The Bold Approach to Self Sustainability

I talk all the time on here about the different ways to minimise your life, simplify your life, relax and be simple. I talk a lot about self sustainability because in truth it is really important, there is so many aspects to it that are important to know, however even more important to practice. However sometimes self sustainable lifestyles can be new, hard to start and costly to begin. There are no doubts of the long term benefits, it is simply just taking that first step. For example solar power, we realise it should be a part of the future and we accept it’s benefits however the startup cost is audacious and no one wants to take that leap.

 

I have the same problem in my life, see I live in a rental apartment, and i have for a while now, meaning I can’t change much, I can’t take the same steps I’d like to be taking. There are things like gardening, composting, sustainable energy and downsizing that just are not possible in a rental property. With today’s economy it is not a feasible option to buy a house or buy my own property, the costs are too high and I am a single working person. Even still though, I’d love to stop paying rent, stop paying outrageous bills and start saving for a better future. I’m not alone in this, many young people of my generation realise all the great benefits of a sustainable lifestyle however we are not in a financial standpoint to do so.

 

The title lists, a bold approach, that is what is necessary for someone my age to take a sustainable approach to life. I’ve looked into numerous options and most of them require having land, which for me is currently not a possibility. So instead I have to look at mobile living options, I’m not talking trailers or campers because personally I find this “trashy” and not exactly the way I would like to be living. So how bold exactly are we talking? Well the kind of bold that involves sacrificing everything I currently have to create a brand new lifestyle in a short, quick and brand new way. I would in part say that I am doing this out of desperation and part because I want to change and I want to change now. I am young and allowed to make mistakes so why not try these big ventures now and see where they take me? That is the beauty of a young age, we are allowed to mess up and it is simply considered natural and actually good learning experience. So I’m going to take the bold step, completely drop every luxury I currently have and buy a bus. Yes that is it I am buying an old school bus to turn into my home on the go.

 

So yes, a school bus, the same long yellow school bus that takes countless children to school, well as it turns out they can only run for so long then they are put up for sale. They are cheap, not pocket change but cheap with all things considered. Now I just mentioned above that I was giving up all luxuries for this leap, what exactly do I mean by luxury? Well running water is a luxury, so is heat and gas, having an at home internet connection, having a full washroom and having a proper living space. None of those things will be in the bus when I first start, it is an empty vessel for whatever I decide to put inside. So depending on finances, because I’m doing this using savings, we can see how much can get done and how quickly with the finances I have but to do this I am ready to sacrifice all of those things in order to achieve my goal. This isn’t to say that it is forever, I plan to add in a full washroom, add in a full kitchen and add most of the regular utilities and luxuries everyone else just takes for granted daily.

 

Why though? Why would anyone want to suddenly put himself into this situation? Well as I said it is a bold step to self sustainability. The hope is that everything that can be made on my own should be. I should rely on a separate company for my electricity, I don’t need gas to heat my space, I don’t need a massive apartment where I am paying far more than needed. All of this can be solved on my own and it just requires a bold step. You can read more about the full plan for the bus in another article but here I’d like to highlight the important features. So there will be on board water storage for the sink and the shower, it will be very precise amounts designed to fill certain amounts of time. The toilet is not your usual toilet, there is no water and it is completely composting, a simple and seemingly primitive solution. There is one sink in the entire house, there is no oven, just stove burners. The entire bus is powered using 3 or 4 solar panels and a battery bank. There is almost no need for lights as everything is naturally lit by windows surrounding 360 degrees. Everything is natural wood, no harsh finishing, no chemicals and no need for weak materials, and the entire thing is inside of a moving vehicle combining two of the largest costs in life into one place. The bus is still designed to run on diesel but we will see about changing that with time. Overall the bus is a self sustaining vehicle and does all of the necessary functions on it’s own. This eliminates utility costs, rent cost, and other things like that. My main costs will become gas and food. Leaving a lot of money to save or spend as desired.

