed the given time you get fined. The most tragic thing about this is people then don't shop locally - no fine for shopping online. You also feel you don't have time to stop and talk to people anymore. The time to stop and talk to people is one of the biggest positives about living in the country! It's terrible to find yourself glancing at your watch when an elderly friend has stopped to talk. I've started parking further from the shops to avoid being fined, and so that I can still give people my full attention.

    I'm wondering are you able to skype with a doctor in Canada? Not the same as being there I know, but better than nothing. I have skyped a naturopath and the only downside was the postage costs to get the herbs.


  3. Anonymous11/04/2017

    We have created a rather strange culture. Of course a much better world is possible, but people in general seem to have been brainwashed into the current system. I will continue to consume just the basics to live on. It's going to take a huge shift to change behaviour that will actually start to support nature and each other. Meditation has strange effect on you as you start to detach from it all, you stop projecting your view onto the world and see it for what it is. However you start to feel part of something bigger and your perspective on consciousness changes to. Not consuming enables detachment and let's you see you unwell society is as you no longer have anything invested in the game.

  4. Gregg, this post jolted me, snapped something right into place for me and defines something I've been wrestling with not fully grasping what it was. You are right. There are no easy answers and healthcare here for me is out of the question. I treat myself with supplements and herbs when needed. Seems to really bother some of the people I know. They want me to go to doctors like they do and take handfuls of drugs. It's the same kind of pressure like people wanting you to buy stuff like they do. Well I'm not buying their healthcare and thankful I can work around it, for now anyway.

    Alex, you added a piece that Gave me pause, we have created a rather strange culture. I just started a more committed meditation practice. I'm looking forward to a new way of seeing as you describe. Now that I'm learning about meditation, I realize I've always meditated on some level naturally especially when I'm outside. I reflect a lot too.

    Madeleine, yes it is true, harvesting rain water is illegal in some places in the states. They want us to buy water. So is putting solar panels on top of your house and making your on power from the sun! They want us to pay for every dang thing. It's not illegal everywhere though. I'm shocked at the number of ordinances we have to live under. And it all gets back to money and making us pay for everything we need.

    I'm working with a local tiny house initiative to get my local government to change an ordinance that would allow tiny houses to be built here. The current ordinance requires a home to be a whopping 850 sq ft! They dictated how big your house has to be, imagine that! We have a tiny house built but it's illegal for anyone to live in so it's parked in a parking lot so people can see it and support this effort to get the code changed. I hosted a showing today for 3 hours. 88 adults and 32 of their children toured the tiny house. Most all of them thought it was very cool. A number of them started making plans about how this could work for them. A lot of people want them. But City government is not budging. They only want big houses here, for taxes and utilities and to keep property values elevated. The city I live in owns the electric company! cha ching!

    This whole thing is rigged against us Not Buying folks. I don't know about any of you, but I'm finding it harder and harder to spend less. Capitalism is obscene.

    1. Anonymous11/05/2017

      Terri thanks so much for your reply about the water.

      I am now shocked to hear solar panels are illegal in some places, what a strange world we are living in. I was not allowed to put solar panels on the front of my roof (which faces north to get the most sun here in Oz) because council felt it would spoil the street scape - I live in a heritage area.

      Fantastic that you are working on the tiny house issue in your area. Aside from the environmental side of it, it really is a human rights issue. Everyone deserves somewhere safe and warm to call their own.


  5. Anonymous11/05/2017

    Hi Terri, there is a definite drive to get more money out of people. Student loans are particularly worrying in the UK. In the US the corporations seem to be running riot and making up the rules themselves. I hope you find meditation useful. I think one way it helps is that it is the opposite to consumption. Consumption is about the compulsive waste of resources in order to self medicate while meditation develops self control which sparks insight into what is behind these drives. I have found meditation hard at times as it asks questions of me, but it has helped develop a different view of things.

    1. Alex-- Our class was discussing that the opposite of self-control is slavery. This makes so much sense to me, because if you are not controlling yourself, who are what is controlling you? Annie

    2. I like this Annie, the opposite of controlling yourself is slavery. What class Are you talking about this in? Terri

    3. It's an adult Sunday School class. It's called Enough by Adam Hamilton. The subtitle is Discovering Joy Through Simplicity
      and Generosity.

  6. Madeleine, they are all about impression management here too like your council not allowing solar panels on the street side. They want things to "look" a certain way. Yes having a choice of living in a smaller home is a human rights issue. It's so good to hear what people in other counties are dealing with.
    Alex, thank you for such supportive comments about meditation and sharing your experience. Inspires me.

  7. The city that I live in has a Clean and Green board which I serve on along with 16 other members. From the first meeting I could tell these folks have a totally different view of what living Clean and Green mean than I do. My first meeting they went around the room and said what there main focus was living clean and green. Most people talked about how they recycled. When it came to my turn, I said my contribution to this is living as small and as simply as I can. I added that I believe the solution lies in simply not buying stuff. Refusing to bring it into my home and living in a small space. The room grew silent an puzzlement was all over their faces. This group is highly focused on living in large houses and buying all they want and believing that is fine because they recycle a lot. We've all met these types of people, sadly.

