Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

February 28, 2008

Wow.

We’ve had over 1,500 hits on our blog since yesterday…up from our average of around 50. I guess that’s what people call the “Oprah Effect.”  :)  Hi everyone! Welcome. We’re really glad to have all the visitors and all the wonderful and encouraging comments.

We’ve had a lot of people express their interest in the subject and even in possibly organizing a “trash tour.” Though we’re unable to answer everyone’s comments, I am so glad to see enthusiasm in the idea that ordinary people can make a stand against our nation’s rampant consumerism and waste. The trash tour would be more difficult than in New York, since we can’t simply walk from place to place. But we might be able to figure something out. At the very least, I would love to organize a meeting where we could discuss some of the different aspects of freeganism.

Thanks again to the wonderful people at Oprah who invited us to this conversation. I just have a couple of initial thoughts after the show.

I’ve seen a couple of comments on various places pointing out (often angrily) that “freegan” is just a new label for something that’s existed for years. That may be true. People have been dumpster diving ever since there were dumpsters, although freeganism is certainly much more than that. People have been repairing and reusing clothes and products for years. Many people in this country who were involved (whether adult or children) in the Great Depression still hold high values such as thrift, frugality, resourcefulness, and minimal waste. However, the voluntary practice of freeganism in an attempt to make a statement against overconsumption may not be as well known. In fact, we didn’t really know what freeganism was until long after we started practicing it. Even now, our approach is different than true freeganism, as are some of the ways in which we carry out our convictions. So don’t get too caught up in the term “freegan”…if you’re doing your part, you can call yourself a “bleekybleeky” for all I care.  :)

One other thing I’d like to quickly address is that of corporate donations. The show made it seem that no grocery stores donate any of their products, whereas that definitely does occur. I actually just found out that a guy at our church works specifically to convince corporations to make donating mandatory for local store managers, all in an effort to get more food donated to Second Harvest Food Bank (from there, it’s distributed to homeless shelters, etc). Costco donates, at the least, shopping carts full of bread and other pastries every day. So we do know that this happens, and encourage it. We will say time and time again that we wish dumpster diving wasn’t possible because stores donate everything possible, but that’s simply not the case…yet.

To those involved in the food / grocery business, please check out the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed by Clinton in 1996. It removes any liability for good faith donations to non-profit organizations such as Second Harvest. We have so much surplus food in this country that no one in the United States should ever go hungry. Please, I beg you, to consider those who are less fortunate and take the time and energy to see to it that everything that can be used is donated. It may take a little research on your part and it might require a few extra hours of labor a month, but even outside of your moral obligations the financial benefits are plentiful (the Second Harvest website is a wonderful tool and great place to start or increase your donations).

With that said, food donations are wonderful, important, and needed…but they will never be enough. Freeganism, like I mentioned, is about so much more than how much food we waste. We should get surplus food to where it’s most needed, we should recycle our cell phones after we’re done with them, and we should always give to places like Goodwill before we give to our landfills. But none of that significantly decreases our consumption of the earth’s resources, and it’s time we started thinking about the devastating effects of that overconsumption. Freeganism goes further than being responsible with our waste; it begs the question “why do we have so much waste in the first place?” It’s time we started loving our neighbors by shredding our credit cards and treading lightly on the earth…somewhere other than a shopping mall. 

Since we leave Friday for a medical mission trip to Haiti, we’ll be out of touch for a bit. I promise we’ll try to answer some comments eventually. In the meantime, so that our blog doesn’t become a meetup site (grin), here’s an e-mail where you can let us know of your interest in getting together with us…either for a trash tour or an informal meeting to discuss freeganism in Nashville. It’s nashvillefreegan@gmail.com and as soon as we get back we’ll start working to make that happen. In the meantime, browse around the blog and feel free as always to leave comments!!

Peace to all.

February 7, 2008

The joys of living simply!

Filed under: reusing — theburts @ 5:15 pm
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We interrupt this series to give you…a fun and interactive post about the joys of living simply. More specifically, the joys of being unattached to stuff, and the joys of old, out of date products. I’ve never really written a post asking readers to chime in, but this is one. It’ll be fun, I promise.

