Minimalism – Reducing, Reusing and Recycling stuff
One of my biggest tasks has been reducing everything I own. To do that I’ve asked myself:
“If I were to pick up and move today because of some natural disaster knowing everything would be destroyed – what would I keep and what would I leave behind?”
This question came up many years ago for me when I left home, at the time the most important things to me were my books, notebooks, my cd collection and my dvds/vhs’ with a few clothes. Everything else like beds, drawers and chairs could be replaced. Clothes I reasoned could be worn until they were no longer wearable – I was a teenager when I left home with nothing but a sack of clothes. I’m almost 30 now and still have those same clothes – though not for long.
Going Digital: Converting books into ebooks, cds into mp3s, and dvds/vhs’ into mp4s
Back then harddrives with good storage that stored ebooks and music or video collections, the availability of streaming services like Netflix weren’t available. Online services that I utilized to store many of my music collections ended up deleting everything and so I ended up losing what few things I did store online.
Today with the exception of a few collections I’ve given away most of my videos and music, and converted most of my books into ebooks. I miss the feeling of holding a book and turning the page but for right now the few books I’ve decided to keep are instructional guides. Giving up and letting go of my handheld books was the hardest bit for me.
Going Furniture Free: Multipurpose and Portable Furniture
I’ve never been too fond of furniture so my goal has been to convert all my furniture into portable surfaces. I’m a big proponent of leaving furniture behind and just getting new furniture when I go someplace new. I prefer furniture that collapses down, can be stored in a closet or folded up with multiple functions.
January 2017 The Garden Challenge New Year’s Resolution
Back in 2017 I decided that the economy I wanted to build would be based around self-sustainability / self-sufficiency. Getting people to grow their own food and building an entire virtual economy. I had spent that previous year exploring virtual currency and it’s use cases when integrated into games that took place in the real world similar to Alternate Reality Games (don’t worry if these words sound foreign – they’re not important). I wanted to create a network and food delivery system that helped people make income from home, while also helping to feed people who had no food – while also equipping them with the tools they need to grow their own food without effort or work.
The basic idea was that anything we did sell would be used to build bigger and better systems, with the rest being set aside in a treasury to fund the services and benefits that would enable us to offer food and housing support to all people. For it to work it had to be easy for people to do. In such a system Guardians would build and develop the backbone. They’d live sustainably, they would receive in financial resources only what they needed to live, and would offer housing and support to each other on shared land, very much similar to Buddhist Monasteries or Amish Societies – except we embrace and merge electronics with our work. While most people are curious about the community I’ve been working to build around the Guardian philosophy the overall gist is – I practice Buddhism and Daoism, I had my own ideas for what that looked like and developed a philosophy based on these concepts built around living our lives in a way that heals our wounds and supports us while simultaneously helping and supporting others.
The idea then was I’d design and develop and even build an automated food and water system they needed for free, under the promise that if this service helped them they would pay it forward. In this system whenever you paid it forward you would receive points called Hero Points which granted you benefits. Scholarships, financial assistance, and even a co-op like health care system. I thought if companies like Walmart or virtual currencies like bitcoin could be worth billions, even just millions think of all the good we could do if we eliminated waste and built a service who used funds to help people in need beyond just a care package but long-term, to create food , housing and mental health security.
In the beginning I was afraid to charge money for things so wanted to give everything away for free; but then I realized in our consumerist society where people are willing to spend $400 on a gaming system – that people who have the means to are willing to spend money on things they care about. And since money is needed to build and reinvest into the system I’m trying to build I began to feel a bit more comfortable about the idea of accepting money for services – this allows me to work towards building an alternative system that others can benefit for.
You can learn more about what the concept evolved into by taking a look at the “Quantum Economy“. It’s very wordy and doesn’t explain the system that I developed for income distribution and so on; but it gives an overall picture for what’s going on right now.
It has to be said that I didn’t go in this alone. In the beginning I tried getting a group of people to work together but I struggled to express the broad ideas, while also managing my own journey on top of others on top of some other personal challenges that made engaging with people on a daily basis difficult. So my goal has become to build it first and then gradually include others when milestones are met.
It all began with a “Garden” and needing some soil….
