April 29, 2023

Food Not Lawns

In some places this fantastic food not lawns yard would be illegal.
Solution? Change the laws.

Our post called Grow Food Not Lawns is the second most viewed on our blog. For a couple of good reasons.

First, lawn grass is one of the largest, and most useless crops grown. And secondly, throughout the life of this blog it has been getting more and more expensive to buy food.

The lawn situation is not surprising. The way we show wealth in consumer nations is by wasting money. 

You are considered wealthy when you show that you can afford to waste money, like on growing a crop that serves no nutritional purpose, and is a biodiversity wasteland as an added bonus.

I admit that I enjoy the looks of a large expanse of well-manicured lawn, but they should probably be limited to parks and pastures. 

For most people a huge, lush lawn is a luxury they can't afford.

If a fraction of residential lawns were repurposed for growing food, we could go a long way toward increasing food security and local self-reliance.

Big box grocery stores, where most people get their food if they aren't getting it at the local food bank, are run by billionaire families. 

Such stores do not exist to feed us and our communities. They exist to make a profit for the one family and its shareholders.

The instant your local food store fails to increase the coffers of the billionaire family, is the moment that you and your loved ones will find yourselves in a food desert.

"A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. In contrast, an area with greater access to supermarkets and vegetable shops with fresh foods may be called a food oasis."

Here's an idea - start your own food oasis. Start it today, in your yard where your lawn used to be.

Join the Food Not Lawns Movement, increase your food security and save money at the same time.

Building a personal food oasis right at home, or getting stranded in a food desert is a choice we can make.

Any and all efforts help, whether it is a raised bed garden, containers, or a window box.

Make gardening great again!


April 27, 2023

Dumb Consumer Item Of The Month - The Luxury Market

$1.2 million.

The only thing sillier than spending money on unnecessary things is spending huge sums of money on unnecessary things.

Once again the Dumb Consumer Item of the Month is a category - anything in the luxury market. And once again, there is no shortage of dumb.

Since the middle class has been hollowed out over the years, people who were formerly in this income category can no longer afford overconsumption like they used to.

$8 million.

Because of this, consumerism has moved on and has been trending toward the upper income categories where all the money is.

Corporations have been shifting to selling fewer more expensive things to fewer people, while increasing profits at the same time.

The rich spend their insane wealth in increasingly dumb expensive ways, and the rest of us are told to be happy with "owning nothing".

That hardly seems fair. What happened to overconsumption for all?

$7 million.

But this is the only way the uber wealthy can make hoarding cash and spending their vast wealth any fun. 

If we ALL had to reduce our consumption, why have more money than you need at all? Why have it, if you can't spend it?

Solution? Limit the purchasing power of the many in order for the few to continue with their overconsumption in new and more extreme ways.

That's what the growing luxury market is all about.

$31 million.

In a world where more and more people are experiencing difficulties paying for necessities like food, clothing and shelter, that a luxury market exists at all seems insane.

Some would say it is sinful. 

"Sinfully Wicked" consumerism. 

That sounds too much like the perfect tag line for these goods (or shall we call them "bads"?).

But I say it is more like sinfully silly.

April 25, 2023

Simple Time

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

- Thomas Moore

Simple time. It's more flexible than regular time.

Before, when my life was busy and complex, the way I perceived time was much different than after retiring early to the simple life.

Back then I resented the time I had to spend doing things like cooking, dish cleaning, and other household chores. 

I wanted to live!

Just that we refer to them as "chores" tells us something about general attitudes towards such things.

A chore is defined as "an unpleasant or burdensome task". Not something you want to spend too much of your precious time completing.

Tasks. Another one of those words - a task is "a difficult or tedious undertaking". 

Yuck. Who wants to do those?

I was always watching the clock to see how many stretched out minutes my tasks were taking, and when I could look forward to getting back to more pleasant activities.

After simplifying, my attitude towards everything has changed, and my chores and tasks have been redefined.

Now I never watch the clock. Things take as long as they take. 

Because of this, I often enter into what is known as a flow state. This occurs when one is absorbed in and concentrating on an activity. 

Specifically, an enjoyable activity, or one that elicits passion. Could one actually look at household obligations in such a way?

When flow occurs, the result is a loss of self-consciousness and a distortion of time. Much time may pass, but instead it feels fleeting. You get lost in it.

Living simply turned my chores and tasks into something more like play.

