welcome to DEEP GREEN blog!

Greetings! This blog is dedicated to helping you reduce your eco-footprint for personal and planetary benefit.

Although a low-footprint lifestyle is fun and rewarding, it is not always easy, even if you are doing it for your own benefit (for example, to attain financial freedom; to free up your time; to radically simplify your life so you can focus on what really matters to you.) The dominant mainstream culture has waste and hyper-consumerism baked into every layer of life. A person setting out to live light on the earth encounters many obstacles both physical and cultural. (Car-dependent housing developments; unavoidable single-use plastics; buildings designed to require climate control 24-7 … to name just a few.)

That’s where this blog comes in. I’m here to offer you tips, resources, and moral support. The posts aren’t in any particular order; I write about things as they pop into my mind. If you’re new here, you might find it helpful to start by reading these posts:

Cultural Roots of the Eco Crisis

Footprint Isn’t Everything

You could also start by reading my book DEEP GREEN, a concise orderly guide to crafting your own ultra-low-footprint lifestyle. You can read it for free here on this blog; and you can order your own print copy as well. Also, since the book was published way back in 2017, I have added a 2023 preface (which is currently available only here online since I didn’t get it done before deciding to make a mini print run of 50 copies for the FRESH Book Festival).

A final note: I don’t post here every day. I might even go weeks or months without posting. Important as writing is to my mission, it’s only one of my channels for actualizing the “Grassroots Green Mobilization.” Whether or not you see new posts on this blog, I am always active and always here for you. You can engage with me on Facebook or Twitter; you can email or call me; you can book me to give a talk, presentation, or workshop for your group.

Enjoy this blog, and thanks for helping me create a kinder, saner, greener world!

Rainwater collection is NOT illegal!!!

Sorry if I sound cranky, but if one more person tells me this … It’s crazy! How did this rumor get started, and why do so many people go along with it without questioning it? Because I promise you, if they were to make rainwater collection illegal I would launch a massive civil disobedience action. And I hope others would too!!

Like, really? The government says that rainwater collection is illegal and we say… “Oh, OK. We just won’t collect rainwater even though municipal supplies can go down anytime, leaving us totally without water. We’ll just go along with purchasing bottled water from corporate leeches that are draining the aquifers and clogging the oceans and rivers with plastic trash. We just won’t collect and use rainwater even though drought-flood cycles are getting more and more severe.”

Yeah, NO.

Fortunately, rainwater collection is not illegal. At least not in the USA, and I imagine if it’s not illegal here in the land of senseless bureaucracy it’s probably not illegal in most places — but I’ll have to look into that. In some US states it’s even incentivized. Now, there are some US states where there are restrictions. Mostly these restrictions seem to be in the drier states, and from what I have read, they are meant to prevent people from hoarding large amounts of water, diverting rivers, etc.

Do you know what’s interesting, though — there are apparently no restrictions on collecting rainwater in Arizona, of all places. One of the driest places on earth. If it’s not restricted there, seems like it shouldn’t need to be restricted anywhere.

I have heard that, in some dry states that restrict rainwater collection, it has to do with money. As in, all the water has been pre-sold downriver to the utilities, so if a person is collecting water from the sky, they are taking away the revenue of the water company. Ewwww!!! I don’t know, sounds like protest time to me.

There is mention of some states restricting rainwater for drinking use. Like, it’s OK to collect rain in a barrel to water your yard, but not OK to drink it. Supposedly the reason for that is that the water can contain animal feces or other impurities. But I say that can happen with any water. And, it’s easy enough to filter one’s water. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the powers-that-be just don’t want the masses to know that we can get our own water and filter it and not have to rely on a centralized supply.

Anyway!! Once again, rainwater collection is not illegal. Please help me spread the word, as this noxious rumor has been going around like wildfire for years. Seriously, if I had a gallon of water for every time I’ve heard that “rainwater collection is illegal,” I would be able to grow banana trees and bamboo in Death Valley.

