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How can I become more of a closet dirty hippie?
December 20, 2009 3:19 PM   Subscribe

I don't wear deodorant, wash my hair, or run in shoes. What else can I stop doing?

A couple years ago now, upon becoming much more conscious of my diet, I discovered that deodorant is unnecessary, and in fact perpetuates a cycle in which you stink when you don't wear it because you've been wearing it. When I gave it up for good, I smelled a little for a short adjustment period (two days or so) and then I was fine.

Maybe six months ago, I stumbled upon something about the "curly girl" or "no poo" thing. I read about it some and stopped using shampoo. Same deal. I found (and confirmed through reading) that you need the shampoo only because you've been using shampoo. And again, after another adjustment period, my hair is not stinky or greasy and is much healthier. If I actually get some kind of crap in my hair, I wash it with only the amount of conditioner necessary. Whenever either of these two subjects come up I invariably get smelled, confirming that I'm socially acceptable.

Not long after that, I started reading about running barefoot. About how there has never been any evidence that running shoes do anything to prevent injury and, in fact, increases the risk of all kinds of injuries. I'd already been using Nike Frees and I've always tended to go barefoot when there's no reason to wear shoes, so my transition has been fairly smooth. A plantar wart cleared up promptly, my stamina immediately improved, and it just feels like how it's supposed to be. Also, I have to admit that I like people's reactions when they see someone running around town barefoot.

So, what else do most people just assume is absolutely necessary that isn't? Bonus for things that perpetuate their own cycle like the examples I've mentioned.

Oh, and I've read some about curtailing the use of soap, but, like my examples, it only works if the body part concerned is normal and healthy, which my skin is not (acne).
posted by cmoj to Society & Culture (87 answers total) 112 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mobile phones. Nice to have in case of roadside emergencies, but otherwise, meh.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:29 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wearing tampons. My wife has a mooncup and it means no money spent on tampons.. just a once-off investment :-)
posted by wackybrit at 3:31 PM on December 20, 2009 [15 favorites]


Well, the obvious answer is, burn your bra. Whether that actually "works", of course, is as controversial as not using deodorant or shampoo, but it's clearly in the "dirty hippie" tradition you referenced in your title.
posted by orthogonality at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, any form of shaving, but I'm guessing you don't do any of that anyway given your ambitions here :-)
posted by wackybrit at 3:33 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with you wholeheartedly about deodorant and shampoo. Daily use of toothpaste is also unnecessary.
posted by whiskeyspider at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The internet (computers in general)- very extraneous and oh so time wasting.
posted by TheBones at 3:46 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Using the full amount of laundry detergent.

Peeling carrots.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:47 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Being someone's full-time employee.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:48 PM on December 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


You never need to wash clothes in hot- ever. The only laundry that really needs hot water are your beddings, to kill dust mites.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:49 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Using corporate detergent at all- here's a link to how.
posted by TheBones at 3:51 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read somewhere--in a piece by a physician, I believe--that soap (of any type) can be dispensed with for all parts of the body, except for the hands. (These attract germs and need to be washed, no matter how purist you are).

So, even though "soapdodger" is a pejorative in some parts of the world, you might experiment with dumping soap entirely, apart from a bar or bottle of Dr. Bronner's to disinfect your hands. (Since you're running barefoot, you might give a spritz from the Bronner bottle to your feet after a run as well.)

This move might even have a positive effect on the acne.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:51 PM on December 20, 2009


Well, what else do you use? How important these things are is very subjective. As I'm sure you know, people have different experiences (both from trying themselves and from having friends who have tried) regarding giving up the products you mention. It seems like the best solution would be to consider everything you do use, think about whether you'd be willing to try some time without it, and at least for those whose use is essentially convenience or cosmetic (such as shampoo and deodorant), try going without.

For things that have possible health repercussions, it may be worth doing more research.
posted by mdn at 3:53 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Watching television and reading magazines.
Sleeping in a bed.
Shaving.
Make-up.
Wearing garments that advertise for the brand (jeans are the hardest for this because of the tag on the back, but there's no reason for a shirt to say 'calvin klein' on the front unless I'm getting paid to wear it).
Vaginal douching. I've never tried it, but much of the science says it's downright bad for you. I find soap down there to be a nuisance, so I just wash my bits with water.
Lighting the outside of your home while you sleep.
Using a fresh towel after every shower.

