Free from Power Day- a monthly holiday in celebration of simplicity, 65°

Free from Power Day - a monthly holiday in celebration of simplicity

This is an opportunity to express your willingness to consume less power in the form of electricity, fossil fuels, and products reliant upon them. It is also, a declaration of independence from the power of consumerism and media.

With a simpler life comes time to spend with loved ones, to exercise, to meditate, to work in the garden, to observe the rhythms of nature. With diligence you will discover how preferable is a life uncluttered by the superfluous trappings of the cult of consumerism.

By making this a monthly commitment you are more likely to adopt some level of these changes in everyday life than if it was less frequent, it stands to reason that adopting this action once a week, should you so choose, would be even more effective.

Thus on the first Saturday of every month:
1. Freedom from the power grid for entire day. Zero personal use of electricity delivered via the national grid.
2. Freedom from the fossil fuel use grid. Zero personal use of fossil fuels, no cars, buses, planes or trains fueled by fossil fuels. No cooking using fossil fuels or refridgerated food. No bathing or showering unless from rainwater heated renewably.
3. Freedom from Consumerism and media. No shopping, banking, television, radio, mp3, cell phone, land line phone, computer, or printed media usage.

This action developed out of a group discussion on the celsias thread started by John P. called “Can our economy grow forever?”. Everyone who commented on that thread has contributed to it’s development.

40 comments about this action

My hat's off to you sir.

in August 2008

Don't let your head get cold on the day, you might have to turn on the boiler! Keep your hat on.
What are your plans for the day?
Cheers

in August 2008

This is what my people call Shabbat! I can sign on with one exception, I don't think I can miss spending some money at the Saturday farmer's market!

in August 2008

I only wish there was a Saturday farmers market where I live!
My plan is spend the day walking, eating food from my garden, foraging for nettles and berries. My dilemma is my cup of tea. Do I use my backpackers solid fuel stove or must I use a small open fire, or maybe I should make it the night before and drink it cold?

in August 2008

Leslie I've been thinking about what you said about Shabbat. In a way this action is a return to the traditional value of taking a days rest every week, time for worship, contemplation, simplicity and focus on core values. I think it is important to emphasize that most major religions on earth call for this. Perhaps it is time to re-examine the motivations behind it and remind people that 24/7 consumerism is not a cultural trait recommended for a more centered and spiritual life.

in September 2008

I really agree with that. While I am not a believer in religion, I find that there is a lot to be said for ritual. A person can give it meaning that is relevant to their own life, rather than the one prescribed to it.

So how did it go, guys?

in September 2008

It went pretty well. There were a couple of oops moments when my instincts took over but for the most part I'm encouraged and have begun to plan October's Free From Power Day.

Results:
• For 24 hours I used no grid electricity, aside from 5 oops moments where I turned on a light without thinking which I quickly turned back off. Lighting was provided by a windup torch on loan from my friend Graeme.
• For 24 hours I used no fossil fuels of any kind; not to cook, heat, or drive.
• For 24 hours I turned on no taps for water aside from one oops moment when brushing my teeth. Toilet was flushed with rainwater. Hands were washed with rainwater. More about water below.
• For 24 hours I connected to no electronic media aside from listening to some classical music on a windup/solar radio. This was a big one for me as I usually spend alot of time on the computer, listening to mp3 player and even a few hours watching TV every day.
• For 24 hours I bought nothing, this was easy as I don't usually buy anything anyway.

Challenges:
Water - I collect rainwater for my garden and I was happy to use that to wash with but for drinking I did not prepare a purification method. Thus I drew water from the taps the night before for drinking. I made a flask of tea with the kettle and super insulated it overnight. This was my biggest failing as it meant I still consumed tap water and had used fossil fuel to make tea, just not on the day.

Food - For most of the day I did well. I ate English organic apples, though they had been purchased from a supermarket the week before, something I will try to remedy for next time. I foraged for berries and raw nettles on a 7 mile walk. I ate runner beans and tomatoes from my garden. My biggest failing was the bag of tortilla chips and salsa I ate in the evening. I did manage to never open the fridge during the day however.

