Tuesday, 30 June 2015

10 Reasons to Dive! Or: 10 Benefits to Dumpster Diving

Dumpster Diving Treasure

This is for anyone who may still not be convinced that Dumpster Diving has any benefits.

1.       It is fun and exciting! You never know what you are going to find, but 9 times out of 10 it will be a lot and often it is good stuff too! And maybe it will even be the kinds of things you have never tried before and wouldn’t if you’d have to pay for it. But you might really like it!
2.       It is very good fitness training. You’ll never have to go to the gym again! You will be carrying heavy bags and cycling as many kilometers as you want, looking for exciting opportunities.  If you become a real DumpsterDiving-enthusiast, then you might cycle over 50 kilometers a week, just for the fun of collecting foods!

3.       You will start eating more fruits and veggies! Not just because they are free (because everything is free in our world), but also because you will have so many of them and you don’t want them to go bad.

4.       No more waiting in line! Wait, what? Do people actually wait in line to pay for their food? No, not you! No waiting in line and no need to pay. It's like winning 1 minute of free shopping, except you can stay a bit longer.

5.       Did I mention FREE? Yes, all your shopping will be free. You can find everything you need in those dumpsters! If it is not in the dumpster, then you probably don’t really need it. Think about it… is there a way to live without it? Can you use stuff you find to make an alternative?

6.       You are helping the environment tremendously! Not only can you save food from being wasted and ending up in landfills, but you can also separate the packaging from the food, thereby recycling a LOT of plastic. And if you don’t eat meat/fish, you can give it to someone who does on a regular basis, so that they will no longer go shopping for meat. That way you can even save some animals' lives! (If you are not sure why eating meat and fish is bad for the environment in addition to being cruel, watch the documentary Cowspiracy).

7.       You even help the stores, because you reduce their environmental footprint by reducing their waste. Often, stores have to pay someone for the removal of their trash, but you do it for free! How convenient for them!

8.       As stated in point 1, dumpster diving helps you try out new foods and new combinations, because you have to work with whatever you find. This also makes you creative! Creativity is a skill and it can be developed. And if you practice regularly then it will improve. And I think one can never be too creative! You will also find yourself cooking more often and more elaborately.

9.       You learn so much about food. You learn to smell, touch, pre-taste and examine your food closely before you eat it. You learn about expiry dates and when (not) to take them seriously. You learn about food production, distribution and waste. And most of all, you learn how much food really is available. After a while this can help you feel more self-reliant, because you know that whatever might happen, you will be able to find your own food. You won’t depend on money anymore to feed yourself. You also become more mindful about eating, because you know where your food came from (at least in part) and the long journey it has had before finding you.

10.   And last but not least: Dumpster diving is a great way to share with others and to give freely. So share your finds with others and enjoy the feeling of giving without expecting anything in return (after all, you have all that you need now)! It is the best feeling in the world. Give to the same people regularly, so that you learn what they like and so that you can bring them their favorites. And it won’t even cost you anything! You may even find money in the dumpster... Yes, this has happened to me several times.

BONUS: It also helps you simplify your life instantly because you can experience very quickly that you can find anything you need. Not just food items, but everything else, which makes you feel rich with nothing. It gives you a glimpse of the possibility to really enjoy life without having to work extra-long hours (or even work at all). The possibilities are endless.

You may find treasures like these (I found 24 of those double-layered boxes of chocolates recently):

P.S.: If you are inspired to get started, you can read my GUIDE on dumpster diving HERE.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Stop Shopping Challenge

On 1 December 2014, I started a one year challenge to Stop Shopping, but the experience has been so rewarding for me that I am planning to extend it further, to encompass at least the entire duration of my PhD. As with all things in life that are challenging and rewarding, it does require some commitment and perseverance, but I can guarantee that it is totally worth it!

At first the challenge was to simply stop buying anything in any kind of shop, but during my challenge I managed to eliminate all of my other expenses as well, including rent! It may sound like an impossible task, but it completely worked out for me. And it could work out for you too (at least as a start the stop-shopping part)! I will describe the basics of the challenge here.

Are you ready to challenge yourself or challenge a friend? Then join the Stop Shopping Movement!

My main resources and how I got started:

1. To prepare for my challenge, I did a lot of research on alternative ways to do things for free that normally cost money. I learned about dumpster diving and did it regularly for about six months before starting my challenge. I found out about alternatives to toilet paper (family cloth) in case I would run out. And I stopped using deodorant and regular tooth paste. Instead I use limes to smell nice and oils for cleaning my teeth (at the moment I am using coconut oil), both without toxic chemicals, unlike their store-bought equivalents. Also, I got a menstrual cup, which saves me the hassle of having to buy pads and is much better for the environment too.

