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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-28-08, 03:48 PM   #376
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I don't know if I live simply or not. Instead I try to always be learning more about *how* to live. That is, how to do things, how to make things, how to grow things, how to interact with people. Not to get *too* philisophical, but it ends up being an excercise in how to be more in touch with, basically, reality. This is how I recently got interested in bikes-- a transportation machine I can learn to fix and modify myself...
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Old 01-28-08, 08:37 PM   #377
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Originally Posted by TheFool View Post
I don't know if I live simply or not. Instead I try to always be learning more about *how* to live. That is, how to do things, how to make things, how to grow things, how to interact with people. Not to get *too* philisophical, but it ends up being an excercise in how to be more in touch with, basically, reality. This is how I recently got interested in bikes-- a transportation machine I can learn to fix and modify myself...
That's quite deep. If you're getting in touch with reality, you're moving to something more profound than simplicity. You, sir, are no fool.
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Old 01-29-08, 07:16 AM   #378
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Well, don't expect that I somehow live up to my ideals or words or philosophies...

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You, sir, are no fool.
Well, The Fool in the tarot deck is actually the neophyte, who is yet to be enlightened, but I like to think, has his eyes innocently (an naively) open, as he undertakes his life's journey. I also like to think that he is having a more or less good time and has a sense of humor about his setbacks

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Old 01-29-08, 11:05 AM   #379
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I don't know if I live simply or not. Instead I try to always be learning more about *how* to live. That is, how to do things, how to make things, how to grow things, how to interact with people. Not to get *too* philisophical, but it ends up being an excercise in how to be more in touch with, basically, reality. This is how I recently got interested in bikes-- a transportation machine I can learn to fix and modify myself...
I Couldn't have said it better my man! I strive to do the same! It seems as though nobody has a clue how to do things for themselves. Self reliance is key!
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Old 01-30-08, 06:21 PM   #380
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(To the first post)

So, you only own one bike?!
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Old 02-01-08, 06:55 PM   #381
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simplicity

Just stumbled upon and spent a while digesting this thread.
I have studied simple living, I think it's a direction to head rather than a destination to arrive at, much like sustainability, its conceptual cousin. I recommend the Northwest Earth Institute which offers discussion courses at reasonable cost, in my neck of the woods there is an Eastern Heartland Earth Institute anyway it is just to get discussions going among folks not to tell anyone what they should think on the matter. In addition there is a book Your Money Or Your Life that many folks have found useful.

My own challenges are many on the simplicity path. But each year I make progress toward sustainability. By and large I think simplicity is just paring down your life "things" to what you "need" based on your identification and validation of your own core values that should be something you are proud to stand up for in your community, family and to those who come after us. I want to live in a sense of balance with the earth and the future living things that will inhabit it.

I have a vegetable garden and compost in my backyard all that grows on site as well as any vegetable scraps. I've planted many trees and shrubs on the property (native species mostly, preferring those that have edible fruit for humans and wildlife). Our older home has been slowly fixed up to our liking and we are adding energy efficient features whenever the chance arises. Last year it was new windows with low-e glass and I went out of my way to insulate the sash weight pocket cavities before they were installed.
My wife drives our family car a Prius for errands, and bikes our son to school in warmer weather. I also own but rarely drive a 2000 Insight. I commuted in it for several years when my office was located on a narrow 2-lane road by a bunch of trucking warehouses. No shoulder meant I couldn't safely bike there. The last 2 years I've been commuting by bike and bus to my office as it moved downtown, 5 miles away from home. 2 other cars sit parked most of the time at the curb-- they are old and paid for, and useful sometimes for camping trips, hauling junk, etc.

Before that my wife and I made some big decisions together to line up our choices about where we would live and work, to enable us to have a chance for her to stay home and help raise our son for a few years. This involved moving from the west coast bustle back to my midwestern city of origin, where we were happily surprised to see how much home we could afford for much less money. I still miss Seattle but it's been good for us in many ways to be where we are now.

Biking to work rocks. When/if I take the bus, it takes me 50% longer than biking. Plus no exercise. But I'm still trying to figure out the cold weather biking gear. The bus in my town is not ridden by many people from my neighborhood, it mostly serves the inner city poor.

