Current currency crisis!

I had a post all planned out in my head, talking about getting back into the swing of moneyless living, or as near as possible, after my relatives had left also updating you all on the end of my personal soap embargo and new ways I’m trying to trim as many pennies/cents as possible from our bills. Then disaster hit!

Yup. I’ve started using soap again but am still saving water from my showers. Now though it is kept for flushing the toilet. I’ve finally given up my long hot showers, using as little water as possible; rinse-stop, soap-up, rinse-done. Another luxury that was hard to say farewell too. The flip side of this is not having enough water for flushing.

So, I’ve taken to peeing in the bidet and rinsing it clean after (with old shower water). That saves a huge amount of water, even with our modern dual high/low flush compact toilet.

Not ideal, and I find myself dreaming of a compost toilet – but that’s something for the future.

What else did I want to tell you all? Oh, we’re still really considering a microwave, but I couldn’t convince my other-half to get a secondhand one. Still not sure that I want or need one.

And – we’re finding it harder to resist turning the heating on. Currently the boiler is set to hot water only, the radiators are all off and we are using candles as a source of heat.

 

 

Luckily we had previously bought two Egloos, one for the living room and other the bedroom, due to the poor insulation in our old flat. These do a fantastic job in the new place, giving us a nice toasty home (well, two rooms), but the mornings are so chilly that I have to wrestle with myself not to start the gas-powered central heating. Maybe it’ll be a Sunday morning treat.

So, yeah. Back to that disaster. A friend who’d previously lent us some money, also a way of thanking us for help, which had helped us payoff our few mini-loans and credit card bills, suddenly claimed life or death and needed a big chunk of it back.

Our only option was to borrow more money, we’ve put it on the credit cards for now and have applied for a normal loan… we’re currently waiting to be finalised as we were pre-approved. Not a real disaster, but emotionally, spiritually and in respect of the way we want to live this is a fucking nightmare.

Well, what we had planned to save each month may now have to go towards clearing this debt for the next year or two. I was ready to quit, until realising I had no way out.

I’ve calmed down a lot, having accepted that personal loans from family and friends are as risky as bank loans. I’m not ready to give up and am even more determined to fight for my freedoms and rights to live without money.

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Tick, tock

I feel like bit of a yo-yo, determined that I don’t need or want a smartphone and any gadgets, gizmos or devices that consume more than is necessary.

Then I swing, like pendulum?, back to thinking maybe a smartphone and some devices that allow me to communicate for free isn’t such a bad idea. When I do the maths, if I had no mobile contract then I would make my money back in a little over a year!

Not bad, given the mobile I am looking at is designed to be repaired and live 5+ years. As for the portable-personal antennas, well I’d hope they could last just as long with proper care.

If I am going to spend my days wandering, foraging and losing myself in the forests and mountains, then there is a lot to be gained from an emergency communications system too. I can already negate the need to charge these, having sorted my renewable/free supply of power for a handful of things.

A ‘less-money’ lifestyle is very much a balancing act, sometimes spending in order to save. Ideally a little investment for a big return.

I wish these companies would make a repairable dumb phone which worked with your own antenna network, that would be ideal. So many of these new ideas for socially, environmentally and sustainable technologies all have one too many gimmicks, an app for your smartphone. Common, society needs to sort itself out. People need to divorce their mobiles and re-engage with reality.

At the moment I no longer have many electronics, less than I started with and the list is steadily growing short. The number of devices I use daily has dropped dramatically.

I use my camera when the mood to snap photos hits me, this was my partner’s camera so I feel that I should get brownie points for having a secondhand one. I only have my dumb phone now, having sold my tablet and smartphone, which I use a lot for work. And I have my computer (laptop) which I use for work, watching videos, reading the news and blogging. Then of course there’s the washing machine, fridge-freezer and occasionally the electric hob. Oh yeah and my eReader, I’d read about the environmental benefits of these once before. Given that any books I want will need to be shipped to me, often from the UK, I am very confident that once I’ve finished all 48 books, previously bought, then the carbon footprint has been balanced out. That said, I would in future prefer to buy secondhand books. Can anybody recommend a cheap-yet-green courier?

Having previously used a smart weighing scales, pedometer, fitness tracker, smartwatch, smartphone, tablet, laptop, printer, wireless mouse & keyboard, smart lights, TV, games consoles (one portable and two regular), VR headset, internet radio, action camera, coffee machine (2), kettle, oven, microwave*, hairdryer and a landline handset. Phew! What a list.

