This is a story of a city guy from the ‘burbs’, finding his way out of a commercial, petroleum-based, urban bubble to live locally and in balance with the biosphere. While we may be at the peak of automatic comfort, citizens of all ages are learning to appreciate the sense of well-being that can come from living with renewable life support systems. The options are diverse. Hear how he describes his quest to wean himself from a life of fast food, wasteful energy consumption and pollution to more locally based, in sync living.
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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio…reporting on positive change, taking root.
This is a story of a city guy from the ‘burbs,’ finding his way out of a commercial, petroleum-based, urban bubble to live locally and more in balance with the biosphere. While we may be at the peak of automatic comfort, citizens of all ages are learning to appreciate the sense of well-being that can come from living with renewable, life support systems. The options are diverse.
Doug Fine, a traveling journalist from SE NM, author of Farewell My Subaru and a contributor to NPR, realized that our fossil fuel based society was seriously hurting the Earth… and decided to take action. He set out to wean himself from a life of fast food, wasteful energy consumption and pollution to more locally based, in sync living. He describes his quest.
Fine: I wanted to show that I could live locally without eating steamed dirt in some remote cabin in my sandals somewhere. I wanted to show that I could keep my comforts going. When I tried to live locally, coyotes ate my chickens, and solar panels nearly electrocuted me and my vegetable oil exhaust gave me a bad case of the munchies because it smells like kung pao chicken. But 3 years in, I’ve got about 90 percent of the petroleum out of my life and I still have my washing machine, my internet, my booming stereo subwoofers. I feel as though I have given up nothing except oil.
Doug’s passion for a petroleum fast was ignited by personal experience.
Fine: When I lived in Alaska, I was invited by some Inupiaq Eskimos to help them land an 80,000-pound whale and I noticed that people were falling through the ice… a lot. This was because of this thing called climate change, which was at the time at theory. And it was when I nearly fell into the Arctic Ocean myself that I said I wanted to see if just a regular person could help turn the tide by not burning fossil fuels anymore. And I did some research and I figured out that if I could start living sustainably in three areas, I could get probably 90% or more of the petroleum out of my life. So, those three areas were home power, almost effortlessly, I converted to solar power and run my whole world on solar power. Then the second area was food. Just by living locally, trying to patronize the farmers in my area and grow food myself, raise some chickens and goats, I was able to get the petroleum largely out of my food. And third area is in my vehicle. I thought vegetable oil was the best option for that and so now I am driving all around without ever stopping at the gas pump.
But with life so busy with work, kids and all the details, how can people afford this shift?
Fine: My message, that I hope comes out loud and clear, is that living sustainably is not just for really rich folks. My suggestion is for folks to just take it one step at a time. Sustainability and green, I believe, is not a fad anymore. Everybody realizes that its important for everything from a strong, safe America to economic recovery to the species surviving. We’ve got to do something to about getting rid of the coal power plants and getting rid of the petroleum so that we can live sustainably and keep enjoying all these comforts. The future without oil and without burning coal is not some sort of cave man future where everybody’s suffering. We can keep living the good life if we take it one step at a time, one person at a time. We’re really lucky, because now is probably the best time in human history for folks to think about living sustainably. All the materials, the panels, all those things are getting more and more affordable through tax breaks and government is really supporting this idea of building a stronger economy through retrofitting our world to be more sustainable. Anybody who has hesitated and wondered can I do it can I afford it, there’s never been a better time to go sustainable than now.
Fine says a more sustainably based life has its rewards.
Fine: Moving to a sustainable life, trying to eat locally, grow my food, to drive on an alternative fuel, to power my world by solar, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and the healthiest I’ve ever been. For me, there is a direct connection between living sustainably and personal happiness.
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Climate change may be a serious threat to humanity, but sustainable living is always beneficial. Change starts at school, home and work by getting involved with issues you care about.
I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels. Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio….digging up good news… for a change.