Some things that I do which aren't, on the face of it, simple
, but I love doing them:
I recycle. I go out of my way to pick up recyclable stuff and get it recycled rather than seeing the resources wasted in the landfill or just scattered around the countryside as litter. I pick up trash to keep it out of the local river, including many tires and other junk.
I also tinker with bikes.Tinkering with bikes is not simple because I have a lot of spare parts, never know when one of them will come in handy to fix up a bike for me, a friend or family member. I try to keep them organized. I don't like the new sealed bearing cartridges because I don't know how to fix them or where to buy replacements. I am still learning more about threads and compatibilities, and still lack some of the more exotic tools like a head tube facing cutter. I don't know how to adjust all the different new bottom brackets and brifter systems out there nowadays either.
Note: I am however riding a singlespeed this winter, for the sheer simplicity (it's fun and plenty fast!).
I do collect bikes. My dad had this problem, but he also collects larger motorized farm implements... another story! I have probably about 12 bikes and 4 more frames on top of that. I'm trying to downsize... and will, come spring. Meanwhile, there are bikes for every purpose, as we all know... Bottom line: the bike that gets ridden today by me, is the one that helps me be car-free for that day. Hell, I'll probably bequeath some of my bikes to my descendants, they will still be maintained and rideable unlike most cars that will be in junkyards long before that.

I realize this is a rambling post, I have indeed spent much of the past afternoon (home today resting up from a flu, checking out the bike forums) reading this thread.

I also recommend checking several online resources:
Simply Living.org, a local group with much to offer on this topic
GRIST.org

Finally I think that living car-free is awesome for those who can. Choices about where you dwell, affect your freedom in transportation options. If you are lucky you can find the sweet spot where less of your money and time is spent maintaining the unsustainable car lifestyle.

I think the burbs are a big part of the problem, by the way. Cul de sacs, land rovers with brush guards on the fronts, and the idea that "Ive got mine, now go away" bespeak the lack of community that will never be sustainable in the end. Not to mention, they aren't very bikeable. We need to work together, stop segregating the haves and the have nots, and fix the city schools rather than flee them.

Car-free, Car-lite, etc. for those exploring the topic further, also see Terrapass and Better World Club -- they even offer roadside assistance plans for cyclists!!
What I'd REALLY like to see is a national initiative for Pay As You Drive auto insurance (it only makes sense!) so the true costs of automobile driving would be properly apportioned and more people would see financial benefits from being Car-Free for at least most days of the week or month. That, and a carbon tax on fossil fuel usage.
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Old 02-02-08, 07:26 AM   #382
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Living simply...well if it were a year or two ago then I would have very little to list in the way of belongings. I owned my bike, one bookshelf of books, a dresser from 1940's (all my clothes fit in it), a bamboo nightstand, and a few things of cookware. I didn't own a bed(pallets rock), tv, stereo, or computer...and I was happy this way.

Then I met my soon to be wife.

Now, I am still happy, but I own a real bed, two dressers (not my old one), a couch, loveseat, LOTS of kitchenware, dining room table, big ol' TV. My life has increased in complexity a great deal. I will be honest, my home has never been more cluttered and I feel like I am suffocating in useless crap. I love the woman to death, but a minimalist she ain't. She was brought up to believe that everyone should want the large house, white picket fence, two cars, and all nice stuff. Myself, I was brought up in the country with well water, farming, and hunting as our main way of subsistence. For me function is the only thing to be taken into consideration, not form. This is one of the most often points of clashing between us. I look at all this and say to myself "Look at all of this money that is just sitting here taking up space." We are looking at buying a small starter house. If this happens, I am going to make the move a major starting point for some simplification as I am will be working toward a conversion of the house to a more green and self-sustainable level.

Oh well. Such is the nature of the married man's "compromises".
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Old 02-03-08, 09:43 AM   #383
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Thanks Big2Wheeler and ataraxium. No sense in trying to be some kind of purist. Nothing wrong with comprimise. My wife and I live far away from where each of us currently works (and therefore we each drive) so that we can each do interesting and meaningful work and make enough to save for the future, but also live in a good community where we can work by ourselves and with neighbors on local self sufficiency and sustainability. Self sufficiency is a contradiction, really, you need to be part of some kind of local system or community. Any changes in how we all live are not going to happen by everyone radically changing overnight. Changes will be small and, I hope, be part of an integrated way of improving our towns and neighborhoods, along many dimensions.

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Old 02-03-08, 11:02 AM   #384
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Wow, I'm just floored by this thread. I had no idea other people try to live like this. I thought I was the only one because every house/apartment I visit is filled with DVDs, Ikea accents, TV, Wii, kitchen stuff, exercise equipment, etc.

