<a href="http://gmagazine.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Going the extra mile: buying nothing at all!

The Cockburn family

Credit: Linda Cockburn at www.lintrezza.blogspot.com

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We’ve been doing a challenge to buy nothing new this month. But some people take it much further than that, and pledge not to buy anything at all for longer amounts of time. It’s kind of extreme, but it’s a good way to learn how to live sustainably if you’re the kind of person who likes to jump into the deep end rather than take it easy!

One of the most fun experiences I’ve read about was in the book “Living the Good Life” by Barbara Cockburn. She, her husband and their 6 year old son decided to go 6 months without spending any money on food, power, water or transport. They approached it as an experiment, and with a real sense of adventure.

It took a bit of preparation to get going. They hooked up some solar panels, got a couple of water tanks, and switched to a composting toilet before they began. For the six months, they grew their own fruit and vegies, traded eggs for flour and sugar to make their own bread and snacks, and kept a goat so they could make their own yogurt, cheese and other dairy products. And they did all this on a suburban block in Queensland!

They paid for council rates and school fees, but managed to avoid using any mains power or water. One unexpected expense was when their little boy had to go to hospital in an emergency. But they also planned in a break in the middle, where they bought takeaway and beer and treated themselves for a bit.

Altogether it sounded to me like a lot of fun mixed in with a lot of hard work. Evidently they enjoyed it though, as they’re now in Tasmania building an energy efficient straw bale house, and keep even more goats and farm animals!

The Cockburns gave the no-spending experiment a go for a couple of reasons: they wanted to save money and reduce their eco-footprint. But what they found is that they also became a closer family, lost weight and got fit without going to the gym, and had a really good time. Linda even implies that their sex life improved too!

I think it’s good to know that we don’t have to spend money to live a more satisfying and sustainable life, in spite of what all the greenwashing advertisers would have us believe. I’ve been enjoying my buy nothing new challenge, and hope you’ve been getting something out of it too.