2. To start out, the most important skill that I needed to have was Dumpster Diving, as food was one of my biggest expenses. Dumpsters proved to be a real good resource for me (and not nearly as dirty as I thought, as almost everything was neatly packaged in cardboard and/or plastic, or stuffed in garbage bags). I have found EVERYTHING in dumpsters. Not just all kinds of foods (including baking oils, pasta and rice, fresh and dried herbs, and tons of chocolate) but also flowers, cleaning products, huge amounts of laundry detergent, shampoo and all kinds of soaps.... Literally everything I needed. After a few months of intensive diving, I only had to go once or twice a week for fruits and veggies to sustain myself, although I usually went more often for fun.

3. Picking up food directly from the supermarkets, to give away to charities was the next logical step. Knowing that so much food was being thrown away, I just couldn't stand by and do nothing. So I decided to search for shop managers who were willing to donate their food waste. Many of them were not willing to do this, but some of them were. I found two shops via a charity organization (Folkekj√łkken) that I could help out with. However, charities usually don't take food that has expired and only vegan food, so that meant a lot of the food was still homeless. I could definitely not eat all of it myself, so I started searching for more people to donate food to. I started advertising the free food on a local (free) website, with pictures and a short description. And it did not take long before I had several people (single moms, unemployed people, foreign workers) who picked up food on a regular basis. They are always incredibly grateful and this has made me even more committed to the food rescue. Plus it is a great way to give back to society and to show my gratitude for getting everything for free.

4. I also use the local website (Finn.no) for finding free stuff; things that other people give away. Anything can be found here, including flatscreen TVs, fridges, complete kitchens, etc. I got a bicycle trailer from there and some bikes. And later I got another bike trailer from a friend who was moving and no longer needed it. The bike trailer is definitely a must-have for me, because often I get so much food from the shops that I cannot carry it in one backpack (and not even two). Sometimes the trailer is so full that I have to walk, or go back and forth several times.

5. I also have a prepaid phone but I never use it. I only have it so that others can contact me. I don’t like being on the phone anyway. I know all the wifi hotspots and use them for sending messages and staying up to date. If I do want to speak with friends or family, I just ring them and hang up. They know that I will be available on Skype then and if they are available, they will call me back via Skype.

6. I bike and walk everywhere. I no longer own a car. This is such a relief! And it saves me a lot of money. Plus I don't need to go to the gym anymore (which I actually never did; I much prefer going somewhere). Since starting my challenge I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff that I thought I needed and it has been wonderful to simplify my life. Once I got rid of it I realized what a burden it is to have all this stuff. Everything you own brings forth worries and complications, especially things that need insurance and regular payments such as a car.

7. Trading. Trading is a last resort if I really need something but can’t get it in any other way. I can trade my time, skills, possessions, or anything else for what I need. This is how I finally got rid of my last expense: rent. Yes, I found a free place to live, in exchange for free food. My host family is amazing; they said they were just very inspired by the way I live and they wanted to help out somehow so they offered me a room and practically private bathroom in their house for free, even without being concerned about the details
at all or about what they might get back. This shows how generous and kind-hearted people can be.

The benefits of my challenge for myself, others and for the earth seem quite obvious, but I will list them here anyway:

1. I do not finance any corporations or silently condone the further destruction of our planet by buying products that may have those kinds of side effects. It is often difficult to know what to buy without contributing to destruction, as there are so many things that consumers don't know about the products they buy and about the companies that create the products, so by completely removing yourself as a consumer you can stop the madness and stop feeding money-hungry individuals and corporations until you find out what you truly need and which products are truly sustainable..

2. I have found that since I started my challenge, I have become very creative and resourceful in finding ways to do things for free. This is rewarding in itself, because it makes me feel wealthy with much less and it makes me appreciate the little things. My life has also simplified a lot because I realized that I did not need as much stuff as I previously thought.

3. Since I am living off of other people's waste, I am not producing any waste by consumerism. I also contribute to the environment by recycling waste that was previously unsorted. Supermarket dumpsters do not separate their trash and most of the food that is thrown out is still packaged. By rescuing the food, I can make sure that the items get separated into their correct waste bins. Another benefit is that by diving I can prevent still-useful items from ending up in landfills. Again, this helps the environment and it helps me (and sometimes others too).