A friend of mine used to call this Rubber Time, when the minutes and hours get all bendy and flexy according to what you are doing and how you feel about it. 

Other more relaxed cultures know more about Rubber Time than we do in western cultures ruled by an unrealistic and unhealthy work ethic. 

For those that live to work, there is only one time, and that is clock time. Tick, tick. 

We are told that this form of time keeping represents money. If you aren't working, you are wasting time.

Now I don't think about getting things done while I am doing them. I never look forward to switching to something "better" or "more fun" or more "leisurely" when they are complete.

I have come to see that essential daily activities don't actually get in the way of life, which is the way I viewed them before. 

These are the necessary foundational requirements of living.

I have come to the realization that they are life, rather than impediments that get in the way of what we are told are more important, like shopping.

The Zen masters say, "when eating a banana, just eat the banana".

I am just eating the banana, the whole banana, and nothing but the banana.

In doing so, time has become not only rubbery and relative, but also irrelevant. 

I have entered into timelessness, and am at peace with the things that must be done.

April 23, 2023

Walden 2.0

It is hard to predict what will happen in the future as things are changing so fast. But you can kind of see where it is all going.

I read a comment on a blog summing up what conditions in so many places look like now:

"It's a Shakespearean-tragic-comedy-horror-dystopian-Pavlovian-B.F. Skinner-Huxleyian-Madison Street-CULLING reality show".

 The commenter also figured that the whole mess would be: 

"best viewed from an Epicurean-Walden 2.0 existence, in the remaining days of the civilization project".

What might a Walden 2.0 look like?

Isolation, while not for everyone, does help. Thoreau found it "wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time."

Being close to nature would be another requirement. 

"We can never have enough nature," Thoreau said. "Live each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth."

Another recommendation would be to have few things. It is a great skill "to want but little."

Self-reliance would be another essential for living in the woods, or anywhere else.

The good news is that a more self-reliant Walden 2.0 life can be done wherever we are at. 

In such a life we can

- cook and eat more at home
- unplug our devices more often (a sane-cation as one of our readers calls it)
- spend more time outdoors
- grow as much of our own food as we are able
- practice refuse, rethink, reassess  and repair when it comes to material possessions
- purchase the things we need locally

Thinking differently may be difficult and dangerous, but it is the way to much needed changes.

"I see nothing permanent in the society around me," Thoreau wisely observed,"and am not quite committed to any of its ways."

Nothing is permanent, and how much of what governments are forcing on us are we actually committed to? 

We can change it all if we so choose because we are the power. 

In the course of doing so, you may not save the planet, or civilization, but you might just save yourself and those you love.

While "democratic" governments don't ask us what we want any more, we should be asking ourselves.

What kind of future do we envision for ourselves and our communities?

April 19, 2023

Extreme Frugal - No Car

A car is one of the most expensive household consumer items. And yet, there is a limited understanding of the cost privately and socially of owning and using one.

For most of my life I enjoyed owning a car, and not once did I calculate exactly how much it was costing me. 

If you "have to have a car", why bother? But do you really have to have one?

Undoubtedly they are a highly convenient mode of transportation, but we pay a high price individually and collectively for that.

Private motor vehicles are expensive because they cost a lot initially to purchase. A car today costs what a house used to cost not so long ago.

There is also depreciation, insurance, registration, repairs, gas, and all it takes to keep a car clean and shiny.

Social costs include pollution, congestion, noise, death and injury (of humans and other living things) from accidents, road maintenance, and health care costs due to inactivity.

All those roads and parking spaces cost a lot, and determine how our landscape is designed. What we get is a planet built for cars, not for people.

It has been estimated that a couple that lives closer to work and bicycles there instead of driving could save them $250,000 over 10 years.

Linda and I are presently in our 3rd year of not having a vehicle, and we have no regrets. But I can't say it has been painless.

After a lifetime of easy mobility, we have had to make alternate arrangements for getting things done.

We have generous friends that have been picking up groceries for us that we order on line. 

For other things there is a non-profit organization that provides wheelchair accessible transportation for both Linda and I for $20 dollars per trip. But we find that we don't really have a need to go anywhere.

I ride my bicycle a lot, and ride to town for most things that need to be done. 

I ride to a small store run by a local family for small  food orders, like onions or apples or potatoes, then carry the food home in a pack on my back. 

Instead of driving and taking 30 minutes, it takes me about 2 hours on my bike. But those are 2 glorious hours in comparison.