(The bra thing isn't universal. For huge knickers, a lack of support can cause problems.)
posted by bilabial at 4:00 PM on December 20, 2009


As Wordwoman says above, there is a certain element of this cyclical thing for working (especially full time work). Full time work means many people spend more money buying clothes to wear to work, getting there, buying convenience foods because they are too tired to cook, buying diet programs because they are not cooking good food and they won't make time to exercise, and buying things to cheer themselves up because they are depressed because they are at work all the time (and they never do any exercise etc etc). Most people need some work to live, but probably could get by with far less. There are those people who manage to have a 1 income family, finding with more time they can find ways to save money, and others who say it is impossible and you have to have 2 incomes just to get by.

Having a car, perhaps also. I think there are probably lots of things that I wouldn't get around to buying if I didn't have a car, and I certainly buy less at the supermarket when I go on foot. People who assume that having a car is a given then often arrange their life in a way that makes it necessary eg living somewhere where they need a car to get around. My friend who doesn't have a car always rents carefully so that she can continue to be carless.

It seems that there is some evidence that using too many antibacterial cleaners around the homes means kids end up with more allergies and asthma (probably prompting their parents to go into even greater fits of cleaning).
posted by AnnaRat at 4:02 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


According to my ex-employers, shoes have something to do with sanitary conditions like not spreading Athlete's foot. As employees in a grocery store, we were all required to wear socks while working, in addition to shoes.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:03 PM on December 20, 2009


What are your motivations exactly? You said you became more health conscious, how about raw foods? Growing your own? If you are also trying to be more ecologically conscious, how about re-using every scrap piece of paper you find. I knew an eco-anarchista that tried to re-use Q-tips. We sort of had to intervent there. But I suppose you could wash them.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 4:06 PM on December 20, 2009


Eating meat?
posted by madcaptenor at 4:09 PM on December 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


These are all great life-improvement suggestions in general, but let me narrow the scope a little.

Part of the point is the extent to which using or doing something unnecessary is ingrained in our society. People are astonished that I'm not wearing deodorant, but don't stink. It just doesn't compute sometimes. Sometimes when I'm running, people actually cry out in surprise. To use giving up a car as an example, no one thinks that EVERYONE has a car and there's no alternative.

I'm not trying to become an ascetic, either. If you don't shave (I do) you grow a beard. If you stop using deodorant, not much happens.

Oh, and I'm a male. "Curly girl" is just the common thing to google for.
posted by cmoj at 4:27 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, what else do most people just assume is absolutely necessary that isn't?

I think the only things which truly are absolutely necessary to live are eating/drinking, sleeping, and ridding the body of wastes. I think food is the biggest obstacle - in the modern world, being a hunter-gatherer is probably very hard. If you can find a way to do that, and live in a warm enough climate, then you can probably do away with truly everything else - clothing, money, shelter, etc.

Short of being a hunter-gatherer, you could attempt to secure adequate farmland and live off of that. (You could try doing so off public lands, but that would probably be illegal and therefore pose its own risks.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:29 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Using a dryer.
posted by meowzilla at 4:29 PM on December 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Shaving cream. Utterly pointless.
posted by pompomtom at 4:46 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Do you use fabric softener? Such a scam. I stopped using it, and honeslty, my towels did better at drying me off, and I didn't have any more static cling.

Laundry care would work well here. I now use Ivory flakes & vinegar in the rinse cycle, with cold water.

Butter doesn't go in the fridge, it goes in a butter bell. Use vitamin E oil, not expensive wrinkle cream. In the cold northeast winter, I don't shower every day -I have a washcloth.
posted by kellyblah at 4:47 PM on December 20, 2009


Underwear isn't necessary, though it helps when it's cold out. You don't need to receive paper bills, have a TV, or use air-conditioning. people who go to the doctor for every cough or fever, and who have gotten antibiotics for a cold. Use evites instead of paper invitations. Wear a sweater and weatherproof your house instead of turning up the heat. Cook at home, and buy things in bulk; this will also eliminate waste. Don't give gifts, or if you do, wrap them in fabric instead of paper. Trash isn't essential -- compost, and try to avoid making it in the first place. I'm sure someone will argue with me, but there's a lot of over-medicating and antibiotic-prescribing. Don't go around making others sick, but I know

(FYI, don't use soap on your face; it might actually be making you break out. Check out the oil-cleansing method.)
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:51 PM on December 20, 2009


Not only is bottled water a complete waste, but the whole "8 glasses a day thing" is mythology. If you're not thirsty, you don't need to drink that much.