Don’t worry, these have or will all be sold, donated or recycled. Hence another swing to this indecisive pendulum, I do not want to increase my impact on the environment anymore, especially in terms of e-waste.

It’s not too late to pledge again on Kickstarter, but the clock is ticking. What to do!?!

 

*We haven’t bought one since moving house, I am yet to do some research and find out if it is a good/cheaper/greener option than the oven and hob. Although not as good as the wood stove, but sometimes starting a fire to heat milk is such a pain in the ass.

Wait, reset.

I feel that I’ve already gotten off topic on a few of my posts here, sure I wanna be self-sufficient and sustainable for the good of the planet. I have always been an environmentalist to some degree, even during my less green and more wasteful moments.

The reason I haven’t dedicated this blog purely to green issues is that it depresses me. I see waste and destruction everywhere, always have done. That’s why I studied Environmental Science and that’s why my family told me I think too much.

Perhaps they are right, and rather than get depressed about it I need to not over think things and simply act on them. I will try.

Focusing on my health, happiness and living within my means, on a much reduced salary (partly by choice), is the best way that I can help the planet.

I have fallen back into some old habits in such a short time and need to remind myself of why I started this blog, money and my hatred for it. Perhaps it is naive or immature to only blame money for creating the environmental destruction we see today. But you have to admit money creates the perfect conditions for the social and environmental apathy that riddles our societies today. Well, not counting those who do more harm by trying to do good. Yes, you. You social media junkies.

I wanted to support alternative companies and convinced myself that a Fairphone and some GoTennas were acceptable purchases, one is sustainable and socially responsible and the other allows me to save money and make use of the first.

No, no, no. Damn! We are all so brainwashed to buy, spend, dispose and buy again. It is crazy. I do not need nor want a smartphone (no matter how like-minded the manufacturer and I are). Neither do I want or need to use social media. Where better to share my photos and ideas than right here.

It was my patient partner who made me realise that I’d fallen into the trap of commercialism when he made our new dinning table, from pieces recused from being dumped. One main piece was a beautiful antique but very weather-beaten set of legs, the others were a mix of pallets, wood and chipboard used to transport fittings for a new shop.

There’s that waste issue again, so much wood wasted after one use. Need to shake of the sadness and anger. The positive, an entirely free and repurposed dinning table for us. :-)

So as before, I have cancelled my funding for GoTenna on Kickstarter and my order for a Fairphone 2. It’s a little late to return the fancy cooker that generates power (a BioLite BaseCamp), but this is something that I need, use and can just about justify. Good luck to those who need fancy devices, there are some great companies out there producing products that are better for the environment and good for people wanting to be more self-sufficient/to go off-grid. But let’s face it, everything we make is bad for the planet no matter how green it is. I, however, am happy with my modest dumb Doro phone.

Vedo, Vedon’t

I had previously planned out a post explaining my plans for trying veganism for a few weeks, with the idea of then reintroducing some animal products into my diet to become vegetarian longer term.

I didn’t want to rush into this, and hesitated for a long time in publishing that original post. I wasn’t going to do any prep, and wanted to share my discoveries, cock-ups and wins as they occurred. I’ve never tried this lifestyle before, so there were sure to be plenty of the above.

I felt more and more inspired to try the vegan-thing longer term, especially after seeing a documentary called ‘Cowspiracy‘. I was determined that this would be the last thing I watched on the last day my Netflix subscription was active. I had other documentaries that would possibly be a good watch too, but this one appealed most and had been in my to watch list for the longest.

Holy cow! Wow, what a mess. We really are fucking up the planet, aren’t we.

I was shocked by how bad it was. Eggs, no? Even they are not efficient, never mind self-sufficient or sustainable. That was that, I would go veggie ASAP and ease myself into a permanent vegan diet. I started working on it immediately, I even cancelled my plans to establish a chicken coop and try to produce my own eggs.

We never eat that much meat but I cooked up what little we had so that I could start my new meatless meals the next morning.

It could have been that slight indulgence of a meat-heavy meal (no chance was I wasting any more food) or it could have been when I stubbed my toe or when I polished off the beers… I can’t be sure. One or a combination of these actions has left me in bed and/or hobbling in agony with an attack of gout for a week.

Yeah, yeah. I know most people assume gout is the result of a luxurious diet and a lifestyle to match and yet that isn’t always the case. Sure I could lose some weight, but I had been doing so since starting this lifestyle. Less time on the sofa watching telly and more time exploring/foraging in the forest and tending to my garden in preparation for growing some fruit and veg. That in itself could have been another reason for the attack, although I hadn’t lost weight too quickly.