PS. Always question stuff like this! Don’t just go along with it so easily!

Further exploration:

States Where It Is Illegal To Collect Rainwater (wisevoter.com): “There is no state in the US where collecting rainwater is illegal, but there are states that have restrictions around rainwater collection. … The reasons for the restrictions on rainwater collection vary but are often related to concerns over water rights, water quality, and the potential impact on downstream water users.”

• The best books and website I know of about all aspects of harvesting rainwater: Brad Lancaster’s website, harvestingrainwater.com Brad is based in Tucson Arizona. Where they get only like 11 inches of rainfall a year, and yet, according to Brad, if it’s harvested wisely it would be enough to serve all the needs of every single resident of Tucson. Enough said! You will love Brad’s YouTube videos, books, and writings.

• Brad has a whole channel on YouTube. Great stuff! This video is one in particular that I recommend. “Planting the Rain To Grow Abundance.” A TEDx Tucson talk; very engaging 16-minute overview. I always assign this as pre-homework to people attending my talks and classes on rainwater collection.

Occupational privilege

Someone in my feed posted about privilege. They mentioned that they had encouraged a friend to take more risks in his career. To which the friend responded, I am supporting my wife, my kids, my parents, and a sibling. If I mess up we are out on the street.

This is something we always have to keep in mind when encouraging people to take risks. Not everyone is in the privileged position of being able to afford to take risks.

Good news though!!! We can help!!! Those of us who are in a position to do so can help reduce the risk for our friends/family members who might want to try to explore a different livelihood. A lot of time, the livelihoods people want in their hearts are better for the planet and their community than whatever they’re doing right now for steady money.

Therefore, by helping these people, we are helping communities and the planet also, in addition to helping our friends.

Those of us who are in a position to do so could, for example, help a friend or family member pay off student loans or medical debt. Give a friend a free or super inexpensive place to live in our houses. (Some people have extra rooms or even entire extra houses that are usually not occupied.) And we can help them pay for training for their desired occupation. Or, if it’s a self-worth issue rather than a training issue, we can help them access that type of support, therapy, and so on.

You could buy them a book or a consulting session about how to transition to entrepreneurship. Or (and) maybe a session with an alternative finance coach.

There are no guarantees in life, even with the so-called “safe and reliable” occupations. Jobs can disappear anytime. We can offer encouragement and support in various ways so that a person can explore more meaningful paths without unnecessarily risking their family’s security. We only go around once, at least in this lifetime. Everyone deserves the chance to explore and be able to do meaningful work.

Don’t have any extra money or other surplus material resources to help? No problem! There are many other ways you can help a friend spring themselves from the rat-race treadmill.

We can use our social connections to introduce our friend to someone who’s working in their target occupation. Someone they could talk to in order to get some inside information and tips.

We can also offer them any professional services of our own that might help their business. For example, are you good at Web design? Publicity? Bookkeeping? Merchandising? Writing ad copy? Whatever your skills are, you might be surprised at how useful they could be to your friend, family member, community member who’s trying to launch a regenerative community business.

And we can point our friend or family member to free websites, YouTube or TikTok videos, and other free resources relevant to their quest.

On that note, I recommend Mike’s platforms, Laura’s platforms, Eric’s platforms, and (when they or you are able/ready to invest $40), the book we co-authored, Growing FREE (Financially Resilient and Economically Empowered).

Spiritual consumerism

In a class I recently co-taught (with Mike and Laura and Eric), I mentioned spiritual consumerism. It’s something that’s easy to fall into, as we are in a colonizer consumerist culture. The culture we were born into has used “employment” and buying stuff and having stuff as a substitute for community and spirituality. Accordingly, as we start to extricate ourselves from building our lives around “jobs” and consumerism, the spiritual void within oneself often becomes more gapingly obvious.