Unless you sleep in an unheated room in a cold climate, pyjamas are unnecessary (and anyway, t shirts and track pants you already own -- how weird is it to have specialist sleeping clothes?).

Apropos shaving -- hot water and a little soap is all that is required to soften and lube your stubble.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:53 PM on December 20, 2009


To use giving up a car as an example, no one thinks that EVERYONE has a car and there's no alternative.

I don't know, it's amazing how shocked some people are by carlessness. Or maybe not by carlessness itself, but by the idea of walking as transportation for anything further than a mile or two.
posted by threeants at 4:55 PM on December 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


A microwave and a lot of one-use specialty appliances. Muffin-maker? Please...
posted by jgirl at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


For things that have possible health repercussions, it may be worth doing more research.

Yeah, seconding this. The suggestion not to use toothpaste upthread sticks out at me. If you eat a lot of sugar, or even a lot of carbohydrates or citrusy foods, fluoride can really, really, help you keep your teeth.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:11 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've a minor quibble with the "underwear isn't needed" and "sheets aren't needed".

Those items are there to catch the human effluvia we generate. Underwear is easier and more economical to wash than clothes. Sheets are there to keep body oils off your blankets; same deal with pillowcases.

Yes, you can give them up, but you're not gaining anything except crusty jean-crotches and blankets that are slick with body oil, which IS smelly and decreases the insulating ability.

I agree completely that soap, shampoo and toothpaste are unnecessary. Soap doesn't kill germs; it just makes it a little easier to get the "germs" off. That said, as a nurse, I wash my hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. It's a time-saver. If I didn't use soap, I'd need to take a LOT more time washing before I touch someone.
posted by reflecked at 5:14 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you stop eating added sweeteners in all their forms (from sugar to agave to splenda), it really freaks people out. Ditto on processed foods. It doesn't seem to compute with many people that you just DON'T need to have a diet soda and dip into the candy bowl every time you walk by one.
posted by smalls at 5:22 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I guess to align my sugar example with things that perpetuate their own cycle... for me, at least, the more sweet things I eat, the more sweet things I crave.
posted by smalls at 5:26 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who gave up toilet paper, she just kept a washcloth near the toilet and rinsed it out after use. Think about it, toilet paper is a recent invention, our ancestors survived without it.
posted by mareli at 5:28 PM on December 20, 2009


Seconding watching (or even owning) a television.
posted by jonesor at 5:38 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if you haven't already given up on TV, and don't want to give it up completely: cable. People tend to be extremely shocked when they find out that I don't pay for cable every month, but still manage to watch television. An antenna and a converter box is all that's needed in most areas to get around ten stations, which is plenty.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:40 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just want to chime in here and say that I did "no shampoo" for about a year, and while it worked fine for me, my SO told me that my hair/head did start to smell after a little while. I used baking soda as a substitute, usually once per week, sometimes less. My hair definitely felt the same after about a 1-2 week adjustment period, but apparently a "greasy" smell remained. Maybe I'm just a greasy person in general. I've since switched to an all-natural shampoo/conditioner (none of the foaming chemicals, etc) and find it works almost the same as no shampoo/baking soda but I get a bit of nice shampoo/conditioner smell. Just my $.02

No toothpaste? That strikes me as a little off...

How about no paper products? I don't know if I'm cool with not using TP, but what about kleenex (handkerchief) and paper towels (cloth napkins)?
posted by jckll at 6:14 PM on December 20, 2009


You can eat the cores of apples. They don't taste as good, but they're definitely edible.
posted by dr. boludo at 6:23 PM on December 20, 2009


Seconding shaving cream. Never use it, never cut myself.
posted by amro at 6:28 PM on December 20, 2009


Try using just one plate, one bowl, one glass for food and drink. Reuse multiple times, only rinsing when necessary (such as after having eaten something with lots of sauce). This saves time on washing, and reduces the amount of room required for having multiples of the same thing. Of course, if you have guests then you still need the extra plates.