 

If my journey interests you please continue to check back here as we will be posting some updates and eventually we will start a new blog dedicated to the project. If you are interested in my full walkthrough of the project then feel free to find the article describing the full planning of the bus on this same blog.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope this journey is something that intrigues and interests many.

Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by!

Downsizing and Life Editing

Today I really want to touch on the concept of life editing and the need for such a thing in not only our lives as North Americans but also for really anyone. The 21st century is completely obsessed with commercialism and advertising and consumerism. Now I won’t convince you to run away and live in a cabin in a forest far from the tax man but I do want to talk about life editing in a world where we have been taught to consume.

First why is downsizing important? Why should I downsize when I can own three cars, a mansion and have tons of money? Well downsizing is important for so many different reasons, first off it is important to our own sanity. Why is it that our homes are much larger than 20 years ago and yet we still can’t find a spot for all the things we own. Doesn’t that tell you that maybe you have too much stuff or maybe you are possessing too much? The american dream is no longer of freedom and expression or acceptance, it has become about consumerism and possession. It is not a healthy thing to keep as the “american dream” because that means many other people are trying to accomplish this dream all over the world because they see how wealthy our nation is, and yet no one sees the damage of this. Many current issues with society and the way we consume things has caused a ripple effect, we are causing problems in other countries and other places because of our consumerism, this isn’t healthy and not something we should be proud of let alone inspiring the rest of the world to partake in. Downsizing is important because it is trying to make a mentality shift in people and show the world that consumerism and possession isn’t a happy way of life, it isn’t fulfilling to own a lot of things, it is nice and something to brag about, but it isn’t happiness. We need to start taking steps to show that the american dream isn’t about multiple cars and big houses, we need to show them that it is about a happy, comfortable life, living within means and having the essentials. The american dream should be something like having freedom, expression, and essentials, shelter, water, food, security and love. Some places don’t even have proper water.

Now life editing, that is a fairly new word isn’t it, well the definition is simple it is exactly editing your life. This is important because many of us do not live a sustainable lifestyle, especially the ones who are the biggest consumers, it is hard to live sustainably when all your meals come in packaging and your waste is more than your actual possessions. Life editing is all about learning how to bring your life down to a manageable, sustainable and happy lifestyle. Often a critical point is the actual space we use, we don’t need 2000 square feet to live, in fact many people are living and managing quite well in under 500 square feet. So evaluating the size of space you need to live, this is something that helps your finances and also teaches a lesson in frugality, you learn to keep the things you need and nothing more, you buy something, you get rid of something, there is no excess, there is just balance. Learning what we need instead of what we want is a very freeing experience and we learn just how much consumerism has taken over our lives, once you realize that it is amazing.

These two steps don’t mean you have to live in a studio apartment, with the bare essentials and so on, it just means that you take steps to make your life more sustainable and easier to manage. You are taking steps towards a better life through simplicity and downsizing. Discovering that there is more to life than that sale or that new product, instead we start living with what we need, we become more relaxed and more comfortable in our space and we realize that excess doesn’t bring happiness.

As always thank you for reading, I know today was short but I plan to continue this thought in other articles. I hope you either learned or gained something and I hope you have an amazing day!
Thanks

Inconvenience or Simpler?

I really want to cover on the fact that we are living some so called american dream, where instead we are actually living in an american excess. The truth about this society we live in, is that instead of being happy with our very wealthy society and enjoying the fact that we have access to everything. Then the moment we are without something minor like hot water we freak out and feel extremely inconvenienced, that’s what it really is, the feeling of convenience is what our society cherishes so much. Why? It’s simple because everything about our society is convenient, food is close, water is close, roofs are above our head, travel is possible and there are so many other possibilities. The entire American dream was based around the idea of convenience. Food became time consuming to make, so we brought in fast food. Laundry was time consuming, we created washing machines to do it for us and so forth.