And it seems like there are a lot of people out there who are trying to fill that void with a hodgepodge mishmash of spiritual practices that are taken out of context of the cultures and communities where they came from.

So we have yoga bossbabes, gringo-run ayahuasca retreat centers, new age pocahontas cosplayers selling “dreamcatchers,” etc.

This stuff always felt cringey to me. I do think exploring spirituality is a beneficial thing, but we have to be mindful of where it crosses over into cultural appropriation and spiritual tourism. I like to listen to what people from the cultures where the practices originated from have to say about it.

If you’re curious, I suggest searching “cultural appropriation” on TikTok (or other platforms, or just google if you can’t access TikTok) and listening to what indigenous peoples have to say on this topic. Yoga + cultural appropriation, ayahuasca + cultural appropriation, dreamcatchers + cultural appropriation, etc.

Exploring spirituality is a good thing and something we need more of to counter the deadly effects of capitalist / colonizer culture. And we will be taking a step forward if we can manage to fully internalize the worldview that all of life is interconnected, and all species have just as much right to exist as humans do. (That’s actually the second ethic of permaculture design: Care of people and all other species.) But we can learn a lot just by listening; there’s no need to take what isn’t ours.

It’s even possible to participate directly in indigenous rituals and practices without appropriating. Questions we should ask ourselves include: Have we been invited? And if money or other payment is involved, is it going to indigenous peoples? And, can we participate without causing ecological damage (like, for example, from large numbers of people traveling to the Amazon). And, Do we refrain from setting ourselves up as authorities of other cultures’ spiritual practices? And, Do we go beyond just using it for our own personal feeling good, and actually use the sense of spiritual groundedness and liberation to further our activism; work for the greater good? Do we avoid spiritual bypassing?

The white colonizer culture is spiritually empty, but stealing from other cultures is not the answer. We have to look into our own roots, look within, connect with the bioregions where we live, etc.

“Microdosing” to ease the pain of modern life isn’t the answer either. What happened to looking deeper at what’s making life so hard in general, and trying to help make a better world for everyone, as opposed to just trying to adjust our own mood? Again, there people go trying to find substitutes for community and genuine spiritual transcendence.

What if these moms were instead to get together and rebel against the things that are making their life suck so much?

This morning I found a set of two videos by Alquimista, an indigenous Guaraní sister on TikTok. She offers a summary that I found helpful.

Gatekeeping or Resistance? Part 1: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT8636Xbv/v

Gatekeeping or Resistance? Part 2: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT8635N37/

This blog post was sparked by a thread that Mike started on his page. Some of the responses gave a lot of pushback. One person asked why are white people trying to gatekeep indigenous practices?

But, white people cannot ever gatekeep indigenous practices. What we white people can do, unfortunately, is a lot of damage. By appropriating and commercializing indigenous cultures and spiritual practices, we take resources away from the original cultures, dilute the intent and power of the practices, and in many cases damage ecosystems and contribute to the erasure of indigenous cultures.

My take is that what some people see as “white people trying to gatekeep,” is actually those of us who have taken some kind of leadership in the Permaculture community trying to call out when we see this kind of thing happening in the community, because it’s really not what permaculture is supposed to be about and yet it is so prevalent.

I think when Mollison ridiculed and warned against “woo woo” creeping into permaculture, this kind of thing is what he meant. I have no doubt that Mollison himself had lots of deep spiritual experiences, but that he had them through connection with fellow beings and ecosystems rather than using some hodgepodge of appropriated trinkets and stuff.

#spiritualtourism #culturalappropriation #culturalerasure

Career transition Q; existential angst underlying everything

Lots of people out there are trying to transition to an occupation that’s closer to the earth, better for the planet, better for community.

Someone in one of the groups (Deep Adaptation on Facebook) posed the question, “What did you used to do, and how did you come to transition to what you do now?”

My answer: Way back in the olden days, I did desk jobs. Editing, translation. The way I transitioned was around 2005 I started taking permaculture training, attending permaculture events, volunteering on local urban farms, taking peace training etc — and that made me less and less able to tolerate working a pure desk job with little benefit to society, plus it helped me zero in on what kinds of work I really wanted to do.

What I do now:

For some years now I have been a self-employed eco-educator. Writing; teaching various kinds of workshops (a wide range from composting to consciousness!); making art/crafts; speaking. And in the past five years I added an eco-landscaping business to my mix of occupations.

And as of this past year, I am an end-of-life Doula in training.

Because the business model I chose for the landscaping aspect of my work is gentle and human-scale, and includes sharing a lot of business with young practitioners, I expect that I will be able to do this landscaping work even in old age if I choose.

I also do occasional house cleaning jobs, using eco-friendly techniques and materials.

The person who started the thread, asking people for ideas on how he might transition to a sustainable occupation, mentioned that he had experience in construction and boat repair from his younger days, even though he has been working in an office for most of his life.

I responded: I imagine there are always a lot of boats that need repairing! A neighbor of mine stayed constantly busy that way, and also with minor home repairs. (I expect he is still staying busy those ways; he’s just not my neighbor anymore bc he moved across the state.)

Do not underestimate the number of people out there who are looking for someone to do super basic installations and repairs. If what I read on next-door is anything to go by, just about anybody handy could make a living just by being their neighborhood handy-person. Being older and experienced is a plus in this case, as there are a lot of fly-by-night people calling themselves businesses.

Also: People talk a lot about when electricity disappears, when fossil fuels disappear etc. There is really no telling how/ when that will actually happen. And if it does, it’s not likely to be sudden. But, regardless, just about every type of machine that we now run on fossil fuels used to be run mechanically (by gravity, water flow, etc) / or manually. So there will be always a need for people who know how to retrofit machinery to be nature-powered / people-powered. Probably it’s a lot of the same people who know how to do basic mechanical stuff — small engine repair, etc.

And (I keep adding new thoughts as they come to me): A lot of people in these kind of groups express concerns along the lines of “When collapse happens and people will no longer be willing to pay for my professional services.”

First, I think our human brains just have a tendency to imagine super sudden finite events; it might be easier for us to wrap our brain around a sudden “collapse” than some gradual thing. But it seems just as likely that a gradual thing is exactly what’s happening.

Regardless, just because we move to a less money-based system does not mean the need for most occupations will suddenly just go away. I think deep down what a lot of us are worried about is, to sum it up in a very primal way, “Unless I’m really great at growing food, my existence is not going to be deemed worthy of supporting and nobody is going to be willing to keep me around.” I think particularly a lot of us older people feel that.

And for that primal worry, the cure isn’t to go move out onto some vast acreage and start clearing the forest and trying to grow vegetables; it’s to address the internal, emotional issue of worth within ourselves. We have created a culture where people are not seen as having inherent worth. That’s what we have to work on. We should remind ourselves of how each person around us is precious and irreplaceable.

Our (capitalist, colonizer) society is spiritually ill, and any of us who are on a sort of metaphysical or spiritual path have a role to play in healing the collective rift between our earth-based existence and our existence as spiritual beings.

And besides, a lot of things that aren’t considered professions or occupations right now are always going to be needed. Really basic stuff like carrying water, hauling stuff, keeping an eye on things, keeping an eye on kids, keeping an eye on animals. Actually, a lot of people right now are doing businesses around all of those activities. And it’s certainly not going to go away just because the formal money economy collapses (if that even happens).

One “occupation” that has always existed is “elder.” Person who knows stuff and is a resource just because they have lived longer. This role has fallen by the wayside in our present-day society, but it’s not gone, and in a less money-based society it will only get back to being a bigger thing.

Super condensed nutshell:

• Material remedy for the aforedescribed angst: Reduce, to a bare minimum, the amount of money you need to live. (And no this does not mean depriving yourself of treats. Do distinguish wants from needs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to indulge some wants.)

• Emotional/spiritual remedy for the aforedescribed angst: Make plenty of time for people and relationships. Make people and relationships the most important thing in your life, second only to your connection with God, higher power, spirit, the eternal — whatever you call it.

Finally, a word about spirituality; spiritual practices. The only spiritual practices I know that are truly effective are ones that include a healthy process of confession and atonement. First thing I ran across in my life that was effective was a 12-step program which I got into as a young adult. The 12 steps include a searching and fearless moral inventory, confession, and amends. It was life-changing, no exaggeration.

Later on, when a friend introduced me to the Avatar Course, I found the compassion and integrity and forgiveness work in the Avatar materials to be extremely deep and effective, and I use those tools on an everyday basis.

Since today is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, I got curious about how my Jewish friends do their confessions. I had heard that their process includes collective confession and atonement, not just personal. I searched and found this page about Yom Kippur confession. Good stuff.

Eco yards in the news

Yes, more and more, the eco-yard trend is making the mainstream news, even making it into glossy mags and the fancy weekend magazine sections of newspapers. Here’s a nice article in Washingtonian magazine. People Are Forgoing Classic Grass Lawns for Eco-friendly Native-Plant-Filled Gardens.

“Rhodes is part of a growing movement of US homeowners questioning the supremacy of the all-grass yard, aided by an increasing number of pollinator-­friendly state and local laws. Lawns still dominate — the Lower 48 contains 40 million acres of lawn, making turf grass, by area, the biggest irrigated crop in the country. But gardens have been gaining momentum: In 2020, the National Wildlife Federation reported a 50-percent increase in registered Certified Wildlife Habitat gardens and saw a fivefold jump in the number of people searching wildlife gardening tips online.”

Even the Wall Street Journal has an article.

“‘Rewilding is returning land to a more natural state,’ says Allison Messner, co-founder and CEO of Yardzen, a landscape design company with clients nationwide. Rewilding a yard typically involves introducing regionally appropriate plants, also called native plants, and fostering habitats for local wildlife. People come to the practice for myriad reasons. Some people want to support pollinators; some want to avoid water-guzzlers; others want to signal they are climate conscious. But the overarching purpose is universal: to encourage the flourishing of natural ecosystems and to mitigate the effects of habitat loss and climate change.”

(The WSJ article is titled “Meet the Homeowners Spending Tens of Thousands to Let Their Lawns Go Wild” — But Homegrown National Park, which shared the article on its public Facebook page, emphasizes that one need not spend nearly as much. It is in fact possible to get plants for free in many cases just by talking to one’s likeminded neighbors. I will say, in my experience, as one who did one year spend probably a couple thousand dollars on plants to get my yard jumpstarted, that the investment upfront more than pays for itself as none of the typical gas-powered, chemical-laden maintenance is needed.)

And on this subject of natural yards, we need to stop treating HOA’s like they are the laws of physics or the laws of the land.

We also need to set about the possibly scary business of entering into dialogue with our local code enforcement officials. I have started doing it, and surprise surprise, they are actually human beings who are more willing to listen than I expected. I actually had a code enforcement officer advise me — advise citizens in general — to not just go with what code enforcement says but to actually enter into a conversation and explain what we are trying to do.

Same with our neighbors’ manicured yard preferences. We need to stop being so cowed by what our neighbors think, stop being so apologetic about our yards.

We don’t have to be unpleasant, but we can acknowledge to ourselves that we hate their chemical manicured yards too! Aesthetics is a two-way street. And after all, our aesthetic preferences actually have an ecological and scientific basis.

Grass-kissers talk a lot about “curb appeal is important” — as if a natural yard has no curb appeal. To which we could respond: Curb appeal is important to me! I despise the look of manicured chemical landscaping, it has zero curb appeal. Realtors and developers take note too please!

Here are some very recent photos of my coastal dunescape yard.