Plans:
I am going to devise a method for purifying rainwater and cooking via a biomass cooker, probably something like a Vita Stove.
http://www.aprovecho.org/web-content/media/vita/vita.html
It will have to be small and very smoke free for use in this urban jungle I live in. I will collect and dry fuel in advance.

I will source local organic non-corporate unpackaged food in advance. There is a farm within a 3 mile walk of my house to source free range eggs, I will try to gather/forage more in advance, I will locate a green grocer selling local veg.

If weather permits I will set out my portable solar hot water heater for washing.

What I did:
As mentioned I walked and foraged, I worked in the garden, I played scrabble with Jacqui, I finished reading Michael Pollan's "An Omnivore's Dilemma" and started his "In Defense of Food", I organized my thesis paperwork, I tidied our room, sorted out our gear closet and designated stuff to go to recycling and freecycle, I avoided the TV room.

I also spent some time thinking about this Free From Power Day. Traditionally most western cultures have practiced this sort of thing to some degree and called it the sabbath, thanks for that Leslie. I think we need to look at this practice and encourage people to take it up again. Imagine if every business closed; no-one would need to drive to shop or to work, no sporting events planned would mean people could spend time exercising instead of watching people exercise, time for cooking wholesome meals from quality ingredients, time for growing quality ingredients, time for spending with loved ones, time for studying, time for worship, time to slow down, to relax. Isn't that what a day of rest is all about?

in September 2008

Apologies for not responding to this thread sooner.

I spent they day quite simply and was all the better for it. I had a cold organic breakfast. Really missed the tea. What is it about the Irish and English and our cuppas?

So I cycled to the beach. I took a run and then spent a few hours reading. I had made sandwiches from locally bought organic produce so that was my lunch.

After cycling home I spent the rest of the day tidying up the garden.

I really fell down on the water though. I drank bottled water for the day. The toilet was also a large consumer of water.

It's interesting Leslie mentioned the sabbath. I've always thought there was a lot of wisdom in that tradition. Makes me wonder if the ancients weren't onto something.

Funny that a lot of ancient cultures also deified nature.

in September 2008

That sounds great John,
Any plans for overcoming the water issue? I'd be interested to hear what you come up with.
I collected fuel today for boiling water but have yet to find what I need to make a vita stove so water/tea is still my biggest challenge. I did determine that the corn tortilla crisps I ate last week are non GM, grown and made in England but that still doesn't excuse the packaging.
As to the Sabbath, I find that re-gaining time to spend in contemplation and meditation deepens my sense of the infinite which naturally leads to thoughts of a spiritual nature. I'm Buddhist so I don't believe in a creator but I do cherish a feeling off oneness with the natural world, maybe that makes me a paganish, Jainist sort of Buddhist.

in September 2008

"Any plans for overcoming the water issue?"

Well we've had plenty of rain fall this summer. Water is a huge issue in Ireland. Just ten years ago there were still functional manual spring pumps on the route I took. No longer though. Now, it's advisable not to drink domestically supplied water here.

Has anyone done any research into harvesting rain water for consumption? What types of filtering needs to be done?

in September 2008

I've lived off rainwater for years in Bermuda, no other choice there except for expensive and energy intensive reverse osmosis. Simple sand filtering is good enough for most particulate matter but you will need some sort of treatment for the beasties, UV, chemical or reverse osmosis. I plan to boil my rainwater after some simple filtering through a cloth. It's generally accepted that 5 minutes of boiling will take care of pretty much everything. If you have a backpacking filter that should work as well.

in September 2008

I'm thinking of setting up a blog/website dedicated to this action. I'm hoping to get some momentum for it through discussions about the very things we've been talking about. Take it to a wider audience. What do you folks think?

in September 2008

I collected a cooking oil can from in back of a curry restaurant yesterday as well as some more fuel from the park, sticks. Today I'll start on my rocket stove for boiling rainwater and general cooking.

in September 2008

A rocket stove?

