There are about as many definitions of sustainability as there are people who decide to try to define “sustainable.” Leave things as you found them (but what happens if you found a mess?). Pack out what you pack in (maybe). Leave the planet in better shape for the next generation… and so on. Some ideas to ponder.

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We asked ourselves, what would happen if we went a whole month without spending money?  And what if we limited our consumption even further, reducing our use of energy down to almost nothing?  How would it affect us? What would we learn about ourselves and life?

In January, 2012 we embarked on this experiment.  The household at Blue Rock Station went cold turkey.  And it was amazing right from the start!

You can follow the chronicle through words and pictures of that first year of our “Thanks for Nothing” month (31 days of giving thanks for consuming as little as possible).  

Sustainable Living Podcasts…

Living in an Earthship

What is it like to live in an Earthship (a home made of tires, bottles, mud and assorted garbage)? 

How did we decide to move from a comfortable home in suburbia to build a house made of trash – and then move there permanently?

How does it all work, harvesting its own water, composting its waste, heating itself naturally? And why is it so darn comfortable?

Living in an Age of Instability (You Will be Green)

It feels like everything is out of control.  It is indeed the end of the world as we know it… and thank God. 

Understand why systems that we have relied upon for decades simply will not work in the current and coming reality. Get a glimpse as to why sustainable living will not only be the new normal – but you will love it.

Living with Zero Utilities

Imagine no electric bill.  What if there was no gas, water, sewer, heating or cooling bills as well?

How much money do you need to live – if the cost of shelter is almost nothing? Is this a fantasy, or can it become your reality?

Philosophy of Enough (Voluntary Simplicity)

It is the American Dream.  Accumulate more and more and die with the most toys.  We are told it is a problem if the stock market goes down. We are told that each year our household, our companies, our economy must produce and consume more and more. But why?

How can you get off the merry-go-round of consumption and be happy with what you have. How can you embrace the philosophy of enough?

Politics of Sustainability

You can’t fix the system because it ain’t broken.  Sustainability is political. 

There are deeply ingrained systems in place designed to keep things just as they are. Unrestrained consumption makes a lot of money for a privileged few. When you decide to change your lifestyle – there will be push back.

So what are these politics and how can you navigate through them?

Is the World Sustainable?

We are in a great hurry to go nowhere.  Shop til you drop and live your life staring at your phone.  Is this a sustainable way of life? 

Let’s step back for a moment and take a look at where we are, how we got here, and where we are going. Is our current path sustainable?

And if not, just what will a sustainable world look like?

Sustainable Celebrations

Formal celebrations are an important way to mark life’s milestones.  Each year we celebrate birthdays, seasonal holidays, religious holidays, anniversaries, commemorations, life milestones.

Yet it seems that nearly every celebration has been hijacked by our consumer culture, turning a quiet time of reflection into a shopping spree – graded by how much you spend, eat or drink.

Is this our only option, or are there better ways to celebrate milestones in life?

Why We Built an Earthship

llama lounge foundation

What led to us to build an earthship in the hills of Appalachian Ohio?

What strange compulsion resulted in our quitting our jobs, chucking the goals and aspirations of middle-class American life and moving to the middle of nowhere to forge a new reality in a house made mostly of old tires?

And what is stranger yet – why do we still have not a single regret after living this way for nearly 20 years?

Conscious Consumption (Voluntary Simplicity)

For three months each year, Jay and Annie Warmke of Blue Rock Station avoid spending any money for anything.  Their annual “Thanks for Nothing” season is a time to slow down and be aware. 

As it turns out, this annual season of slowing down and not shopping has been good practice for the current situation we all face. Find out what lessons we learned in practicing voluntary simplicity.

Sustaining Optimism

How can you stay happy and optimistic in a world that seems bent on bringing you down?  We are all in this for the long haul (hopefully). And that means keeping a positive attitude in the middle of a negative downpour.

Easier said than done.

How can you remain hopeful and happy when the media and those around you are providing a constant background noise of negative chatter?