Converting Notebooks into Compost: Collecting Notebooks – 2017 March
I had notebooks spanning from 1995 to 2016, most of them were journals but a lot of them were worlds I had built after my MS Dos crashed with all my writing. Some of the writing was good, most of it was bad, and all of it became the foundation for much of my fiction and world building that I have today. Most of my notebooks did not fit into those two boxes there and I still have a small stack of notebooks containing this past 3 years notes on everything I’ve learned, and another box of notebooks elsewhere.
I knew I didn’t just want to throw them into a recycling bin – emotionally it wasn’t easy to envision them in the trash heap – it felt a lot like saying good bye to someone who had died. The young version of me who had written these stories and wrote in these journals. The older version of me was able to learn from those times, but who I was then is not who I am now, and who I am now is not who I will be tomorrow. I felt if I were to die I would want to be composted, given back to nature without any barriers or layers.
So the decision was made; I would be composting the notebooks.
Converting Notebooks into Compost: Shredding Notebooks with a Shredder – 2017 March
At first I tried shredding all the paper – it didn’t take long for my shredder to die on me. Not only that but the bin ended up knocked over and the cleaning lady swept them all up and – they ended up in the trash heap anyway. I never did buy a new shredder. I thought of putting them together and letting them collect rain and then chopping them up – but never got around to it.
1 Year Hold – March & May Keyhole Garden
So for about 1 year the books sat there in a corner waiting for me to get it together. Meanwhile I focused on designing my economy, my ecosystem all the things I was trying to build. That began with this keyhole garden.
Initially I had tried using wood but turns out you can’t put flat wood on the ground like that; so this time I began collecting cardboard. Looking back on it now I never factored in the “Tape” connected to this cardboard. So now when I garden while the cardboard has mostly composted even with some grass growing in it, there are bits of tape left behind.
Figure 1 – March 2017
There are a few mistakes I made here. The tape mentioned being one of them; but also planting way too close to the tree with its competing roots – some of which do seem to be in the garden itself. The second problem I had was that though I had lived in this home for a few years my plan was to move out by 2020, so the idea of leaving behind a massive garden that would grow to be a raised garden bed might not be appreciated by anyone buying the house later. Another problem I had was that I had initially thought I could build this in March and be planting during the spring 2017 – this entire thing took 1 year to build. Why? SOIL.
My goal was to build a garden that basically tended to and watered itself. It was a low-maintenance garden, one I couldn’t kill. What I didn’t factor in was the cost of importing and moving soil to fill the entire thing up. My goal had been a garden that cost next to nothing to build and here I was discovering that layering the grass with cardboard (smothering) required soil. So I had to wait until I could throw in some leaves. I can’t recall how I got the first layer of leaves in May when this photo was taken but I ended up having to wait until Fall to add a thick layer of leaves to the garden. I didn’t take any pictures in fall of the large mass of leaves that ended up being in there but it was pretty thick.
Figure 2 – May 2017
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to plant at the end of the year because of the cardboard at the bottom – About 1 year later in 2018 of January I had a garden that was growing weeds and so if it could grow weeds I was certain it could grow my vegetables.
Figure 3 – January 2018
You can see some Dwarf Lily or Mondo Grass invading my garden. It ended up within the garden itself, so I placed a layer of cardboard over it and within a few days it died.
Now for deciding what to plant…
Needless to say my plan for prepping a garden and growing food in 3 months didn’t work, it ended up taking me 1 year to get that together. As of today the outdoor garden is ready to plant and I plan on working on an indoor garden for growing Mycelium and Mushrooms (particularly king oysters, blue oysters, and lion’s mane. Mushrooms have a bit of a learning curve to them, so I plan to focus on them in the Summer; Kitchen Herbs, Medicinal herbs like Schizandra, and passionflower, as well as vegetables I eat are on my top list but that’s only half the battle – I still have to figure out zero waste packaging, licensing and what I have to do to actually store these foods and where to sell them.
What fresh foods I don’t sell will be composted and I’m thinking of canning, freezing, and/or focusing on herbal teas, soaps, and the like. So more to come on that journey as well.
Converting Notebooks into Compost: Shredding Notebooks Vermicomposting – 2018 January
Sometime in January a year too late, I realized I could make my own compost year round. I was already composting vegetable scraps in the garden itself, but I didn’t have a system where I collected it in actual bins; and I didn’t realize the joys of vermicomposting and…vermiponics. This past month between January and February has been dedicated to worms and composting. There’s a lot to share here, mistakes made, things learned and more.
All of that will be written about in Part 2.