How exactly does that work? What about toxins the rainwater picks up from the air on the way down? Is there a good way of removing those? Presumably heating some of these water soluble compounds could worsen them?

in September 2008

There are lots of versions but here is a link to a video that explains the basics:

http://www.aprovecho.org/web-content/media/rocket/rocketlow.htm

I won't worry about the toxins picked up in rainwater in this instance as I won't be consuming that much of it. If I was living off it I would be very careful about water quality, though I have a hunch that contaminants from what the rain falls on and runs off of would be more significant than what it pick up on the way down, unless you live in Beijing or someplace equally nasty like down wind from an incinerator.

in September 2008

Hi guys, you are both an inspiration! As far as the idea of shops being closed one day a week, I lived in Boston when there were still Blue Laws on Sunday and Jerusalem when there were still Kosher laws on Saturday. I spent a lot of time walking, hanging out with friends and watching sports. But I must admit, we also took that long drive to the New Hampshire border on the occassional Sunday for an open liquor store!

As far as the water issue goes, my friend's son just got back from 40 days at Wilderness camp where they drank only pond water treated with iodine, I believe. I will ask him about it.

in September 2008

Iodine works well but tastes a bit off, probably marginally better for you than chlorine.

in September 2008

Iodine? That reminds me of Mister Roberts. You know the movie where William Powell and Jack Lemon are trying to make a bottle of scotch from rubbing alcohol and iodine.

Have you guys ever heard of solar sterilization? Apparently you take a clear plastic bottle and sit it on a tin roof.

My next problem is going to be collecting rain water. We like to have our Summer in the Autumn here in Ireland, so there's not a lot of rain.

Well, we don't really do it on purpose. It just seems to happen that way these days. We get our Spring in the Summer and our Autumn in the Spring. Did I miss one? Oh yea Winter. We don't bother with that anymore, we just have a rainy season for six months instead.

in September 2008

We didn't have a summer here in Sheffield either. We've just had the first week of dry weather I can remember for weeks. Water butt #1 is empty and I'm using #2. Hopefully we'll have some rain before October as I'd really like fresh rain water.

UV, or solar sterilization, is supposed to be good, I've never tested it myself. I've heard you can usually feel safe about drinking the top few inches of water in a wild lake if harvested from out near the middle. A jar should work but keep in mind that it is also a perfect growth medium for algae. I think I'd go for glass though as most plastics degrade in UV and what that would add to the water.......?

I've done the hard bits on my stove, all the sheet metal work, I still have to be careful not to cut my self on the edges, and the setting in of the fire chamber, an olive oil can, into the much larger vegetable oil can. I used a bag of mortar mix I found in the cellar, left over from the previous tenants. So far I've not purchased anything for it. Now I need to fill it with dirt, sand, stones, whatever to hold in some heat. After that I can fire it up!

My friend up the street who is joining me this time around, 1st sat in October, helped with this one and we will build iteration #2 in a few weeks.

Food will be more of a challenge this time as the blackberries are almost done. Nettles should still be around, I've saved some apples I harvested, and I will walk up to the farm up the valley to get some eggs the day before.

in September 2008

Eggs eh! Dribble. Excuse me.

I was just thinking about the sharp edges. How about folding some of the metal cut-offs around those edges.

I'm afraid I'm not as industrious as you so far. I'm gonna have to stick with cold food from the organic shelf at Holland and Barrett for the time being, but with winter coming in a stove sounds better and better. A nice free-range egg for breakfast would go down really well.

I remember hearing that air is a great insulator so would the stones you mentioned be better cladding than sand, for example?

in September 2008

Yes, lightweight volcanic stone would be better because of the air content and I am on the lookout for some perlite. Unless I find some in a skip I'll have to make do with what I can source for free.

And yes, I suspect I will do something about those edges I haven't already dealt with once I get cut a few times!

in September 2008

Nettles.

I had a great uncle who swore by nettle tea and nettles in vegetable soup. I remember C Robb W commenting about collecting nettles in the past, but how do you collect and use nettles.

As were on the subject, what other foods that grow in the wild can you recommend?

By the way, my uncle lived well into his nineties.

in September 2008

Any time I walk by some nettles I pinch off the top 2 inches or so and roll it up into a little ball and chew it up, I've even trained my 5 year old nephew to do it! If you want to cook some use gloves long sleeves and pants. Collect the top 6 to eight inches and cook as you would any other green. They really are good for you, particularly men as they stimulate testosterone production, which at my age I need as much of as I can get, just turned fifty this weekend.