Wear the same clothes multiple times between washing, I don't know why people tend to think that everything needs to be washed after being worn once. You can literally wear the same thing 10 times and have it not smell if you're not doing anything that causes you to sweat.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 6:29 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Using Microsoft Word--instead of a simple text editor--to write anything on a computer
posted by capitalist.pig at 6:34 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


To clarify my comment about toothpaste: a good diet along with daily brushing and flossing will maintain good oral hygiene. Occasional brushing with toothpaste or a homemade paste (such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide) can't hurt -- but the twice daily applying of soap (plus loads of chemicals) to our teeth is unnecessary.
posted by whiskeyspider at 6:40 PM on December 20, 2009


totally get where you're coming from. i'm a complete neat freak / germ phobe, but i gave up deodorant and toothpaste years ago and am better off for it. there are a lot of marketing / brainwashing dollars put into those products, to make you think they're necessary. not quite sure why guys wear underwear either, unless they're bathroom hygiene is lacking (which is probably the case :).

interesting about the no shampoo. my hair (long-ish) is always better behaved when i don't wash it, but my scalp gets unhappy after a week or so. you say you have acne; doesn't your scalp break out if you don't use soap to remove some of the oils?
posted by phoeniciansailor at 6:42 PM on December 20, 2009


Not only is bottled water a complete waste, but the whole "8 glasses a day thing" is mythology. If you're not thirsty, you don't need to drink that much.

This is wrong. Very, very, very wrong.
posted by squorch at 6:54 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Speaking with your notes on cards or scraps of paper, or even from memory, and with no presentation. Maybe a few notes on a whiteboard/blackboard if necessary. Presentations = big fat waste of time and effort in many cases.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:56 PM on December 20, 2009


Sleeping in a bed
Alcohol and meat consumption
Television
Personal automobiles (rather than using public transit)
Buying food for the long term (go to market every day and only get what you need)
posted by honeybee413 at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2009


squorch: really?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


To clarify my comment about toothpaste: a good diet along with daily brushing and flossing will maintain good oral hygiene. Occasional brushing with toothpaste or a homemade paste (such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide) can't hurt -- but the twice daily applying of soap (plus loads of chemicals) to our teeth is unnecessary.

I'm just going to reiterate that people who eat lots of carbohydrates and citrus (in addition to, or in place of, "sweets") are good candidates for caries, particularly if you're genetically predisposed to them, unless you supplement that with some kind of fluoride (the source here? my dentist). There are over-the-counter fluoride supplements--gels and washes--if you'd rather forgo it in toothpaste. But if you're brushing already, it makes sense to just put it on the brush you're already using.

I know that, to some crunchy types, fluoride is considered controversial, but healthy teeth are important for good general health, and as a cavity-prone person myself, I can't help but feel that I'd rather be safe than sorry.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:17 PM on December 20, 2009


Flushing the toilet every time after peeing.
posted by Joleta at 7:18 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


not quite sure why guys wear underwear either, unless they're bathroom hygiene is lacking (which is probably the case :).

According to the Mister, underwear must be worn because "zippers rubbing against your crotch really hurts!"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:19 PM on December 20, 2009


Please, for the love of god, don't give up toilet tissue or facial tissues!

When you have a cold, carrying around a little cotton ball of your own snot makes you an excellent disease vector, unless you wash your hands thoroughly every time to take the hanky out or put it away.

Likewise, unless you are rinsing that butt cloth out with scalding hot water and bleach, you are essentially setting up a little e.coli hotel in your bathroom.

My slightly more useful recommendations: use your local library as much as possible instead of buying books. I've also been carless my entire life and haven't really missed much as a consequence. The bus is a great place to catch up on your reading, too.
posted by Jilder at 7:23 PM on December 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Actively working to seem cool, smart, hot, etc.
posted by kathrineg at 7:26 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Most carbohydrates. We were on a Specific Carbohydrate diet for about a year and a half for our daughter's Crohn's Disease (yes, it worked) and that means no complex carbs at all. Damned hard to get used to, and people around us just couldn't grok it at all.

Seconding cable TV. People don't freak out quite so much as for carbs, but they will look askance.

