Here are some tips about how to minimize our entanglement in the industrial capitalist machine that is destroying the environment and enslaving people across the globe. It is true that lifestylism — spending most of one’s energy changing your own individual behavior rather than working to smash the system — is not the solution for complex social problems like capitalism and industrialism. However, it is equally true that it isn’t good enough to say “I’ll change my individual behavior after the revolution.” If we’re all waiting for everyone else to change first, or for some great movement to tell us its time to change, we’re missing the point. Change happens on all kinds of levels in complex ways. Revolution means change on a structural, mass level — in ways far outside of our isolated, individual hands — and it also means millions of individual people simultaneously changing their own lives and behaviors in private, invisible ways. Participating in movements for change is crucial to change the structural, mass level, but our daily life choices are important too and are solely up to us.
That’s why a lot of us are switching teams — devoting our life energy to non-hierarchical alternatives to the system and avoiding participation in the heavy resource consumption mainstream economy every chance we get. In figuring out how to live more simply, it is often useful to ask “how did people live 100 years ago” and/or “how do people live in places that haven’t yet been industrialized?” Living simply focuses on quality of life, not standard of living. We’ve found that by learning how to live simply and farther outside the system, our lives are full of richness, excitement, creativity and fun.
Tips to Dropping Out of the Economy & Using Less Energy and Water
• Work as little as you can. Pretty obvious. This may mean creating collective business projects focused on meeting the members needs rather than working for the system.
• Live with less money. This may mean sharing more with others to cut costs, for example by sharing housing and tools. It also may mean consuming less stuff.
• Eat locally and/or grow your own food. Industrial food production uses a huge percentage of the fossil fuels consumed in the world. Transporting food from far away uses lots of fuel.
• Eat low on the food chain. A vegetarian or vegan diet massively cuts fuel and water consumption. It takes 5,400 gallons of water to produce 2.2 lbs of hamburger! If you eat meat, grow or hunt it yourself. Less processed food uses less energy too – oatmeal instead of granola or cooking from scratch instead of eating out. If you live and cook communally, each meal takes less energy and water.
• Drive less or not at all. Transportation accounts for 40% of US fossil fuel use. It takes 44 gallons of water to refine one gallon of oil. You can bike, walk, take transit or hitchhike.
• Get rid of your clothes dryer. The sun and a piece of rope is a “solar dryer” that has worked great for centuries. In the winter, clothes hung inside dry, too.
• Get rid of your refrigerator or at least downsize and share one fridge with lots of people. It uses more energy than any other home appliance. You can store stuff for a day or two without a fridge and/or build a root cellar in the ground (which in most areas stays a constant 55 degrees.) Fresher food is better anyway.
• If you live in a cold or hot climate, use passive solar heating / cooling. During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the windows and drapes closed during the day to prevent solar gain and open the house up to cool off at night.
• Get rid of lights and appliance or at least turn them off when not in use. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home generates more carbon dioxide than two cars!
• Get rid of your lawn if you have one. This is the #1 user of water in most of the country. Lawns are silly – you can replace it with a garden to grow your own food. Lawns symbolize property – gardens actualize the earth’s abundance.
• Shower less often, with friends and for less time to save lots of energy and water.
• Re-use graywater – water used for washing – for watering gardens – filter it first.