No, it turns out that I am genetically predisposed to having such a problem. :-( Bollocks!
And it turns out that vegan diets can be pretty bad for people with risk of gout attacks.

Vegetarian diets are potentially the best and most effective way to avoid recurring, agonising, potentially ruinous pain. A week without being able to find firewood, prep the veggies or stand up for long periods. Gout is certainly not for the self-sufficient.

So I searched out a low purine diet or gout diet. The first two items on the green list? Eggs and cheese. Double bollocks!

Sometime between finishing the documentary and feeling like my foot had exploded, I saw an article pop-up on the BBC. ‘What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian?

Basically the article goes into details of ecosystems that have developed and thrived as a result of animal farming, of cultures that depend on their cattle, on jobs that would be lost and other negative impacts of giving up meat on a global scale. It too mentioned the benefits, also mentioned in Cowspiracy, the need for less agricultural land and a return of more wild spaces. It did point out one simple truth. A field will not necessarily become a forest if it is merely abandoned by farmers. Sometimes plants and animals need humans to reintroduce them and help them get reestablished.

For 7 billion people to suddenly make the switch overnight, as I did, is not a very likely event. To demonize all animal husbandry is not the answer either.

Perhaps the better solution is a progressive move from a meat-eating world to a semi-vegetarian one and soon, sometime in the very near future.

Who knows, moving forward again and a switch to a semi-vegan world with a smaller proportion of omnivores and a majority of vegetarians could just work.

As for myself, I will be going vegetarian from this very moment. I will look again toward getting my own chickens for a personal, organic and healthy supply of eggs.

What about cheese? I’m pretty sure I’d lose my house if I tried getting a goat. I’ll be off to the farmers’ market to seek out some organic producers, once I can walk without screaming the walls down.

the void

Filling the void can be a bit of a challenge, I still watch too much telly but at least now it is poor quality, free TV full of adverts for crap we do not really need. I am reading a lot more, luckily I have accumulated a backlog of books that I “never have time to read”.

Obviously spending no time on social media, not watching endless back to back shows and films on Netflix and no longer aimlessly browsing the net for no reason or shopping for more crap has freed up a lot of my time for reading, gardening, cooking and sitting wondering if this is a path I really want to take.

I am confronted with the open endlessness of a future I am unsure about, in a place I really like but that is no longer where I want to be. My partner was rejected a visa for the UK and so we haven’t been able to visit, let alone move there.

I guess like any addiction, money is not an easy one to kick. Partly though, it isn’t easy to think that I am choosing to return to a situation that was difficult, almost ruined my relationship and left me stressed for several years.

Well, no. Not really the same situation, and hopefully a much better one than we would otherwise have. I am not planning to give away all our excess money, instead I will save this up for the future and for a rainy day.

One thing that I am struggling with, is giving up a visit home to the folks. My partner had already booked flights home, the first time in five years. Having to travel so far means tickets cost much more and hence the infrequency. Perhaps I am a little jealous that he gets to go away and visit different parts of his home country for two months, when I usually get three days at my parent’s house.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the chance to have as much time with mum and dad as possible. It is simply my inner-nomad that is crying out to go somewhere different.

I have also felt bummed-out by my failed attempts at reviving my old laptop, with the hope of selling my newer one. Some instant cash and a chance to recycle something that feels a little extravagant. Basically I got Ubuntu installed, after a day of struggling to fix hardware and corrupt files, only to find out that it is incompatible with my work’s website. Arrggghhhh!

My reaction was to go around the house like a madman, unplugging everything! I was glad to discover that my solar charger can fully charge my phone and my e-reader.

I’ll talk about the Kindle another time. I switched to a dumb phone for a week or so but in the end I had to switch back to a smartphone for work. So I dug out my old iPhone 3G, with the same idea being that I can get more and find a buyer more easily for my new phone.

The number of apps I can have is limited, I was pleased with myself to resist the temptation of some others I used too often.

Another downer was finishing Mark Boyle’s book, to have him talk about the importance of those around you. I have my partner and a friend. That’s about it.

Neither of them understand or support me at this stage, and so I feel like I am being pressured to give up. Whatever happens, we need to spend less and save some money. We’ve no pension and no savings. This will hopefully be the arguments to win over my partner.

Watch this space…