I had a conversation the other day with the baker at Costco about the freedom of driving a less than perfect automobile. Then my cousin Jennifer said something about old out-of-date ice cream makers. Brain wheels turned, light bulbs flickered, and this thought was created…

The influence of advertising, our keen interest in technology, our consumption driven economy, and our desire to keep up with the Joneses always tells us we need the new. Be it a new car or a new ice cream maker, we begin to believe that having the new thing will make us happier. We know that’s not true, but…have you ever considered the ways in which the exact opposite is true? Marketing covers all the advantages of the new product, but nobody seems to point out the advantages of the old! So what are some of those advantages or benefits of out-of-date stuff? What are the joys in keeping the old?

So this is the part where we brainstorm and everyone posts comments or stories. And, though there are more serious reasons not to buy new things…waste, greed, contentment, overconsumption, consumerism, global poverty, etc…let’s try to keep this strictly about the lighter, more fun side of sticking with old products. Please use humor when necessary, and don’t be afraid to reminisce!! Ok…one…two…three…GO!

January 14, 2008

The “Why” Series

We realized not too long ago that there’s not much in our blog explaining the reasoning behind living the way we do.

We recycle, we redeem food and other items out of dumpsters, we don’t buy new furniture, we try to shop only at secondhand stores, we are trying to have a smaller eco footprint, we refuse to follow the “American dream,” we don’t have cable and don’t watch a lot of TV (except for last week, as Amanda mentioned), we are peace lovers, and we try to share all our excess with our less fortunate neighbors worldwide.

We are far from where we want and need to be. We could live more simply, use less energy, and give away more. In all these things, though, we try to approach the issue not with legalism and judgment, but with creativity and fun as we seek out ways to implement our convictions into daily practices. And it is fun! Living simply hasn’t turned us into miserable, unhappy ascetics. On the other hand, we’re finding out how much joy there is in a lifestyle of “living simply so that others may simply live.” And finding alternative ways to recycle or “precycle” has been an exciting adventure, not a dull and mindless task of guilt-ridden necessity.

With all that said, we decided it would be beneficial to all parties for us to write a series of blogs on why we live the way we live. What motivates us to live simply? Consume little energy, or dumpster dive? Does it come from our peers, our rebellion, our frugality, or our disgust with the industrial / corporate world? Probably all of those things have influenced us. We’re all affected by others, by advertising, and by our upbringing. But we are going to be looking at why we do stuff, and we invite you to that discussion.

I mentioned that this discussion will (hopefully) be beneficial to all parties. It was already mentioned that we feel our archive of blogs so far hasn’t really done the best job at explaining our why behind things, so we hope to offer some explanation to our confused readers out there. The second party is us…we want to do this primarily to review and remember all of the reasons why we live differently. It’s easy to forget one’s motivation, even if it’s practically lived out on a daily basis. We want to strive to always do what we do for pure reasons, and this will force us to take a close look at our lives. In one of the most famous writings on love, the early apostle Paul said this:

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Ultimately, this points to the very basic reasoning behind all of it. Everything we aspire to do in our lives comes from a world view that, by faith, claims there is a loving God who wants us to live in unity with Him. Love God, love your neighbor. Without that, we gain nothing.

Hope you’ll enjoy the series! I hope it will challenge and inspire both you and us.

December 29, 2007

Music makes me lonely

Filed under: recycling,reusing — theburts @ 3:21 am
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Seriously. I’ve had music on in the apartment for less than an hour and I’m seriously lonely! Ok, I guess I should also mention my wife is out of town. That might have something to do with it. Dang, girl, I miss you. At least we’re only apart for a night this time…I don’t think I could handle much more than that. :)

So neither of us have updated the blog in a while, so I thought I’d do just that. Then I might go check a couple dumpsters later on. We’ve used quite a bit of canned vegetables lately so I could restock a little. Oh, speaking of recycling, check out our new music box. It is an actual box, cardboard, that I just finished. I did an AWFUL job. My original goal was to use 2 liter bottles to hold the 2 speakers in a sealed tube, then fix the controller portion between the 2 speakers. It would have looked very recycle-ly futuristic. It was becoming quite difficult, though, and I realized that it wasn’t going to look great in the end, so I gave up and threw it in a box. :)

musicbox2.jpg

musicbox.jpg

Eek, that second picture looks kinda like a bomb. Yikes.