I've been living a simple life ever since reading Into the Wild as a kid and am happy with my living situation. I live in a small cottage 1mi from work, no A/C, no dishwasher, no TV, no washer/dryer, no landline, very little furniture (no dresser since I have shelves in a closet), cook most nights, etc. and am proud to live that way. Unfortunately I feel really bad when I have people over because my place is so barren and people feel sorry for me because I own so little and walk to work. Gets really annoying during Christmas and my birthday because people feel obligated to give me things and I just don't need anything.

Anyways, I'm really glad other people live like I do and even more so. Huge relief because I thought I was all alone. Lot of great tips in this thread too, thanks. Myself I recommend Vanguard for investing/saving since they have really low expense ratio index funds (hell, the founder invented the index fund), everything can be done online, and they will only mail you something if they are legally required too. Also I really like my Nintendo DS, the unit and games take up hardly any space and is great fun. And if you have an extra closet you can just put shelves in it to use it as a dresser. Peace!
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Old 02-13-08, 06:06 PM   #385
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In 2008, one of my resolutions is to get to the farmers market every weekend and come up with some sustainable dishes I can see myself eating a lot.
Also, go around to garage sales and especially estate sales and pick yourself up some good cookware. Look for cast iron skillets and Revere ware pots and pans. Make sure that the bottoms are all flat. If they are bent, they will never cook evenly. A pyrex 2 cup measure and a flipper, a set of measuring cups and a variety of knives should start you. You will learn what else is needed as you cook more. Look for quality.

You can look at thrift stores, but I find that most of the thrift store stuff is beaten. That's why estate sales are best, you can get sets of stuff and it tends to be in good shape.

Look around for cooking classes. They are great places to meet girls.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 02-13-08, 06:28 PM   #386
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makes a lot of sense. drive around looking for used cookware spending your free time and money on gas when you could just buy a skillet and a couple of pots new.
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Old 02-13-08, 06:39 PM   #387
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makes a lot of sense. drive around looking for used cookware spending your free time and money on gas when you could just buy a skillet and a couple of pots new.
Depends on how you do it...I have stopped by a couple of estate sales just because I happened to be in the area, and scored various items that I had been looking for. In one case it was an antique radio that my brother was looking for to add to his collection. In another it was a brand new still in the box Mirro pressure cooker in a larger size, paid less than 2 cents on the dollar compared to what a new one ordered from where ever would have cost.

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Old 02-13-08, 07:11 PM   #388
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I don't live as simply as I would like to. I've tried to make my life as simple as possible, but I live within obligations at the moment that prevent going much farther.
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Old 02-14-08, 02:34 PM   #389
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makes a lot of sense. drive around looking for used cookware spending your free time and money on gas when you could just buy a skillet and a couple of pots new.
Well, I think most of us would not drive around looking for cookware, we would ride our bikes.

It gets to be a self-sustaining habit. You stop at yard sales, etc, and you have a mental list of things you need. You buy them when you see them. For example, one thing I'm always looking for is cashmere and merino sweaters. Every so often I find one for a couple bucks and I buy it. It's such a luxurious feeling to use a $300 cashmere sweater as an undershirt. Especially when it cost you less than most new T-shirts!

Of course if you need a particular item right away, it often makes more sense to purchase it new.
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Old 02-15-08, 07:22 AM   #390
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makes a lot of sense. drive around looking for used cookware spending your free time and money on gas when you could just buy a skillet and a couple of pots new.
We ride our bikes to the farmer market and stop off at garage sales during the trip. If we want to buy something that won't fit on the bike, we ask if we can pay and come back. If they say no, they loose a sale.
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Old 02-16-08, 06:17 AM   #391
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makes a lot of sense. drive around looking for used cookware spending your free time and money on gas when you could just buy a skillet and a couple of pots new.
Well, since this the the car-free living forum, one would assume that you don't drive to estate sales.

You get to combine a nice day's riding with getting to know new people and know the neighborhoods near you better. Estate sales are often well advertised, and you can get a pan for $5 that would cost you $35 in the store. Quality is the important part. Good cookware will last you all your life. I'm using Revere ware that my Grandfather owned. So maybe it lasts for more than all your life. Not a bad deal for $5.