Aging Sustainably

We all age – at least the lucky among us.  Yet our society treats aging as a disease, and the systems created to “help” are for the most part insane.  How can we age gracefully and sustainably? 

The art of aging successfully and sustainable involves a balanced mix of fun, work, purpose, emotional support – and most of all, shutting out the constant message that you are old and need to sit down and begin to die.

Future of Sustainability

We all know the major systems in our society – communication, fuel, transportation, food, housing, economy – are dependent on unsustainable foundations. 

How will these systems evolve to meet the challenges of a world with limited resources?  Join Annie and Jay Warmke from Blue Rock Station for a discussion of sustainable living in the real world.

Sustaining Diversity (in a world bent on sameness)

The corporate monoculture is reducing food options. 

The media is bent on a steady diet to sameness – celebrity, scandal, and tragedy.   

How do we encourage, embrace and celebrate diversity in our homes, lives, culture and planet?  As the scholar said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Living a Net Zero Lifestyle

We have heard of net zero energy.  Net zero construction.

But the heart of sustainability is seeking to live a net zero life.  How do you get through this life with as little adverse impact on the generations that follow? 

It is not just about the house you live in, or the car you drive, or the food you eat. Sustainability is a complete and total lifestyle choice.

Learning to Thrive

With so many of us simply trying to figure out how to get by – how can you actually thrive in a society that seems bent on bringing you down?  

  • Face your fears
  • Accept it is all a lie
  • Take time for yourself
  • Own your body
  • Invest in others
  • Meet others only half way
  • Ask for what you need
  • Have a plan
  • Love doesn’t conquer all
  • Walk boldly

Greenwashing (the lies they tell and the liars who tell them)

Those of us who wish for a better world want to support products and companies that support that vision.  We know this – and they know it. 

But how do you separate fact from fiction in the world of green marketing?  Many companies claim to be healthy, sustainable, earth friendly, and so on. Yet then we find out it is all a lie.

So just what is greenwashing and how can you recognize it when you see it?

Heading Towards Zero Waste

Each year every man, woman and child generates a huge amount of solid waste. 

How is this managed, what are the issues it poses to the planet, and how can we deal with it?  How can we change our behaviors to move as a society towards zero waste? 

Opting Out (Everything they ever told you is Wrong)

Society tells us to aspire to certain ideals.  We should own a big house, drive a nice car, go for that next promotion… eat this, drink that. 

Most of us have fantasized at one time or another about chucking it all and moving to a tiny cabin in the woods and letting the rest of the world fend for itself. But the realities of opting out are sometimes harsh and cruel.

What happens when you reject these as goals?  How do you form your own path in a world that judges you against fairly rigid guidelines? 

Getting Started (Making your Dream a Reality) Part 1

Getting Started (Moving from Dream to Plan) Part 2

That one small step between dreaming and beginning to make the dream a reality can seem like the Grand Canyon.  How do you get from dreaming to actually living the dream? 

Living simply can be quite complicated.  But there are definite steps you can take to successfully navigate your path from where you are to where you want to be.

The Truth About Recycling (Our Dirty Little Secret)

We all know the school child chant, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.  

Recycling is good, right? 

Yes – but then again, maybe not. 

Some items are quite easily (and profitably) recycled.  Others mostly find their way into to dump – even if you place them in the recycling bin.  And just what is the proper way to handle recycled items?  Find out a few of the dirty truths about the current state of recycling.  

Donating Sustainably (How to give your time, money and things away without getting taken)

Most people are pretty generous. 

We like to give our time, money, old clothes, household items away to those who can use and appreciate them. 

But often we find that the charities we are told to support have agendas we don’t agree with, pay their executives huge salaries, and waste much that they receive. 

So how can we be true to our belief system, be generous, but also be assured that what we give actual goes to those in need?

Alternatives to Money

Just what exactly is money?  And why does it have value? 

Why do we and our society spend so much time worrying about it, pursuing it, discussing it – when in reality it doesn’t really exist?