Console games? Closed-source software?

honeybee413, doing without a car and long-term shopping means you spend an awful lot of time every day shopping. Not sure I like that - actually, it's basically impossible where we live in America right now. In Europe, it's pretty much how we do it, though.

Most laundry, yeah. I change T-shirts and underwear daily, but pants only every couple of weeks and outer shirts or sweaters only when visibly dirty. If you're not doing sweaty work, there's no smell (or isn't for me, YMMV).

Carpet - wood or tile is healthier anyway. Of course, you may not be able to implement that one.

I draw the line at deodorant and shampoo, though. I need some decadence.
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:26 PM on December 20, 2009


May I suggest a fine handheld bidet instead of using a cloth (gah!) to clean up after bowel movements? You're still safer TP on the roll just to be sure, but a good rinse will cut down on TP usage significantly, and keep you feeling much fresher.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:28 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Reassess, reduce, or eliminate your furniture. Do you really need a couch, for example?
posted by anderjen at 7:32 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm a dirty hippie most of the time. I keep deodorant around if I need to spruce up before something and I can't take a full-on shower. Here are some things that I think you can do without. Please note that a lot of this depends on your social life and your living situation. Many of these are repeats.

- microwave
- tupperware [I use glass for most things and reuse/recycle old containers]
- saran wrap [I wrap cheese in supermarket bags and otherwise the stuff I eat doesn't need it]
- most household cleaning products [you can make your own]
- paper towels
- kleenex type stuff [again, guests like this sort of thign, so it's up to you]
- most processed foods
- cable tv or any tv
- make-up
- professional haircuts
- dress-up clothes more than "one suit to wear to a wedding/funeral"

Then there are things that individuals don't always need but are good for groups of people to have and maybe you are the person in your group that has them

- tools
- laundry facilities
- automobile
- printer
- fax machine
- workshop

At the same time I have extra dishes and towels and blankets for guests. I keep moisturizer and a full first aid kit. I like my internet and my camera and my cell phone [though it's a recent-ish addition]. I have a lot of art supplies and letter-writing gear. I'm definitely not living an ascetic life at all [and I wear a bra!] but I like not investing in systems [i.e. tupperware type stuff] that I feel that there are easy ways around. Everyone draws these lines differently, and getting rid of the attachment to your own lines you draw is a useful part of this as well.
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


Take cold showers.
posted by collocation at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2009


Mouthwash. It doesn't actually do anything unless it's prescription, get a tongue scraper instead and floss regularly.
posted by atrazine at 7:49 PM on December 20, 2009


I think sleeping in a bed is a great answer for this. People sleep just fine on couches, on pillows on the floor, in random places around their house (if they spend 30 seconds to make them comfortable). Yet almost everyone has designated a single bed for sleeping.
posted by devilsbrigade at 8:20 PM on December 20, 2009


i_am_joe's_spleen: "Not only is bottled water a complete waste, but the whole "8 glasses a day thing" is mythology. If you're not thirsty, you don't need to drink that much."

squorch: "This is wrong. Very, very, very wrong."

There is lots of evidence that drinking when thirsty is insufficient and leads to dehydration, but it comes out of sources like USARIEM's "Medical Aspects of Harsh Environments". I shouldn't even need to say this, but data collected from soldiers marching through a desert in full kit are not applicable to Milton Waddams. If your situation is such that thirst is not enough, you would almost certainly know it.

i_am_joe's_spleen: "Speaking with your notes on cards or scraps of paper, or even from memory, and with no presentation. Maybe a few notes on a whiteboard/blackboard if necessary. Presentations = big fat waste of time and effort in many cases."

It's telling that joe's spleen is apparently using the word "presentation" to refer to a slideshow. Oh, Microsoft, why is your marketing so much better than your product?
posted by d. z. wang at 8:25 PM on December 20, 2009


I'd suggest being sure that whatever it is you do give up is in fact for yourself and not other people. That said:
-Talking (not forever or all the time, but just try not to speak for a full day, for example.)
-Alarm clock (you will probably wake up at the same time without one - or can easily train yourself to.)
-Wearing a watch
-Gym membership
-Greeting cards (Write a letter.)
-Soda (Easy.)
-Coffee (Hard, try tea.)
-Buying things?
-Giving a fuck?
posted by mike_bling at 8:35 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]



It's telling that joe's spleen is apparently using the word "presentation" to refer to a slideshow. Oh, Microsoft, why is your marketing so much better than your product?