So on the whole concept of simplicity and simplifying your life we should talk about the things that are convenient and maybe work on those. Because having a couple inconveniences is not a problem, it builds character. Imagine that you went without a formal laundry machine, that would be tough, that would be inconvenient. So well what would we do instead? Well like the rest of the world you would have to do your laundry by hand, which is possible. Time consuming but possible. Washing the laundry by hand is time consuming, it is also relaxing and a bit of a workout.

By doing things the inconvenient way we are opening up the opportunity to grow as a person, learn a new skill and unwind through dedicated tasks. I went a couple weeks of doing my laundry by hand and I found it very relaxing, a little bit of a workout but just some time to sit and do one task can be nice. When it comes down to it our lives aren’t nearly as busy as we make them seem. We add things like scheduled tv shows, and other excessive activities. If we remove the unproductive things we find there is so much more time. I rarely watch any tv, I cut down on internet time, I don’t go party or out drinking, and surprisingly I have plenty of spare time for more relaxing activities. To sit down for an hour or so and wash laundry by hand is not a huge deal. It isn’t that bad at all. To cook a whole meal from scratch is not that big of a deal because you start cooking and cook properly on medium temperatures and while it cooks you have time to multi task. The result becomes healthier food, but also you get work that you are proud of because it is yours and you don’t mind it because you immediately see the product of your work.

Immediate gratification is another problem our society has, which ties in perfectly with convenience. We no longer worry about immediate gratification because we can have anything we want, when we want for a cost. You want a new shirt? You can travel to the store and buy one, the longest wait we have to endure is ordering online, and even that people treat like it is a huge deal to wait so long. We need to shift the immediate gratification and I’d like to say get rid of it altogether but that is something that won’t be happening any time soon. Instead we should focus the efforts of our immediate gratification into our own lives, our own very personal lives. As I mentioned above when cooking your own meal, yeah it can be work, it can be hot but in the end you and whomever you are with gets to enjoy the food. You get to see the work, see the production and then eat the results. That is a healthy sense of gratification. It is work, fulfills a need and allows you to be doing something.

Another thing to realize is that convenience is something that we also take for granted, it is exactly as stated, a convenience. Meaning not everyone has it and not everyone gets to experience it, so by removing a convenience from our life we aren’t actually creating any problems we are simply just doing things differently. So what is convenient for us as North Americans doesn’t exist everywhere in the world. Fast food isn’t everywhere, laundry machines, elevators, escalators, cars, planes and so on don’t exist or are not commonly used everywhere. So what are you losing by removing a couple conveniences from your life? Well to be honest you are not losing anything, you are joining the majority of the population by doing things a more traditional, simpler way.

Something I am trying to implement recently is removing small everyday conveniences. The major one is hot showers, as someone who is environmentally conscious, financially conscious and just generally looking for ways to simplify this step makes perfect sense. The average shower takes upwards of 40 gallons of water, on top of that we heat the water using gas and then pump that, and none of this perfectly potable water is every reused. On top of that we all take long showers and have somehow determined that a shower needs to be upwards of 20 minutes, I understand relaxation but that is excessive. So by cutting out the hot water altogether and just having a cold shower what are we doing? Well we are removing the convenience of hot water, the cold water is better at waking you up as it is more of a shock to your system and you will be using less water since it is cold. It is not a pleasant to take cold showers which is not as convenient, which in theory would mean less time spent in the shower and more water saved. Also this means that when you travel or go anywhere without hot water it really won’t be all that different to you and the convenience factor disappears.

I moved into a house and was without gas for a good period of time in the late winter months. I wasn’t going to travel to a friends house for hot water everyday so I began to use the cold water and get used to that, it wasn’t so bad I mean the result of a shower is to awake, relax and essentially be clean. So that was still being done without much of a difference. It is definitely a shock to the system but it isn’t all that bad.

Point being that small inconveniences can lead to a simpler life and sometimes taking a bit to just focus on one task instead of being on the go is a nice change of pace. Your mind is open to different things and one of the benefits to simpler things like cold showers, home cooked meals, hand washed laundry is overall it is so much cheaper. For the people who are worried about finances simplicity can be beautiful. Just cutting away the convenient things can be good for anyone, it doesn’t matter really if you are rich or poor, it can be done by anyone. You will find an appreciation for your work and you will find that there is a great relaxing feeling of doing these things the simpler way.