I also pick yew berries, black berries, elder berries, blue berries, wild apples and pears, nasturtiums. I'm just learning about foraging so I'm a bit limited as of yet.

in September 2008

Well yeaterday I started picking black berries. Just found the bush by accident. When farming was the main pass-time in Ireland they were everywhere. Now they are very hard to find.

Happy Birthday! They say life begins at forty, so I guess you will be entering your second teens soon.

All that knowledge you've stored up has really come in useful. Thanks for all your help. Keep walking and writing.

in September 2008

Thanks John,
just a few more days to FFPD #2, we've had some rain here so will have some fresh water, haven't had a chance to test my stove yet but hope to in the next day or so, I've got one of the last cucumbers from my garden put aside and some apples from a tree up the street, I'll walk for the eggs on friday.
How's it looking on your end?

in October 2008

Funny you should mention that. I was in college the other day and I noticed a tree with what looked like small red/green berries. So I went and had a look and some had fallen off. So picked one up, washed it and had a taste.

If it wasn't the most delicious apple I had ever tasted you can paint me red and call me Shirley. So I collected some. I plan to get a few more blackberries on Friday. I ate the last ones :( sorry! I'll get some more apples tomorrow.

This foraging is really a lot of fun. When you get going. So I'd say this Sunday will be the next one. It'll be interesting because it's freezing here. How about you?

in October 2008

yep, cold and wet.
I'm glad you like foraging, I've got some photos of edible plants in my local park that I've yet to correllate to my notes. When I do I'll be able to expand my efforts. Is there a way I can post that kind of stuff here on Celsias? If not I might do a plant per post on my blog.

in October 2008

Hang on I'm just going to try something.

in October 2008

O.k That didn't work I thought I might be able to put some html straight in to the page. Maybe someone else has some ideas?

So yesterday I took my funny looking apples and my black berries and some other bits and pieces and I headed to the beach on by bike. I had my breakfast (fruit) and then read for a while.

Then I got on my bike and went to a local forest. Actually it's miles away. That water thing worked pretty well. Glass bottle,rainwater and stick it on the garden shed on a sunny day.

Took a walk around the park, saw some mushrooms but I left them alone as I'm useless with mushroom varieties and didn't want to chance it.

Then I took a walk along the banks of the Boyne. It was absolutely lovely, very sunny and relaxing. Glad I didn't choose today, it's bloomin freezing.

Had lunch beside the river. Just some bread and cheese (organic) and the water I brought. Then I took a spin out to see Newgrange (building older than the pyramids in Co. Meath)

So I got home around five. Spent a couple of hours in the back garden with the dogs. As it got dark I started to have a bit of a problem. I'm one of those people that's really not happy if there is work to be done. So I took out a bit of college work and did it by candle light. The candle was one I got years ago from a local monastery, real bees wax.

I was bushed by about ten and had no trouble sleeping. Bit sore today but well worth it.

in October 2008

Sounds like a great day John,
My wife came back from her walk with some wild shrooms she has been assured are safe to eat but I decided not to eat them on the day as I want to research them first, maybe tonight. Here is how my day went.

Planning pays off! In the month between the first FFPD and yesterday I built a rocket/vita stove, gathered and dried fuel for it (see below), planned out my menu and gathered my food. Fortunately we had rain so I had some nice fresh water as well though I had a large reserve if needed.

The stove worked a treat! It's a good thing because I never got time to test it. I boiled about 4 liters of water for my use for the day , most of which went to flasks for tea, it was a cold rainy, windy day after all. I boiled another couple of liters to cook eggs and sweet corn. I used a bundle of sticks and scrap wood about 8" in diameter and 12 to 14" long for all of that. I lit it once and did all my cooking for the day. Relighting would be significantly less efficient.

In addition to the eggs (sourced from a local farm a 3 mile walk away) and corn (from our organic box delivery), I ate about 4 ounces of organic muesli with organic rice milk (the two most heavily packaged and shipped foods of the day) and locally picked blackberries, one cucumber and 8 ounces of tomatoes from our organic garden, 4 ounces of tortilla chips (unfortunately non organic and packaged), about 6 small apples from a tree up the street, and finally some apple juice pressed from local apples at the local sustainable wood fair I took my nephew to. More planning is necessary for food requirements.

