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The Subcultures of Sustainable Living

For some people, using reusable bottles and bags are not enough. There are those who are so committed to reducing their carbon footprint that they live in such a way that many consider to be extreme. While you may never choose to adapt to any one of them fully, hopefully some of these ultra-sustainable lifestyles will inspire you to incorporate some of their practices into your own life.

Here’s a quick run-down on the subcultures of sustainable lifestyles.

Minimalism is probably the oldest subculture of sustainable living and the Japanese are known to be naturally inclined to it. This may be a result of the widespread influence of Zen Buddhism plus the average size of most apartments in the country.

Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nickodemus, founders of the popular blog, The Minimalists, define Minimalism as “a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.” Their philosophy is that “a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.” Simply put, less is more.

Click the photo below to see a beautiful photo essay on Japan’s minimalists. And check out the #1 New York Times best-selling book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’ by Marie Kondo who is one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ in 2015.

Sustainable Japanese minimalists

4 March 2016. Tokyo, Japan. Reuters/Thomas Peter

Dumpster Diving
Dumpster diving, also called totting (the UK), binning (Canada), or skip dipping (Australia), is the practice of going through the wastes of major supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries, residential areas, offices, etc. in search of edible or usable items. Although dumpster divers used to be people who did it because they needed to, these days, even those who can afford three meals a day and have roofs over their heads do it as an act of environmentalism or protest against excessive consumerism.

Dumpster diving has gained so much popularity that there are documentaries  and TV shows about it. There’s also a wealth of information online on how and where to dumpster dive, as well as meet-ups with fellow divers.

Sustainable dumpster diver kitsie

The author with her dumpster dived, French artisanal bread. Melbourne, Australia. 2011.

Freeganism is a close relative of dumpster diving, but is taken to another level. Initiators of this movement, such as Food Not Bombs, are strongly anti-capitalist, whose practices are sometimes described as forms of anarchism. Freegans are almost always vegans or vegetarians, hence the name.

Sustainable foodnotbombs flyer

Food Not Bombs Flyer

The Freegan Philosophy:

‘Freegans practice strategies for everyday living based on sharing resources, minimizing the detrimental impact of our consumption, and reducing and recovering waste and independence from the profit-driven economy. […] Freegans believe in living ethical, free, and happy lives centered around community and the notion that a healthy society must function on interdependence’.(click here for the full text)

sustainable freegansim-illus-2

Illustration from Buzz Magazine

Browse through the links below for more on the subcultures of sustainable living: