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!

YANA You Are Not Alone

(Starting a compilation of online, worldwide groups that are supporting people emotionally/spiritually regarding the eco/social crisis. This support helps us to become more effective in nurturing and supporting our local communities.)

1. Collapse Club (The following is from Collapse Club’s website)

“At Collapse Club, we gather to answer the question: “How are we to live in the time of collapse?”

“To Attend a Meeting

“If you have not already attended a meeting, please sign up to receive the Zoom link. If you have already attended a meeting, you’ll get the link in a reminder email.

“A Sense of Belonging

“In this time of crisis and catastrophe, our comfort is to be with other people who understand what we’re going through. In a Collapse Club meeting, you will join like-minded people in a safe, structured space to share your experience of collapse and to cultivate communal wisdom.

“We hold three meetings per week, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You are welcome at any or all. Meetings are free and without obligation.

“Benefits of a Collapse Club meeting:

  • Relief from isolationYou are not alone.
  • Be heardExpress and process your feelings.
  • Receive empathy and supportWe are people who understand.
  • Learn from others’ experienceWe’re going through it, too.
  • Participate in a communal search for meaningWe’re all on the path.

How do meetings work?

We have a simple agenda built around questions which invite you to share your personal experience of collapse:

  1. Check-In – What have you noticed about collapse this week?
  2. Circles – How are you living with collapse? 
  3. Glimmers – What brings you joy in the midst of collapse?

In our meetings, we want to hear about your personal lived experience. We are not discussing theories or politics, and if we talk about the news we focus on how it impacts our personal lives. We are interested in you personally, because it is from your personal lived experience that all thinking and action emerge.

For a detailed description of how our meetings work, please visit our Meeting Flow page.

Search tag: CollapseClub”

“But isn’t rainwater collection illegal?”

NO. No, it is not. I keep trying to dispel this widespread misconception. But it doesn’t seem to sink in, so I will keep trying to spread the word.

Following is a link to an article that sums up the current regulations, state by state, for each state of the USA. (Other countries have few or no restrictions, I gather.)

Is it Illegal to Collect Rainwater: 2024 Complete State Guide” (Jeremiah Zac; on worldwaterreserve.com; updated January 5, 2024.)

“Is rainwater collection illegal?”

“Many US states encourage rainwater harvesting but a few have limits due to local conditions.”

As the article mentions, the most restrictive state is Colorado, where people are only allowed to collect a total of 110 gallons at a time. A few states require engineering and or permits and such, but most states do not.

Also note, they are only talking about what we collect in barrels and other containers. As Brad Lancaster and other experts have often told us, what we collect in containers is just a tiny fraction of what we can easily collect on the land with simple micro earthworks. And most of the rainwater we’d be collecting would be for use on trees, plants, the land anyway. What we need for drinking and cooking is a relatively small quantity. And what we need for a bathing can and should be adjusted closely to local conditions. If you live in the desert, you develop very radical modes of water conservation while staying clean.

The best way to collect most of the rainwater we need is through healthy soil and plants.

By the way, if you do happen to live in a place where there are extreme restrictions on collecting rainwater, I would suggest you either move if you can; or make it your business to get the restrictions eased. This is an essential issue.

But, how did this widespread misconception get started? Check out the following article:

Rainwater Collection Leads to Jail Sentence? How News Headlines Get it Wrong” (Chris Maxwell-Gaines; watercache.com)

Long story short:

“Let’s get this straight… rainwater collection will not get you arrested. Illegally impounding a tributary and damming millions of gallons of water that by law belongs to the state… will get you arrested. (Tweet this) There is a huge difference here.”

Vehicular maintenance

(Post from July 6.)

Just paid my major repair and maintenance bill for the year for my vehicle, which is my main mode of transport besides walking. Grand total $380 + change. Sometimes even lasts two years.

Special thank you to Votran bus system. The closest bicycle shops are 7 miles away in either direction, so being able to put a bicycle onto the rack on the front of the bus and then ride the bus to the bicycle shop is a lifesaver!

See pix here.

(Bus route info: I take the 19 which goes north up the A1A and then across Granada bridge to the bike shop, which is on Granada across the street from Winn-Dixie. And then to get home I take the 3B down Ridgewood. Today I was able to ride my bicycle partway home down Ridgewood, before my shoulder started telling me I better grab the bus the rest of the way. My shoulder is doing great compared with last week, and I’m not going to push my luck.)

Response to questions and comments:

• Response to a fellow activist commending me for “replacing car trips,” and asking me to post more often about my bicycle riding:

Thanks!

1- I don’t actually “replace” car trips; I simply do not own a car. Nor want to. I have better things to do with $20 to 50k to buy one, plus $12,000 a year to operate one. (When there is someplace I need to go that I cannot safely get to by bicycle, and the bus does not go there, I pay a friend/neighbor to be my taxi. Usually ends up costing me a total of about $100 to $200 a year for rides. Very affordable, And I am helping a friend pay their bills.)

2- Actually too many people are aware that I get around by foot & bicycle, and it causes various issues. I don’t end up being a beneficial influence. So, in my public communications, I prefer to focus mainly on the advocacy aspect. For example, I have been making public posts inviting people to the upcoming meetup of Walkable Volusia. And, I frequently speak at city commission and citizen board meetings regarding transit-friendly zoning and planning, pedestrian-friendly downtowns, Boosting awareness of the importance of Street trees, and so on.

• To someone praising me as a role model for using bicycle and public transport:

Well, the backstory is that I do not make enough money to have both a car and a roof over my head. (Well, technically I could, but then I would have to give up too many things that I love in life, including volunteering, and donating to worthwhile causes. And, being able to spend more money with Florida farms, local businesses, instead of having to shop at big-box stores.) Never have made that much money. But I wouldn’t trade my work for anything. So it’s very fortunate for me that I genuinely do not want a car.

Some people have told me that for them it’s better to have a car if you have to choose between car and housing, because you could always live in the car. But in my experience, living in a vehicle is not all that easy. (I have only done it for very very short stints, and it was always my choice and I was not forced into it, unlike many other people.) Not because of the small space but because there are fewer and fewer places to park where a person doesn’t risk getting arrested. Plus I know so many people who are living in their vehicles and then the vehicle breaks down.

At least with a house or apartment, a person can have housemates to share the rent or mortgage. Not as easy to do that with a car.

And regarding motorcycles, I love riding them but I realized that for a person starting out at my age, it is not a smart hobby. So I took the FDOT course a couple years ago, got my motorcycle endorsement added to my license, and had a fun year of motorcycle ownership and then sold the bike.

Yes, I like not being forced to own a car! And I love being able to do better things with that money. Unfortunately, a lot of people are basically forced to own a car. It takes a huge bite out of the wallet and causes enormous amounts of stress.

Shell necklace 1976

When I was 13 or 14, I found bunches and bunches of tiny shells on the beach in Massachusetts (a beach where we would go when we would visit my grandparents – Mom’s side). The shells were inside of these interesting-looking strings of gray-yellow translucent casings that I saw and got curious about. I broke one open, and found that each little chamber would have like 50 or 100 tiny shells in it!

I allowed the little shells to dry out, and then very patiently strung them on thread using a fine needle. The resulting double-strand necklace has held up surprisingly well and was one of my favorite necklaces for many decades.

Well, fast-forward almost 50 years later, I find out that what I had assumed were empty shells were baby whelks. Little tiny baby whelks. I’m sorry, little babies!

How I found out: Recently, after all this time, I got curious and searched around on the web and found this article. (“Whelks and whelk management” from the mass.gov website.)

I haven’t felt like wearing the necklace since then. But, I’m trying to do my part to share information about these little guys.

“The species range along the east coast from southern Massachusetts to Florida. Massachusetts represents the northern geographic range for these species and the animals are generally confined to the waters south and west of Cape Cod. This includes Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay and Mount Hope Bay. Movement is thought to be limited with only small scale seasonal migrations of less than several miles. …

“Based of field observations, whelk tend to spawn during the late summer period. Males directly fertilize the females and more than one male may fertilize a female. Females then develop their egg casings overtime. When spawning begins, the large casings are released in strings by the female whelks and anchored to the sediment. Whelks then hatch about nine months after the egg strings are deposited. There is no larval period for these animals.

“Stock Status
“DMF considers channeled whelk to be depleted throughout their range within the waters under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. A 2018 stock assessment of channeled whelk within Nantucket Sound showed this resource to be overfished with overfishing occurring.”

Fun tidbit: A blogger who grew up in Massachusetts wrote this nice detailed post about Barneys Joy beach & surrounding area. Took lots of great photos too. (Fun fact, that hurricane of 1938 was what prompted Grandma’s family to move a little bit back from the beach. Not sure, but I may be the first member of my family since then who has moved to live in walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean.)

Of apples; and real wealth

Paul Wheaton (of permies.com fame) wrote this gem of an article where he delves deep into a student’s question, “How do we get permaculture apples into Safeway?”

Along with enjoying learning details of growing and marketing apples, I appreciated his words regarding the pitfalls of focusing on financial wealth:

When you spend any time understanding the world’s problems you get that horrible feeling of “that could happen to me!” followed immediately by “how do I add safety to my life so that won’t happen to me?”

The first piece is “if I had a million dollars I could make safety for me.” – in time, I think most people start to come to the conclusion that that is a poor type of safety – you would need to buy just the right things, and without knowledge, you could buy the wrong things, or not install the right things correctly. And then as you start to learn all the things to make the million dollars be safe …. I think (and I’m sure a few billion people with have different thoughts) all roads lead to permaculture and homesteading.

So if a person has a head full of homesteading and permaculture, a solid home, their energy needs are itty bitty, and they are growing four times more food than they could ever eat … and they have $4,000 in the bank and $10,000 hidden under the mattress …. maybe that person now has more safety than the earlier person with a million dollars in hand.

Now, as I have often commented, the “homesteading” mentality has its shortcomings.

For one thing, a lot of us in the permie movement are unintentionally causing gentrification and other suffering by trying to have too much land. We should be occupying the minimum amount of land possible, and if we have extra, we could be returning surplus by sharing the land with other, less-fortunate people.

Personally, I’m not going to lie, but I find even my 1/10 of an urban acre way more than a handful to manage. Granted, I’m not trying to grow all my own food, but I wouldn’t be trying to do that alone *anywhere*.

Or we don’t have to be buying extra land; we can be buying old commercial buildings in blighted downtown areas and letting young people launch their businesses there. Now, the reality is I don’t personally know very many permies who are in a position financially to do that. I’m just pointing out that if a person has extra money, just buying up land and letting it sit is not the regenerative thing. That said, it is better than parking money in a mutual fund and supporting corporations.

(Many of us don’t believe in land ownership, and that’s a whole separate conversation. I would like to live in a world where people can have security of residence without needing to own land.)

Anyway, go read Paul’s article about apples; it’s a real treat. And, I don’t think I’m doing a “spoiler” by telling you that in the end it’s really not about getting your hyperlocal apples into Safeway or any grocery-store chain at all! It’s about reexamining our whole mentality around the food-supply chain.

And, if you apply it to your own life and situation, you might find Paul’s advice is applicable to other “crops” (both physical and intangible) besides apples.

BTW you don’t have to create an account on permies.com to read the posts; they are public. But, creating an account is free and then you get to participate in quite a variety of worthwhile conversations.

As is the case with other homesteading circles I know of, there is a lot of emphasis on the “growing food” aspect, but there are plenty of conversations about invisible structures and home economics as well. I particularly enjoy following the “threads” about sewing.

PS. Wherever you live, I encourage you to partake of your local fruits. Learn their seasons, learn to grow them if you can, and make them a regular seasonal part of your diet. Right now, for example, extremely delicious passion fruit are ripening in our area. I have never been able to grow them, but that doesn’t matter because there are vines overhanging the sidewalk at an empty house nearby. (A lot of people say they don’t like fruit trees etc. because they “attract rodents.” So basically I am doing those people a favor by grabbing fruit off the ground haha.) Also, a couple of friends on my local social-media feed have access to prolific vines, so if I wanted to I could probably trade something. I haven’t had to buy any fruit in 2 weeks!

YES to vets’ housing AND

YES to housing for homeless vets ALSO. It should not be an either-or.

This type of housing is good for many segments of the population. Young people, seniors, couples needing a starter home … the list goes on.

And no one should have to join the military. We have seen the damage that war causes to people and societies. Only the defense contractors keep getting richer.

Approaches to deep-greening one’s wardrobe

Robin Greenfield’s recent Facebook post, showing his all-natural, handmade-by-him capsule wardrobe of 18 pieces, drew the expected ooohs and ahhhs from many of us who have been following him for years.

Although my approach is different, I respect Rob’s approach, and admire the well-thought-out background information that he supplies for all of his choices. If you want detailed FAQs about an eco lifestyle, I recommend you bookmark Rob’s website.

An interesting plot-twist happened when someone shared Rob’s post in the Non-Consumer Advocate (a private FB group).

Most of the people commenting on the shared post were not previously familiar with Rob and his work. Accordingly, people were understandably put off by what came across to them as a request for some internet stranger to hand-knit a sweater for him for free.

What he was saying, though, is that he could not afford to pay the $500 that a hand-knit sweater would cost (he already has the yarn), but that he is willing to barter services.

When he posted that on his own page, the audience mostly understood the background. But when it was shared in a group, a bunch of strangers were unfamiliar with the background.

In response to the post on his own page, he actually got several offers to knit a sweater for free. Many people felt that he had contributed greatly to their own well-being as well as to the planet, so for these people, the request did not feel out of line.

In the NCA group, on the other hand, the post came across to many as indicating entitlement and privilege.

I can certainly see both sides of this. $500 is actually a very conservative estimate, given that many experienced knitters said a sweater would take them 60 hours to make. But, given that a lot of us are engaged in an ongoing effort to weave a parallel economy that is independent of the consumers money economy, there is an invitation to consider bartering.

A couple of people provided a live demo of this, when one person says they would be glad to trade some of their fresh eggs and other farm produce for a handmade item that another person produced. The fact that this felt OK and fair to both people is an indicator that we are seeing the inherent value of our work, independent of the monetary prices defined by the capitalist/consumerist financial economy.

I have no doubt that Rob will get his sweater, and that he will provide great value in exchange one way or the other.

My personal preference would be to find a wool sweater at a secondhand shop, or, as so often happens, a sweater that is literally being thrown away. But Rob has his carefully-thought-out reasons for pursuing an all-handmade wardrobe.

My personal wardrobe approach, in general, is to look to the waste stream first. Thrift stores, spoils of decluttering gigs, and so on. Also, for me, clothing made of synthetic fabrics that will not break down as easily in landfill are the top choice. Since clothes made of synthetic fiber will not as easily break down in landfill, I feel that we do the planet a service by wearing these clothes down to rags. (Literally! As I have often mentioned, as my clothing wears out, I down-cycle it into a “cascading hierarchy of household rags”). That said, I fully understand the attraction of natural fibers.

So vast is the waste-stream of clothing, that a person could potentially have a vast wardrobe even just doing waste-stream diversion, possibly embellished with their own sewing and embroidery skills. Thus even the person who craves a lot of variety and novelty in their wardrobe can indulge their craving in a low-footprint way.

Another topic that came up when Rob’s post got shared in the NCA group was the idea that such a wardrobe made a person look homeless, and would never fly in the corporate work culture.

But, it’s easy to tailor and embellish clothing so that it looks appropriate for different settings. And, some rather famous personages been known for basically wearing the same clothes every day — a uniform, in essence.

Many people have pointed out over the years that Rob can afford to live his unusual lifestyle because he doesn’t have a family to support or whatever. Rob makes no bones about that; he has written extensively acknowledging his privilege.

And, as I see it, it’s precisely those of us who can afford to live an alternative life (those of us who don’t have a “job” to lose; who work at the margins; or who might have a little financial leeway etc.) who need to be doing so and showing the way. As more of us outliers are living our our “alternative” lifestyles and sharing our tips and successes, we pave the way to make it easier and more feasible for others to do so.

Right now, many people would suffer financially — and also be socially ostracized — for trying to wear a very limited handmade capsule wardrobe to work. But, norms change over time, and we can help shift the norms.

Here are some ways I’ve noticed, most of which I have tried myself, of making a lower-footprint wardrobe.

• Very limited number of high-end basic pieces. Advantage: looks classy. Disadvantage: expensive.

• Very limited number of basic pieces, bargain-brand version. Advantage: looks classy but for less money. Disadvantage: wears out quickly; also fast fashion is bad for the planet.

• Very limited number of basic pieces, thrift-shop or landfill diversion diversion. Advantage: earth friendly, and inexpensive or free. Disadvantage: harder to serendipitously find pieces that go together.

• This one is for people who really can’t stand to have a limited wardrobe. For these folks I would recommend having as many clothes & shoes as you want, but mostly rescue them from the waste stream, and the rest you get from thrift shops. Advantage: free or cheap, and much more planet friendly than having a huge wardrobe of newly store-bought closed. Disadvantage: having a huge wardrobe is an organizational burden, and you will end up with clothes that are forgotten or damaged or moldy from being crammed in closets and such. One way to mitigate this downfall is to periodically sift through your wardrobe and allow things you’re not using to flow back into the thrift stream/waste stream as treasure for someone else to discover.

• Very limited number of basic pieces, accessorized with (for example) scarves and earrings. This is the approach I am taking for the past few years. Almost all of my wardrobe is now rescued from the waste stream, and I then do aftermarket things with needle and thread. And, I make a variety of scarves and have a good number of earrings. I have necklaces too but not as many necklaces.