Guilty as charged. In my defence, may I point out that an actual slideshow with actual slides would be a display of old-school bad-assery in this fallen world.

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:52 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


To use giving up a car as an example, no one thinks that EVERYONE has a car and there's no alternative.

Whenever I go camping/traveling I pack a lot lighter knowing that someone else will invariably bring a tube of toothpaste with them. Even if they are strangers people are very sympathetic to the "oh no, I left my tube at home" bit.
posted by furtive at 9:25 PM on December 20, 2009


- Chapstick/lip balm (especially for women)
- Entertainment that you pay for and that is available as a public service (books or dvds)
- Disposable things like sandwich baggies and garbage bags
- Eating only food that hasn't reached its expiration date, eating food that hasn't been touched or unwrapped or interacted with (the answer: dumpster diving)
posted by ramenopres at 9:41 PM on December 20, 2009


I've heard that whether or not you really need deodorant depends on your diet - especially your consumption of dairy foods.
posted by moorooka at 10:27 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


but the whole "8 glasses a day thing" is mythology. If you're not thirsty, you don't need to drink that much.

Being thirsty is your body's way of saying it's already dehydrated. Stay ahead of that game, consciously denying yourself of water is silly. BUT if it's yellow, let it mellow, etc.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 10:31 PM on December 20, 2009


My perspective is this: I'm amazed that one could go without soap. and I was once a Costco Card carrying douchbag loading up $300 worth of merch to my awesome Grand Am. Fast forward 5 years and I found myself living in a non-expat (i.e. not Discovery Bay or the like) 40 year old 30 story skyscraper in Hong Kong, and I can report that life is quite fine without:

1. Carpet
2. A Microwave (provided you have a source of fresh meat + veg that's convenient)
3. Hot Water (The shower was hot, though -- the kitchen sink was not. I never knew this was possible, to be honest.)
4. Dryer (Clothes were hung out the window. That was fun because you really don't want them to fall off the hanger or you'll lose them 20 stories down!)
5. Oven

I've even ventured to mainland China and I've seen HOW to live without a fridge, but that was pushing it for me.
posted by sleslie at 10:47 PM on December 20, 2009


Matching your socks.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:49 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm all for questioning things, but seriously, as someone who has had to work at the desk next to someone who you could smell from 5 feet away, can we please keep soap out of this discussion?

(Obligatory "why soap is important" links #1 and #2)
posted by cali59 at 11:53 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I don't wear deodorant, wash my hair, or run in shoes. What else can I stop doing?"

Having sex. Many of the items listed above will help in that regard. Not that I recommend it.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:13 AM on December 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


- Plastic bags (take cloth bags to the shops).
- Christmas gift-giving/receiving (thanks, but I don't want more stuff.)
- Working 9-5 (this might be difficult in some industries. Thankfully, not in mine)
- Shopping as a leisure activity (seriously, it's not fun!)
- Keeping up with the Jones's
- Actually buying newspapers/magazines
- Professional haircuts (let it grow, or shave it yourself)
- Vitamin supplements

I would never give up my bed though!
posted by jonesor at 2:19 AM on December 21, 2009


You can give up replacing old couches in favor of large cushions. Flexible floorspace!

I honestly don't understand how people can stand the smell of deodorant. And I like chemical smells!
posted by HFSH at 2:32 AM on December 21, 2009


I have an acne problem and my doctor told me to stop using facewash, exfoliators, toners etc full stop. I tried it and haven't looked back since.
posted by Chrysalis at 2:52 AM on December 21, 2009


Juicy Avenger wrote "Being thirsty is your body's way of saying it's already dehydrated."

Yes. Just like being hungry means your body is already starving.

We aren't cars, where the warning lights only come on when there is a major problem. Your internal homeostasis mechanisms are more fine-tuned than "OK/in dire need of something". If you are thirsty, you should have a drink. But that doesn't mean drinking NOW is an imperative. Why people think this is beyond me.