And, why do you suggest buying new? That helps to fuel excess demand for new goods while perfectly serviceable goods get tossed. A good example. Walking home from the bank today, I saw signs for an estate sale. At the sale I got a plastic tub, some good kitchen knives and a pair of scissors. My feet will enjoy soaking in the tub. No new tubs were made. And I help humanity get as much use out of the plastic as possible.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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Old 02-18-08, 02:29 PM   #392
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Hmm, are you an Ed Wood fan?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144185/

Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora (1994) (V)
No...I'm just damn pretty in pink.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:12 PM   #393
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No...I'm just damn pretty in pink.
...got pictures

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Old 02-18-08, 04:32 PM   #394
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I like to think I live a pretty simple life. The only furniture I own is my bed, a couple of nice rocking chairs, a book shelf, my sewing machine, and a floor lamp. I cook all my own meals, and rarely use anything premade. I only go out to eat on special occaisions. I don't own a TV or a microwave. I try to make a lot of my own clothes, and I make them to fit perfectly, look exactly how I want, and last forever. I do own a laptop, mostly just for music, but I do take it to the coffee shop sometimes to play on the internet (mostly I use the internet from work). I own a car as well, but that's because I haven't figured out a way to get rid of it yet. My family and friends live aobut 250 miles away, and I have a dog, so greyhound buses are out (unless I want to pretend he's a seeing eye dog.) I try to use my car as little as possible. I also own a bunch of camping/outdoor gear. A couple pairs of skis, rock climbing stuff, bike stuff, backpacking stuff, and canoe stuff. I have no credit cards, and am almost debt free (I owe my brother and mom a bit each yet from when I was going through a rough time). I can easily haul all of my posessions with my Honda CRX towing a tiny trailer.

I think I've done well, considering I'm a recovering packrat. When I moved out of my parents' house I took half a dozen trips with a pickup truck to move all my crap, plus I stored some things in my parents' attic. I feel so much better without all that stuff. Especially the TV and Microwave. TV takes too much time out of your day, and microwaves make you lazy and less likely to actually cook for yourself.

I am looking for some advice, though. Does anyone know of any bus lines that are pet friendly? I would like to get rid of my car, but I just can't see how right now. I'm also waiting for Milwaukee buses to get bike racks on them.
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Old 03-14-08, 04:19 PM   #395
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Now I just have to work on spending my money more effectively on food.
I used to spend a lot of money on food, and then I discovered dumpster diving. That extra two hundred dollars a month goes a long way.
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Old 03-14-08, 06:14 PM   #396
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I used to spend a lot of money on food, and then I discovered dumpster diving. That extra two hundred dollars a month goes a long way.
So, most of your diet comes out of the dumpster? Cause my wife and I together only need about $300 to eat at home all month (by buying at a grocery store, and not a cute rate one)...
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Old 03-17-08, 12:55 PM   #397
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In June I moved halfway across the country to a city I did not know nor knew anyone in. Beforehand sold everything I owned including my car and every piece of furniture I owned. I had two suitcases of clothes and two small carry-on bags. I did not own a bike at the time so that did not factor into my move.

Now that I am in Austin and have been car free (first time since I was 16), I love it. Except, maybe, riding with traffic and breathing the smog.....

I now own a bed, desk, futon, dining room table (donated from Aunt), and cooking ware (donated from Uncle, in his college days). That's all of significant size which would slow me down in moving again.


I got the bike (a Miyata Nimbus) in late December and have been riding it everyday and done lots of upgrades. It is a bike I'm putting in the Tour de Cure and will possibly race the AT&T Criterium with. Not sure if I'm going to do that yet. I'm still figuring out the grocery store thing with the bike and my larger laptop bag-that-doubles-as-my-overnight-at-the-girls-or-messenger-bag. Need to get a bigger one...
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Old 03-17-08, 02:28 PM   #398
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Maybe I save more like $150 dollars a month, I don't really know. The thing is I ate a lot worse before the dumpster days because I didn't have enough money to buy what I wanted. Now I get probably about 3/4 of my food from the trash and buy anything that I couldn't afford/can't find. I save money, eat better and get to meet a bunch of people I wouldn't meet normally so it all works itself out for the better.
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Old 03-22-08, 01:00 PM   #399
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When I was in my early 20's I lived a lifestyle with few frills. I wouldn't call it simple as that seems a bit luxurious so I will refer to it as a spartan lifestle.
But now with a wife, three kids, two dogs and others, living that way is no longer an option.
So enjoy it while you can.
But someday I plan on returning to my original way of life. My wife is terrified at the thought of it.
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Old 03-22-08, 01:02 PM   #400
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Originally Posted by seagull.apollo View Post
Maybe I save more like $150 dollars a month, I don't really know. The thing is I ate a lot worse before the dumpster days because I didn't have enough money to buy what I wanted. Now I get probably about 3/4 of my food from the trash and buy anything that I couldn't afford/can't find. I save money, eat better and get to meet a bunch of people I wouldn't meet normally so it all works itself out for the better.
You eat out of the garbage?
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