Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Personal Ways to Disengage from the System

I believe our personal actions matter more now than at any other point in history. I've become disillusioned with activism that aims a direct assault on the system. Rather I think it's the million and one little things we each can do that will play a significant role in toppling the system.

I sat down and brainstormed a list of little things we could each do. This was a quick exercise and one that stems from my own limited vantage point. I'd love to see what others would add to the list.

Grow your own fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Grow herbs for medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic purposes.
Raise chickens, rabbits, bees, goats, sheep, etc. for fur, fiber, meat, eggs, dairy and honey.
Cook from scratch.
Don't buy processed foods.
Eat at home.
Buy from local growers what you can't grow yourself.
Join an organic CSA.
Buy grass-fed meats.
Reduce meat consumption.
Shop second-hand stores, flea markets, etc.
Barter, use free-cycle.
Become self-employed.
Don't invest in the market.
Loan within your community to support positive enterprises.
Don't charge interest except to cover inflation, if any.
Build passive-solar homes.
Heat with locally available fuels.
Swap seeds with neighbors, friends, family.
Use humanure.
Use graywater systems.
Collect rainwater. (Illegal where I live!)
Own your own water.
Sell your car.
Build with locally available materials (adobe, strawbales, stone, logs, etc.)
Salvage materials.
Give up gadgets (tv's, microwave ovens, dishwashers, cellphones, etc.)
Do it by hand (garden, kitchen, house, etc.).
Build a root cellar.
Learn to preserve foods.
Share excess produce.
Learn to build, repair and tinker.
Insist on home funerals and burials where legal.
Exercise and eat right.
Ferment foods.
Learn how to safely store drinking water.
Drip irrigate.
Conserve water.
Learn how to find water.
Go off grid.
Use permaculture principles, esp. create no waste.
Live in the smallest shelter that's practical.
Buy bulk grains, beans, spices, salt, etc. if they can't be grown or found locally.
Figure out what you can do without.
Learn how to make cheese, yogurt, soap, wine, herbal distillations, etc.
Raise your own sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, sorghum).
Plant for genetic diversity.
Learn how to build and maintain healthy soils.
Use a clothesline.
Learn how to identify wild edibles and incorporate into your diet, sustainably.
Forgo air conditioning.
Choose a climate suitable for human endeavors, one that doesn't require much artificial heating or cooling.
Learn to hunt, track, trap, and fish.
Learn to co-exist with the local critters (including the human ones).
Don't use airplanes.
Stay where you are.
Build strong communities.
Re-invent community canning kitchens, community grain mills, etc.
Finance nothing--no mortgages, no car loans, no lines of credit.
Don't use banks.
Help your neighbors.

The list could go on and on. Anything you do to take back responsibility for your own well-being and the well-being of your community is a step in the right direction. Small steps such as these may seem insignificant, but if you poke around the internet a bit, you'll see just how many people are waking up to the importance of these sorts of changes. Soon enough all of these little changes are going to add up and have an enormous impact. Just watch.


  1. Melanie, that's a great list and we already live much of it :) If you don't mind I would like to post it on my blog to encourage other folks to do the same. I would add a link back to here as well.

  2. Hi Juli,

    You'd probably have a lot more things to add to the list. I don't think I'm living the homesteading life to quite the extent you are...yet.

    That'd be great if you posted it to your blog.:-)

  3. Hi Melanie,

    Nice list. Please add this one:

    "Stop using proprietary operating systems and programs for your computer. Use community-developed, participatory, free systems instead. Ubuntu is the leader in this area and can easily replace everything that runs on your Mac or PC."

    Ubuntu Vancouver

  4. That is gold Melanie. May I post it to Ooooby?

    Please come and visit us www.ooooby.org

    And may I invite you to join us.

    You so eloquently speak the sentiments of many of us.

  5. Randall, thanks for your comment. I have to admit the proprietary software issue wasn't even on my radar. Cyberspace isn't quite "real" enough for me, I guess. Thanks for bringing attention to it.

    Pete, ooooby looks like a terrific community. You're definitely welcome to re-post this there.