Get a reusable water bottle. Fill it when you can, and drink from it when you are thirsty. You're good. You don't need to have a specific amount of water a day, you don't have to keep track of how much you drink, and you sure as hell don't need to pay for water in a plastic bottle from a vending machine. (Air travel? Take an empty bottle with you, and refill it at the drinking fountain once you clear security.)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:25 AM on December 21, 2009


I don't have anything specific to add, but perhaps just a thought process:
Think of how people lived x number of years ago. They did without y (product/process) and lived happily.

If you think of things from this perspective, it opens your eyes to what you really need. Most things that people now consider "essential" are simply conveniences: They do things faster, or more consistently, or sometimes better. But few are truly necessary.

So, consider anything you use or do on a day to day basis, and then place yourself in a different time period (100+ years ago). Would you need that to live a satisfying life?

Side note: You may be surprised to learn that many so-called conveniences that we've come to rely on really save us no time or energy in the grand scheme, and in fact lead to a sickening cycle of hyperconvenience from which it is very difficult to break free. Society has "developed" thus:
As the background pace of life in the kitchen has accelerated, other food products have gone from being time-savers to time-wasters: instant powdered lemonade was originally faster than squeezing lemons; now it is slower than opening bottles. Making cake frosting from a mix is faster than making it from scratch but slower than spooning it from a tin. Pancake and waffle mix saved only the time it took to add sugar and baking soda to flour, but that was enough-unless you prefer the further time-saving of frozen waffles and pancakes. Time-saving trajectories appear in the evolution of countless foods. Homemade frosting to frosting mixes to canned frosting. Gelatin-based desserts to Jell-O to premade Jell-O in jars. Packaged, frozen breakfast sausages to packaged, frozen, precooked breakfast sausages. With rising standards of living, the subtle tradeoffs of money and time have shifted in the direction of saving time. It is less expensive to ship premade soup in condensed form; but more and more consumers spare themselves the seconds it takes to add water or milk. Bouillon cubes came into the world as a leap forward in time-saving. Now, who can spare time to unwrap the foil and heat the water? For that matter, heating water, a process subject to constraints of physical law, has come to seem annoyingly slow. Hence the spread of Instant Hot and Quick & Hot faucets.

-- James Gleick, Faster
Being cognizant of the shocking degree of importance that society at large has placed on convience, comfort and gratification is critical if you want to live a simpler, and likley happier and healthier life. On that note, Faster is recommended reading.
posted by sprocket87 at 7:52 AM on December 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


Buying almost anything new.

clothes
books
furniture
kitchen gardgets
appliances
toys

Resale shops, vintage, consignment, used book stores, bartering (a la freesale), actively trading with friends, etc.

Oh, and books (can't wait to get a Kindle). Oh, and alcohol.

I would like to mention that giving up one's computer as mentioned up thread is an extrodinary idea - but internet access allows one to give up so many other things (such as paper books, cds, magazines, television, etc).
posted by marimeko at 7:54 AM on December 21, 2009


I find my Vibram Fivefingers are a great thing if you like barefooting. They extend the range of places you can go "barefoot" acceptably and healthily.

Give up trying to make your point in an online argument. (ahem.) Life's too damn short to waste time showing everyone you're "right."

FWIW, I agree with Lewis Black on water. I try to drink more water, not as a regimen, but as a replacement for other more expensive, less healthy stuff I would otherwise drink (namely diet soda.)

Also recomend the 100 year diet -- don't eat anything that wasn't recognized as food over a hundred years ago.
posted by cross_impact at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


-Talking (not forever or all the time, but just try not to speak for a full day, for example.)

I stopped for two weeks. This is a good one because I was constantly surprised at how little difference it made.

Try using just one plate, one bowl, one glass for food and drink.

I did this when i lived alone. I miss it.

One I though of that I do: For cookware I have a small cast-iron pan, a big one, and a pot with a steaming... thing. I have yet to run into something I can't cook with these supplies.

I'm making an effort this time to best-answer things. Usually if I try, I burn out because it's hard and starts to seem arbitrary. I'll mark things that I might not have in another comment, or things that have one or two qualifiers in a list including non-qualifiers. Anyway, I'm trying to mark things that specifically mention things that don't really make a difference if you have/do them or not. I really like some other suggestions, but, like shaving, what's mentioned has a function, even if it's not essential, so if you want whatever it does, you have to do/have it.
posted by cmoj at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2009


Hmm... Using table salt and sugar. If you eat a balanced diet, you wouldn't need to use them.
posted by kuju at 12:02 PM on December 21, 2009


saran wrap [I wrap cheese in supermarket bags (...)]


