Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How much is enough?

I have wrestled with the idea of how much is enough and have come to the conclusion a lot less then what I am currently using. A simple example is the water consumption I am currently using for my showers. After reading Sharon Astyk’s book Depletion and Abundance: Life On the New Home Front I took her advice and bought some solar camp showers. Each camp shower holds 20 liters (5 gallons) of water. You place the bag in direct sunlight to heat the water and thus have a shower without having to use fossil fuels. On my first shower I did not think 5 gallons would be enough water. For my shower I emptied the water into a five gallon bucket as hanging the bag is difficult and the shower nozzle on the bag gives a slow flow. Instead of using the shower head I use a yogurt container as a ladle to splash the water on me. After I was wet I soaped up and washed the suds off. I was amazed to find that 20 liters was more then enough. I decided to see how little I can use since then. I was shocked to find after a shower I would have a quarter of the bucket left, then half a bucket left. I concluded that my shower adjusted to what ever amount of water I had. I am sure if I wanted I could cut it down more if I introduce the use of a sponge. This made me think about other areas of my life where I use more than is needed. Diet seems to be an area that could be simplified. I just finished reading the good life by Helen and Scott nearing. I was amazed to read how simple their diet was and how healthy they remained on it. The nearings diet consisted of fruit for breakfast, soup and grains for lunch and salad for dinner. They grew 80% of their own food on their land in a zone that allowed them 85 days of frost free weather in Vermont and then 105 frost free days later when they moved to Maine. These weather conditions are close to what I face in Prince George. I am sure I could sustain myself on a similar diet; However, would my mind and cravings allow me too?

In other news I have supplemented my income with another job as a part time bottle collector. As I walked to and from work I noticed numerous of bottles scattered on the roads and walkways I passed. I decided to make this time more productive and start picking them up. In my first month of part time collecting (6 hours a month) I made $16 of tax free money. Not bad considering I have to walk this route anyways. I am sure I could make more if I was willing to dumpster dive but I have not gone that far yet (unless they are obviously poking out of the top of the garbage bin). This task has also challenged me in overcoming the way I project myself to society. I was surprised to find the courage and lack of ego needed to pick up bottles in front of others. It is kind of funny that people who see me scavenging for bottles probably assume I am poor or an addict. I wonder what society would think if they knew that I was collecting bottles in order to retire early and am by no means poor. The other day I believe I received a initiation to becoming a full fledged bottle collector. I was walking in front of a strip mall when I stopped to pick up a can. After my score I noticed I was being flagged down by a little girl with a smile and a bottle in her hand. It felt quite awkward to approach the girl and her mother and accept the handout. I did take the bottle with gratitude and gave the little girl a enthusiastic thank you very much. It feels good to swallow your pride at times.

Oh and a update on my student loan. It is payed in full. I manged to pay off $26 000 in a year with the help of my wife.