Those were the more dune side; this is the more forest-y side.


Public service announcement: Covid still exists. I think most of us have noticed that there has been a resurgence.

Tested positive yesterday morn. All week I have had what I thought was the flu, but the past 2 days I had been feeling better: able to move around, do writing tasks, do work in my outdoor landscaping showroom, go for a dip in the ocean.

But suddenly this morning I noticed that I couldn’t smell or taste anything, so I took a test.

Next time anyone thinks I’m being too cautious for suggesting that it’s best to stick to virtual and/or outdoor mode for gatherings, I’m going to remember this day!!

People in most other parts of the world manage to have church services and business meetings and all sorts of other events outdoors — we can too!

And for people who say it’s not the same when it’s not in person, oh well. The Supreme Court managed to hold deliberations by telephone; we can manage to do stuff without being face-to-face.

People are always like wahhh wahhh but I miss seeing people; wahh wahh It’s not the same by Zoom etc.

It may not be the same, but I’ll take it!! Better than ending up in the hospital.

Plus I see tons of people every day. Plenty of human contact. People who aren’t seeing people just maybe need to go outside more.

And yes I am hard-core isolating to avoid spreading germs.

Peace out everyone, and hoping you stay Covid-free! This stuff is nothing to mess with even if you are usually healthy.

PS. Although I have not enjoyed losing my senses of taste and smell, I have noticed one very beneficial effect. And that is that I am less likely to eat more than my body needs. If I can’t taste things, then it becomes more obvious to me when my stomach is full. It’s kind of cool only having one variable to concentrate on, instead of additionally having my taste buds giving me feedback that sometimes conflicts with the fullness of my stomach ha ha. I have been having to pay more attention to portion size over the past couple of years, as I get older and my digestion becomes more sensitive. So maybe I can look at this Covid spell as a temporary training period for “sensible eating practices for a middle-aged body.”

A Degrowth presidential candidate!

Don’t look now but it looks like we have a #Degrowth – minded candidate for president!

(Copy-pasted from The Great Simplification group)

Breaking News! GrowthBusters executive director Dave Gardner will be announcing his candidacy for US President in 2024!

I’m running for U.S. President so I can tell the public the truth about why our system is failing us and our continued existence on the planet is so tenuous. It’s an emergency that calls for clear, decisive, leadership and all-hands-on-deck action. This is not a time for compromise and half-steps. We will make no more dead-planet decisions. Only bright-future pathways will be chosen.

On day one I’ll declare a national emergency and mobilize government, business, media and the public in an urgent project to shrink our nation’s ecological footprint:

  • contract GDP
  • decarbonize and go on an energy diet
  • work less
  • consume less
  • support and accelerate the current trend toward choosing smaller families

We’ll implement new priorities and programs. We’ll build a healthy 21st century economy based not on growth and ever-increasing material wealth, but on needs met and partnership with nature.

We’ll come together to ensure full employment and food and shelter for all. We’ll nurture community-level collaboration. We’ll soon discover the joy of ending our enslavement to the rat race of an outdated grow-at-any-cost paradigm.

Some thoughts I have:

Here in the USA when people vote for a candidate outside the two major parties, they often get accused of spoiling the election because we’re supposed to be voting for the less bad candidate in the established parties. It’s always a dilemma. However I am still happy at this news! I guess I always hold out hope that someone like this could become a running mate of someone one of the more progressive candidates in one of the main parties.

His only political experience is running for office in his local area. As far as I’m concerned that’s fine (after all, look where longtime political insiders have gotten us), as long as he knows how to assemble teams and work with people.

Further Exploration:

Dave Gardner website: https://davetheplanet2024.com

New Candidate for US President Wants To Shrink Economy (news provided by Dave Gardner for president election committee; to prnewswire.com)

• A live Campaign Launch Webcast is planned for September 19. https://streamyard.com/watch/ZuiMPhgbxJFY Public and press are invited to attend and ask questions.