People generally want to be healthier these days. Studies show that cycling and walking is not just physically healthy, but is also beneficial for mental heath. 

Cycling is ideal for shorter distances. In cities it can be faster than driving, and it is definitely more enjoyable. 

I have never seen someone on a bicycle get road rage. 

Road relaxation is more likely.

But for the majority of people, the most important thing these days will be saving money. Saving lots of money.

If you want to go extreme frugal, I would highly recommend going car free.

We wish we had done it 30 years ago when we first talked about it.

“In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.” 

― Rebecca Solnit

April 16, 2023


You ask why I live in the mountain forest,
I smile, and am silent,
and even deep within remain quiet:
the peach trees blossom,
the water flows.

- Li T’ai-po  


April 13, 2023

2001: A Simple Living Odyssey

The Boat = Simple Living
The Giant = Capitalism
The Rock = Consumerism

Today we mark the two thousand and first published post here on Not Buying Anything. This is that post.

Blogging here has been both an "extended adventurous trip" (since 2008), and an "intellectual/spiritual quest", so it fits the billing as an odyssey.

But we have not done this quest alone. Indeed, many have dropped in on our adventure, aided it, and added to it.

Fellow travellers have come, and some have gone. A few have left a indelible mark.

The comments left here have been helpful and supportive, and we appreciate each and every one like the precious nuggets of wisdom and knowledge that they are.

Only once while navigating these rolling seas have we encountered the dreaded troll, and even that challenge did not linger long. We rode out the storm and moved on to calmer waters.

Not only is this the 2001st published post here, I have many more in the pipes.

On this platform you can save draft posts. I currently have 855 of those, a silly amount. However, any one of those may end up being published some day.

And now that Rhonda Jean over at the Down To Earth blog is no longer publishing, I figure it is up to the rest of us simple living bloggers to pick up the slack, even if she does represent an irreplaceable personality and resource. 

Here's to the next 15 years of Not Buying Anything, and the next 2000 posts in our simple living odyssey.

Thank you so much for joining us in this adventure. 

Onward we go, for our mission on this journey has not yet been completed.

Besides, we are having an immense amount of fun. 

Dave: We want a system that works for everyone.


HAL: I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

April 11, 2023

My Mini Root Cellar

Beet tops growing out of the moss in our mini root cellar.

I am always looking for low or no-energy ways of doing things. Methods for storing the garden harvest and other foods is a big one.

Over the years I have tested a few things that have worked well. 

One is my no-energy cold drawer in the kitchen in which I keep bananas, onions, garlic, apples and oranges for immediate use. 

My moss bin is another example. I first read about storing root vegetables in gathered forest moss on the internet, and since we live surrounded by forest, decided to try it.

Now we have been keeping a moss bin in our attached, unheated garage for a couple of seasons, and with great success.

I store our garden grown carrots and beets without electric powered refrigeration. 

I also keep our store bought potatoes and apples in the garage. They are wrapped individually in newsprint and placed in a cardboard box.

These storage methods save us money, plus veggies stored in the fridge still have a limited shelf life. Eventually they either shrivel or rot.

Although we are finding that the moss bin has limitations, food lasts much, much longer in it than it would if kept in the fridge. And our boxed potatoes and apples last longer than they would if kept in our pantry in the house.

We harvested carrots and beets last October. Our beets have been all used up either in borsht or pickled, but we still have a few carrots left. The carrots are finally starting to show their age, but minimally.

These roots and tops grew while in the moss bin. It's alive!

The thing I like most about my moss storage system is that the carrots and beets continue to live, and grow both roots and tops over the weeks of storage.

The fact that the veggies are still living means that freshness is maintained.

These are the tastiest beets and carrots I have ever enjoyed, being much, much better than the comparatively yucky and expensive ones from the store.

Not everyone lives in the woods where moss is abundant, but if you do, you might consider this energy-free method of preserving the harvest.

Note: If you do use moss, please collect it respectfully and responsibly. It is slow growing, and can take a long time to replenish itself. If harvested too aggressively, it can do a lot of harm. Best to take small amounts over a wide area, than take up large sheets from one spot.

I have also experimented with returning the moss in the  spring to the spots I took it from, and have found that some regeneration is possible.

April 9, 2023


I didn't get a pic of my greens, but they were much more dead than shown here.

Last time I rode to the grocery store I bought green onions. Three days later, I took them out of the fridge and the greens were completely wilted. 