    I attended our monthly meeting tonight. The sustainability head person from the local university was there. After the meeting we started talking. I said, the solution to massive waste is to stop buying stuff. Just stop. Say no to everything you don't need. Don't buy it. He immediately said that's not really the solution. We need more coordination between the recycling companies and the manufacturers....packaging needs to be more recyclable and we need education to get people to recycle, etc. I felt like I was talking to a rock. Nothing I said was comprehended. He was noticeably uncomfortable. Perhaps my solution offer was too confronting. I'm glad NBA exists. It is a sanctuary in a very illogical world.

  8. Anonymous11/07/2017

    Great discussion, all! Terri, what state are you in? I'm in Texas an tiny houses are legal, and thriving! Arlington just hosted a tiny house jamboree and I so wish I could have attended. We live in a 1000 square foot apartment and that's too small by many people's standards. It suits us perfectly. I find it strange that apartments are still looked down upon here - owning a BIG HOUSE is the American Dream, par excellence. I feel very fortunate as I have a great little community where I live and we look out for each other. It feels like this is how it should be! -Erin

    1. Erin, It's sounds like you live in a wonderful community. I'm in South Carolina. I live in a city that is different than the stereotype of SC. The mental map that people in other parts of the country have of SC is accurate if you multiply it by about 10. Pretty bad. But the city I am in is progressive (in some ways) but the county is way behind the city. The city is adamantly opposed to tiny house communities here. The city worked hard to get the mobile home dealers out of town and to eliminate all trailer parks. They are big on impression management. They fear tiny house communities could become stereotypical run down trailer parks. But the initiative I work with is very committed to get tiny house communities on the ground and filled with residents. I'm doing some ordinance research and went to Planning and Development yesterday to better understand what we are up against. The land has been purchased and site plans have been drawn up for the first tiny home community. Now we have to keep pushing the city to change the ordinance to make them legal to live in. Affordable housing for half the workforce in this country who makes less than $20 an hour is most pressing. Tiny home communities are one way to address the problem. This city loves big houses and keep pushing the lower income folks further and further "over there." I'm starting to see more evidence of gentrification. I love your report from Texas about the tiny house boom! Several areas along the SC coast are very progressive just FYI.
      Annie, thank you for letting us know the name of the program/book you mentioned. That might be something that would interest some people here. I did a presentation for 6 groups of 5th graders today as a Clean and Green member in celebration of America Recycles Day. The lesson I was designated to teach was not fully in line with my own values, but I was able interject that not buying things you don't need was another option to help with the trash problem. It didn't seem like it sunk in at all.

      Gregg, I think we are all doing what we can where we are, all trying to live as simply as we can given out particular circumstances and making a difference even if it is only role modeling to whoever might be watching. You and Linda reach a great deal of people and connect some special folks here in comments. I feel like you all are good friends. After I finished presenting today and not feeling like I did anything useful at reducing trash, I thought how nice it would be to come to NBA and be with folks who are living the deal. You excel at research and writing. It is your contribution and gift to the world. It all matters. It all counts. Thanks for adding a live link to the article.

  9. Erin,

    Agreed - the discussion here is lively and informative. Love it. Small communities are where its at. We are enjoying our move from a town of 10,000 to one of about 2,000. Also, we live in a rural area about 6 km from town, so it is even a smaller community here. This is the first time living rurally for me, and I love it.


    I linked the article in the post above. I should have done that right away. It is heartening to realize that academia somewhere is paying attention to topics concerning the downsides of consumerism and our acquisitive culture generally.

    You are brave for mentioning your ideas to people you meet face to face. My efforts are mostly limited to the internet. Perhaps easier to be courageous, but there you are. Thank you for your efforts. They are rare in my experience.


    I do not know of any access to a Skype based Dr. visit. There are two new Drs in town, but we don't know if either of them will take us on. Luckily, since we lost our second Dr two years ago, we have not needed their services. We just try to stay as healthy as possible.


    I have seen some really amazing programs encouraging simple living coming from religious groups. It makes total sense that they should be teaching this sensible way of life, as most historical religious figures espoused simplicity in one form or another. Your class sounds wonderful. I wouldn't mind hearing more about it.


    Strange culture indeed. I recently came across a word that describes what has happened to us nicely - stultification. We have been stultified into the roll of drones. Slaves to the economy and the 0.01%. Neo-feudalism.

    That is no way to live. Luckily, as many here have found, there is a way out.

  10. Anonymous11/10/2017

    Being your own doctor (with consults with Naturopaths, DOs, energy healers, Chiropractors, MDs, Acupuncturists, or whoever else helps you) is the way to go! I see them as teachers - I pay them to teach me what they know, consider what they say, then do what is right for me. The recipe is pretty simple. Good food, good relationships, good sleep, and spirituality = vibrant health.
    Knowledge is power and peace. -Erin

    1. Erin,

      That is the way I see health care. They have some very important knowledge that I don't have. But I have knowledge they don't have - I know my body and my health better than anyone else. I am an expert on being me. That should count for something.

      Love your recipe for healthy living. Can't go wrong with that going for you.


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