Regular supermarket bags/carrying bags are not intended for food contact. Quite often they are made from partially recycled plastic. For restaurants, it would be a health code violation to pack food in supermarket bags. Random example: "Observed a nonfood-grade supermarket bags used to store ready to eat food inside."

Instead of saran wrap, use a food grade plastic box with a lid.
posted by iviken at 3:04 PM on December 21, 2009


Several have mentioned the microwave. I'd just point out that it's actually quite a bit more efficient than an electric stove for a lot of cooking tasks. Here's a slate article on the issue.
posted by condour75 at 4:19 PM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not necessarily a dirty hippie, but I am a tightwad.

-In your kitchen, all you really need is a big cast iron pan, a saucepan, and a soup pot. For utensils: a wooden spoon, a microplane, and a metal spatula. A microwave is unnecessary, as is a dishwasher. Reuse all glass jars (peanut butter, pasta sauce) for food storage.

- No paper products besides tp. No paper towels, kleenex, etc. Use vinegar to clean the bathroom. No need to wash your body, but I do like shampoo and conditioner. Don't flush the toilet unless you poo.

- Mininal gadgetry/electric stuff. Use a moka pot or a french press to make your coffee. Wash out your underwear and socks in the sink and hang them up to dry (other clothes don't need washing until they've been used a lot). No TV.

-Buy and eat locally. Soap from a local soapmaker, milk from a local farmer, cookies and treats from a local bakery.

-I also try to avoid buying plastic. Opt for metal or glass when possible.

-Get multiple uses out of a single item. Olive oil or coconut oil as a body moisturizer/lube. Vinegar as a cleaning solution. Baking soda to brush your teeth.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:56 PM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


[a few comments removed - if you want to have a sidebar about eight glasses of water, please go to metatalk, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:07 PM on December 21, 2009


Butter/Margarine on bread. Just use whatever spread/filling you like - you don't need to smear fat on bread before eating it.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:20 PM on December 21, 2009


Get rid of your flushable toilet in exchange for a composting toilet. My BF and I actually do this manually (we go in a bucket, use sawdust to cover, and compost all our waste outside), but you can actually buy a commercial composting toilet and it saves you the trip outside to the compost pile. It's really really amazing, and I can't believe that I don't miss using a regular toilet at all.
posted by Rocket26 at 6:02 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lip balm. Using it means you need more lip balm. Unless you're outside in harsh conditions you're unused to - vacationing in a desert - just drink enough water and your lips should be fine.

For the hippie front, "use locally produced stuff" and "compost your organic trash" are pretty high on the list, as is "eat less meat".

I used to use one bowl and one cup, and rinse them out after I eat; it cuts down remarkably on the number of dishes.
posted by talldean at 9:17 PM on December 23, 2009


Thirst working the same way as hunger is a false premise. In fact when severly dehydrated (due to over exertion or disease), the brain doesn't recognize visceral thirst and thus people end up hospitalized for it. Not being a water-nazi, just saying that OP may help reduce reliance on other external things (chap stick, moisturizers, etc) just by paying attention to internal hydration.

This is an informative, simple read from which I extracted: "Thirst is a reliable signal that we need to drink a pint to a quart (depending on our size) right now and to increase our rate of fluid intake. Thirst is analogous to shivering: shivering is a sign that we are already hypothermic; to repeat: Thirst is a sign that we are already dehydrated. You can trust it: thirst reliably tells you that you have become dehydrated, that you've missed your goal of staying hydrated."
posted by Juicy Avenger at 1:21 AM on December 24, 2009


Spotted on BoingBoing: Free the Animal.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:42 PM on December 31, 2009


Decline unsolicited mail. I placed a small sticker in my mail slot requesting not to receive unsolicited mail, and my incoming mail was immediately reduced by about 90%. This made me feel far less guilty about the environmental impact of junk mail going from my mailbox directly into the recycle bin, and as a bonus I'm less tempted by the week's flyers to go out and shop (so in theory I should be saving money... in theory... sigh...).
posted by Cody's Keeper at 5:00 PM on January 3, 2010


Anything but fire
posted by jasondigitized at 5:46 AM on January 14, 2010


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