4. I redistribute good food and other useful products and help a lot of people that way. I save them money and encourage them to also spend less money in supermarkets, thereby creating ripples of positivity. This also helps reduce global waste levels. Even though we are rarely confronted with the existence or the effects of waste, the problem is very real. There is an abundance on one end and a shortage on another end. Bringing those two ends together solves two structural problems.

5. I have learned a lot about food and about what happens behind the scenes in the places where food is sold. I use common sense, my eyes and my nose when checking food for edibility. I have also learned how much packaging stores really use to wrap products, as most of the products I find are packaged. It is absolutely mind boggling. Even the tiny portion of food that I keep for myself leaves so much plastic wrapping that it is often too much for our recycling bin. This is definitely something I do not want to support and I will no longer pay for packaged products after my challenge. In fact, there are a lot of products that I will no longer pay for (and thus support financially), such as meat, fish and dairy products.

6. I have discovered the true value of life, which has nothing to do with money. I have also discovered that there are many people who still help others for different reasons than financial gain and that alone has restored my faith in humanity. It means so much more if someone helps you unconditionally, and it also means a lot more if I am able to help another person without getting anything in return. It is what life is all about, and it is something we tend to forget when being caught-up in the money system.

6. I save lots of money. This is obviously a great benefit and it was my main motivation to get started with this challenge. However, almost one year into the challenge, it has become more of a side-benefit than a main motivator. I have gained so much from this challenge that it is difficult to put it all into words. I have especially gained a great sense of freedom and a deep-rooted sense of security through my new perspective and lifestyle. It is like learning modern-day survival skills. But it is also true that I am now able to save 100% of my income. With the money I save, I plan to build a self-sustainable, environmentally friendly eco-home one day; probably after I finish my PhD.

The final challenge:

Updated: As mentioned before, my final challenge was finding a free place to live, but even that has worked out! I hope this post shows that it is possible to start living more freely, and that anything is possible with some persistence, dedication and conviction. I hope it will inspire others who want to do the same. If you feel inspired, then join me on this challenge! You can also challenge a friend or challenge each other and do it together.

If you choose to join me on the Stop Shopping Challenge, I would love to hear more about your progress and experiences!

(For a related post about this challenge, check out robgreenfield.tv/liselotte: the post that started this blog. Also check out my tips for moneyless living here!)

About me

Me when I was younger with my best friend - Our rescue dog Goofy

Ever since I was little, I have always felt connected to the earth and the plants and animals. It is a natural way of being for me. I love nature and spending time in nature, and being around animals. However, society as we know it (and as we have created it) provides little time and opportunity for connecting and tuning in with the earth. This is why I feel that many people, including myself until recently, have lost their way. We have lost our connection with each other and with our environment. We have lost our sense of harmony and balance. We have lost our sense of who and what we are. And most of all, we have exchanged our freedom and self-determination for some superficial, fallacious securities and comforts. In other words, we have given up all that really matters for lesser substitutes.

Upon realizing this, I started my journey of reversing my subconscious agreement with the status quo. I want to take action and claim back my life, step-by-step. I want to reconnect with the earth, other creatures, and myself and live in harmony with nature. That means simplifying my life and giving up all the luxuries and possessions that the world/economy has to offer, and getting back to all the richness that the earth provides.

I used to believe that changes like this can only be made through radical action, but I have learned that change does not need to happen in one step. In fact, it is probably much easier to take it one step at a time, because if you expect it to happen all at once, then you will be waiting for that 'big moment'. Waiting for the right place, the right time... and it may never come. That is when I decided to take it one step at a time. I will keep going until I am completely free, living in the flow of the present at all times, living in harmony with the earth, plants and other beings and living a sustainable lifestyle that is good for the earth instead of destructive. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I also know that I have come a long way already and that I am heading in the right direction. My priorities lie no longer with myself, but with the earth, all that lives and all the resources that the earth provides.

In October 2014 I started working as a PhD Candidate in environmental psychology here in Trondheim, Norway. Here I noticed that many people did not seem to know about the state of our earth nor what does and doesn't contribute to its destruction. This made me decide to take even more direct action and no longer just keep my decisions for myself. I started with my public Stop Shopping Challenge and noticed that many people got intrigued and even inspired. And that is how this blog came to be. This blog will be a record of my journey towards greater freedom, inner peace and living sustainably, in harmony with the earth and all its inhabitants.

I hope that my journey will inspire others and that this blog can be a place for sharing ideas on sustainable living.