As always have a great day, I hope you find some knowledge or inspiration in the things I write. Remember that a complex over the top lifestyle isn’t always the best lifestyle and although it is different from the general of North American society that does not mean it is wrong.
Thanks for reading!

Creating Minimalism in Your Life (Series)

One of my favourite aspects of life to explore is minimalism, ironically the idea is to be simple and small but yet it has so much to learn and there is so much to know. It is a fantastic style of life thought as there is so much it can do for someone. The basic concept is bringing your life to the bare essentials and the necessities, it focuses on making your life simpler and easier to deal with while retaining all the things you need. That is the focus, things you need not all the weird material possessions that exist. Do you need a 60 inch flat screen tv and an entire bookcase dedicated to movies? For most the answer is no, for some well then maybe this isn’t the lifestyle for you. Minimalism aims to make your home, or your space simple, stress free and comfortable. Cluttered homes tend to be stressful homes, that is just logical, if you have a lot of stuff, you have a lot to organize, clean and upkeep. This leads to stress because you are worried that everything has a place and everything is clean and it just takes over your life. Where as minimalism focuses on functionality mixed with simplicity.

Simplicity in a home is beautiful, it means everything is doing something, everything has a purpose and it frees up so much space. Which allows for more company, friends or activities to take place. As a young individual I appreciate this because my space is open and allows my creativity to flow a lot better. It takes a lot of work to achieve minimalism but do not let this discourage you because once you have this in your life everything is simpler, there is less work to be done, less upkeep needed and more time to enjoy your home as it was meant to be. When it comes to my home I need to sweep the floors every couple of days and do any leftover dishes, otherwise my chores are minimal.

The benefits to minimalism are clear, but let me run over a few so you can begin to consider it further. You have less clutter which in apartments or smaller homes can do wonders. You have less housework and therefore more time to do the things you enjoy. You have a beautiful space which means you can entertain and have house guests without worry of a mess. You may begin to have less furniture or less random pieces which allows for an open and free space. Finally your pieces are functional and serve a purpose which may mean intriguing furniture or nice functional space. Depending if you choose to live minimal and just have less or if you choose to live with minimal design you will have both an open and beautiful space.

This post is the beginning to a series of different aspects. I would like to cover all the different sectors of minimalism and how you can achieve it in your life. To put all of these into one article would be ridiculously long as I could go on for hours. So if you keep checking in this will be a series of 6 posts that will teach you how to achieve minimalism in your life. I will start with common places such as your living room and lobby, then move onto kitchens and bathrooms. A more intense and sentimental space is the bedroom so I will do an entire article on that and finally a minimalist wardrobe. These are my main aspect of this field and it is a lot to cover. Whether you want to take this on in your life or simply educate yourself on it I hope these posts prove to be of benefit.

Just a quick personal story for this topic. I began working on minimalist about 6 months ago and it has changed my life in so many wonderful ways. I feel better because instead of the “american dream” of big everything and material possessions I have meaningful things in my space. My house has become a place that I work, play and relax in. People enjoy coming over and being there because it is a comfortable space to hangout. It is simple, open and basic, it has everything you could need and a little bit extra. I don’t live minimalism to it’s fullest but I am certainly working on it. It has extended to my wardrobe and my lifestyle altogether. I am happy with what I have achieved and I love everything about it. I feel so much better knowing that I am both saving money and space by having functional pieces and just the essentials. I have managed to create a comfortable and beautiful space out of my house and made an attempt to let this stretch to all corners of my life. I hope that through these articles you can see the benefits and the great benefits to this and maybe you will take it on into your life. I hope to inspire more to see the greatness that is minimal and maybe through time and sharing we can alter the american dream to living good and living smart instead of living with excess.!

Check back for more on this series and I look forward to sharing more of this great concept with you!