It sounds great, too! Well, I’m sure you can tell a difference in my music box and the $150 Best Buy version. But mine is so much cooler. :) Seriously, though, I love making stuff like this out of things I already have. It’s probably one of my favorite hobbies…if you can call that a hobby. Eventually, when we grow tired of this one’s ugliness, I may make a little wooden box and cut holes where the speakers will sit in. I couldn’t do that now cause my saws (specifically jig or scroll) aren’t with me.

I can imagine, 10 years down the road, when Amanda and I have a 7 or 8 year old boy or girl (or two), that I will enjoy doing things like this with our kid(s). It won’t necessarily teach them a vital trade or skill, but it could be great “dad time” doing something productive and fun(ny), and would allow us to continue teaching our kids the importance of recycling.

Alright, time to check the local “goods”…and then check out! Love and peace to all.

Daniel

October 25, 2007

Our new (well, not really) computer desk

Filed under: dumpster diving,recycling,reusing — theburts @ 4:40 am
Tags: ,

So we found a couple bedside/end table things at a dumpster a few weeks ago. They sat on Josh and Justin’s porch for a while, and we picked them up this last week. We built a computer desk using them as the two ends. Here are the during and after shots (we forgot to take one before we started, but you’ll get the idea).

During…Daniel had already cut the 1X8s and screwed them onto the 2 end tables. And, as you can see, it was mostly painted with the first coat.

during.jpgmacrofocus.jpg

After…(Amanda’s idea) we placed pictures we took on our honeymoon on the top and the glass sits on top of those. We can of course change the pictures whenever, and maybe include bible verses, old notes we wrote to each other, or whatever!

amandaatdesk.jpg topview.jpgdanielatdesk.jpg

Overall cost: $10 for the wood to lay inbetween the two tables

The glass piece we already had, one of the pieces we got for free and used to make the TV stand and coffee table at the condo. Paint = free, we used a color we already had. Blood, sweat and tears (and paint in the hair) = priceless. :)

Yay for another cubic meter of matter that won’t take up space in a trash heap, yay for finding another way to “buy” a piece of furniture and stay in our budget while doing it, and yay for another project that was fun and bonding for this newlywed couple. Three cheers for redemption, once again! (Woot woot woot!!)

Amanda and Daniel

October 17, 2007

Blog Action Day #2

I don’t know why I should do the talking, Amanda…your pictures are a thousand words. Thanks for the post. I will say that I’m realizing more and more the impact of our lives on the environment. Good friends have helped me see how huge it is that we respect the Earth and do our parts to take care of it.

Here’s the practicality side of it…at work, that means I recycle, reuse trash bags if they’re just filled with a bunch of paper, and (though it was not the reason I purchased it) use a “paperless” file system.

At home, we recycle everything we can, including “recycled” food thrown away by corporations (meaning grocery store dumpster food), I’m going to be biking to work more, we turn the lights off, and we follow the “yellow? let it mellow!” rule. :) We could do so much more still…like only have the water on during the rinsing parts of our showers (is my former roomate still doing this, btw? i’ve let that habit pass), save excess sink water in kitchen and bath, grow and eat vegetables in our tiny patio space, use the a/c even less, etc. So we’re definitely not where we need to be in this area, but we are at least living more responsibly than 2 years ago. Keep challenging us here, friends.

So why is this is important? (a question I sincerely asked dear friends of mine ~2 years ago, specifically how being environmentally conscious could possibly relate to our walk with Christ. thank you, ariah, mindy, and chris, for treating me with love but also for challenging me with your ideas. i remember that conversation well.)