I thought they were dead and gone.

Usually I remove the rubber bands from green onions and dry them out as soon as I get home. Otherwise they go bad quickly as they are very delicate.

This time I forgot to do that, which sucks because I really dislike wasting food. 

But I had faith. I believed I could make the greens live once again.

First I tried putting the onions in some water, thinking that the roots would suck it up and revive the greens.

It worked a little bit, but they were still mostly wilted.

Unfazed, I continued on with my reanimation experiment.

I cut the greens off entirely, and immersed them in cold water.

An hour later I came back. What I saw caused me to rejoice. The greens lived again! They were plump and firm and crunchy. 

My faith and effort paid off, and I did not have to bury them in the compost. Now, they have risen to prominence in many delicious recipes.

It was the miraculous transformation that I hoped for, but didn't really expect. Perhaps I should have.

When things get bad, we should never allow ourselves to get down. Things get better.

Because good things happen as surely as the sun rises. As surely as the rejuvenating spring follows the dead of winter.

It is the universal message that has been shared across cultures and time as shown by the many stories humans have told about the resurrection of more than just onion greens.

Nature has taught us to be a hopeful species. It is all quite miraculous. 

April 5, 2023

Careful Of The Moonlit Dewdrops

Careful! Even moonlit dewdrops,
If you’re lured to watch,
Are a wall before the Truth.

Sogyo (1667–1731)

If I understand Sogyo correctly, becoming bedazzled by the beauty of moonlit dewdrops can put up a wall between us and the Truth.

If this is itself the Truth, imagine what being lured by more stuff than you need does.

And how about being bombarded by cultural conditioning, propaganda, and entertainments in an ongoing blitz for the entirety of our lives? 

That puts up a wall as high as Everest, and what fraction of humanity has ever stood atop that mountain? Only 6,339 people have done it so far. 

Have more living humans than that found the Truth? If so, I see little evidence of it.

It would be very difficult to find the Truth about ourselves, or the world in which we exist, living the consumerist life. That is one whopper of a wall.

"Tear down that wall", I say. The Berlin Wall was nothing in comparison.

Tear down the stuff, the busyness, the mainstream distractions, and the meaningless work.

Do that and we get closer to the Truth that Sogyo refers to. 

Love the dewdrops, but love the pursuit of Truth more. 


April 3, 2023

Way Too Much Information

“In the Information Age, the first step to sanity is FILTERING. Filter the information: extract for knowledge.

Filter first for substance. Filter second for significance. These filters protect against advertising.

Filter third for reliability. This filter protects against politicians.

Filter fourth for completeness. This filter protects against the media.” 
― Marc Stiegler

Life today is a big dose of TMI. Or WTMI.

Way Too Much Information.

We talk about dangerous qualities of information, but no one talks about the dangers of the quantity of information. 

I like what Greg McKeown says that applies in this context: 

"You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything."

The news is WTMI. So is most all of what passes for entertainment. 

Social media? WTMI. It doesn't matter who is wearing underwear and who isn't. 

Avoiding information overload and simplifying the mental environment is critical if one is to maintain their sanity. 

Here are a few things that work for me.

1. Ignore irrelevant information (which is most of it).

More than misinformation or malformation or disinformation, keep in mind the dangers of being swamped in irrelevant information.

2. More is not necessarily better. 

Be discerning when selecting information sources, and set limits. An overwhelming number of choices leads to mental paralysis.

3. Choose activities carefully.

Time and energy are limited and precious. Use them wisely.

4. Quit.

Stop engaging in things that don't improve quality of life.

Also widely recommended are things that help reset and reprogram your brain. 

Here we find exercise/movement, sleep, hydration, and spending time in nature.

Another brain reset activity is spending time alone doing nothing, which is the ultimate cure for information overload.

Finally, I am forced to consider that perhaps reading a blog about information overload is information overload...



April 1, 2023

The Fool


"The archetype of the fool can connect us with a very important aspect of ourselves.


It is the image of the innocent, childlike person who is not caught in the concepts and stereotypes of the rational, sophisticated mind and therefore is free to perceive and experience life directly as it really is in the moment.

For today, let go of your adult sophistication and allow yourself to experience the simple delight of a very young child. Be the fool, who, having no complex concepts of how things should be, simply enjoys life as it is.

Today, allow yourself to be filled with innocent delight."


- Shakti Gawain