See below pictures. Then go look up some pictures of landfills, specifically in countries like the Dominican Republic and Haiti where there are no rules and no money to have organized trash collection/disposal. That’s what we are doing to our Earth. We, each of us who participates in consumerism, are deteriorating such a beautiful world by every piece of trash we toss, by every gallon of water we waste, and by every kilowatt of energy we burn. And once again, “those who always pay are the poorest of the poor.” (Derek Webb)

Lastly, I’ll quote from “The Motorcycle Diaries.” (great thought provoking movie, if you haven’t seen it) Che Guevara and Alberto Granado stood at an Incan civilization in Argentina and marveled at the beauty of the structures built high in the mountains. Simple but practical homes and communal spaces, beautiful in their architecture and strong enough to still stand hundreds of years later. Now abandoned. Fog was lifting from the green hills. And Che remarks in his diary:

“The Incas had a high knowledge of astronomy, medicine, math, among others. But the Spanish invaders had powder. How would America be today if things had been different? How is it possible that i feel nostalgia for a world i never knew? How do you explain that a civilization capable of building this is wiped out to build……this?”

And the camera pans to view the huge city down in the valley below. Filled with smog, filth, and an enormous span of buildings and automobiles. A stark contrast to the beauty of that ancient world…ugly.

How I wish, sometimes, to be a part of a civilization, or at least a community, that grows its own food and doesn’t feel the need to buy everything the industrial/corporate world decides would “improve” our lifestyle. Until then, I’ll try to live responsibly so as to leave only small footprints on our Earth. I’ll try to remember the beauty and wonder of the civilizations before us who “somehow managed” to get by without electricity, drywall, steel, and gasoline. And even though “Blog Action Day” is over, I encourage you to consider the same.

October 4, 2007

Budget and water woes…

Filed under: recycling,reusing — theburts @ 3:48 pm

You guys are killing me. I can’t help it that my husband is a Super Blogger. Hehe.

So, since we decided to get his school loans payed off by Feb. 18th, a lofty goal by any means, we had to set a budget to keep our spending in check. We had created a budget in our premarital counseling, so we just had to tweak it a bit. We’re going to follow the Dave Ramsey “envelope” thing for our groceries, eating out money, & our personal “fun” money. I’ve always been conservative & frugal with my money, but this budget thing is going to be tough!

Like… we got invited to a friend’s house for a wine & cheese night… so, we have to take a bottle of wine & cheese, and that’s going to take a big chunk of money out of one of our envelopes. And, it’s just Oct. 4th, which means that we have 27 days left with little money. So, I guess we better get used to staying in or find some free things to do! Also, with our apartment flooding situation, we’ll probably have to move out for at least a week this month, so eating at home will be more difficult. So anyways… wish us luck (by luck, I mean diligence) and invite us to free meals, activities, etc. J

On another note, I ran across a website – www.newdream.org this morning and wasted some tax-payer’s money while I looked at it from work. (also, I’m blogging from work. Oops.) I made a pledge on the site to stop drinking bottled water. If I get a whole bunch of other people to sign up, I can win a prize… but I’m too lazy to do that. They also say that my nalgene bottle leaks some harmful chemicals into the water. They recommend using a stainless steel bottle and give some links to some that cost close to $20! I can’t afford that on this budget! I’ve been using the same plastic water bottle at work for 3 months or so, and now that I think of it, that’s pretty gross since I never wash it out or anything…. Just refill it. We also have about 10 bottles of water in our ‘frig that Daniel found in the abyss that was his car. So, I guess we’ll use (and reuse, then recycle) those bottles, then never use bottled water again, hopefully.

I inherited (from a roommate that didn’t take it when he moved out) this water thing that is about 2 inches wide with a spout that sits in the ‘frig. It holds probably close to 2-gallons of water without taking up much space. We’ve had regular old tap water in it, and that cold water is so yummy, so the bottled water thing won’t be hard at home.. just maybe when we’re out – at dances and such.

Ok, there. J

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