I did well on most other fronts, no electronic media, instead I read half of Rob Hopkins "The Transition Handbook". This is an excellent read for anybody wishing to assist their community in getting prepared for a post oil economy as it lays out the proven techniques used by many transition initiatives around the world.

I managed to avoid using any lights (except when I went into the cellar, same as last time, I need to plan for this better), I never turned on any heat and stayed either outside or in our solar heated conservatory all day, I used rainwater to wash and flush with, boiled for brushing teeth, I drank boiled rainwater, I borrowed my friend Graemes wind up torch for reading at night (I must get one before the next FFPD).

So all in all a good day but more to be done for next time.

How did you do Jayne?

in October 2008

We tried the mushrooms,
First I found them online to verify that they are edible, seems they are bracket mushrooms from a silver Birch tree. They are more medicinal than edible, a fact well proven when we saute'd them with a little garlic, onion and butter. Bitter ! INedible! I've saved them for my next FFPD as they apparently make great tinder when dried.

in October 2008

I've posted about my stove with pictures on my blog if you are interested.

http://sustliving.blogspot.com/

in October 2008

You are all amazing! I really want to do this the next round!

in October 2008

Go for it Leslie, it is well worth the effort and even after all these years of various efforts towards sustainability I'm finding this effort educational and useful.

in October 2008

Tomorrow is the next FFPD. This one is going to be the biggest challenge yet. We have moved and will be going back to Sheffield to start emptying out our house. We've got stuff on Ebay that ends tomorrow so I will definitely be using my computer (unless I can get my wife to handle that), I won't have purchased or foraged food ahead of time so I'm not sure how I'll do on that front. I do have some fuel for my stove and so will use that for my tea and hopefully some food. I'll let you know how I do.

in November 2008

Sounds good Robb mine will be tomorrow. Sunday. Let you know how it goes.

in November 2008

Sorry to say this FFPD has been a total failure on my part, moving house, living in two places at once, and excessive busy-ness are the excuses I claim. All of which are characteristics of the modern hurry up consumerist lifestyle I had hoped FFPD would help me overcome. Can't win em all, I will attempt to do one next weekend.

in November 2008

I wouldn't use the word failure Robb. You've got a bunch of other people doing FFPD also.

Anyway, I was watching River Cottage Autumn during the week and he had a bunch of nettle dishes. No I didn't have any nettles yesterday, but I did pick a few while I was out with the dogs.

I started the day with eggs from my father in law and home made bread from my mother in law. All organic. Lunch was just some of the bread with some organic cheese I bought. Woops! Water was sterilized rain water using an old glass bottle on the roof of my shed.

How did I cook the eggs you ask. Well I had an old BBQ in the shed so I got some sticks and dry leaves from the garden and tried to boil some water. Flames were to weak, so I put the eggs directly on the flames and turned them rapidly. They went completely black, but once I took the shells off they were fine.

Took the dogs walking and collected some nettles in the morning. Had a small lunch when I got back and tipped around the garden for the rest of the afternoon.

Ran out of candles and forgot to get more so I cheated. I lay on my bed and read using the street light. Do you remember that episode of "One Foot in the Grave" I don't believe it.

To be honest I'm really starting to enjoy the peace and quiet. No T.V. It's really nice.

Oh yea. I've just cooked the nettles with chilly and carrots in a soup. Delicious! Smelled like cabbage and tasted like spinach.

in November 2008

That sounds like a great day John, well done.I especially like the trick with the eggs. By the way, with the house sale and moving hither and yon, my rocket stove will be up for grabs. If any of you folks are around Sheffield let me know at, crobbw@gmail.com
and you can have it. I'd love it if it went to someone willing to put it to a good use, like FFPD.

in November 2008

Took yesterday as free from power day for December as I won't get any time to actually do it in December. Isn't that a stupid statement as the whole purpose of the day is to chill and remove myself from the rat race. Anyway can't be avoided.

Did the same tricks again for water and food. This time I was joined by Maggs and the two dogs for the outing part of the day. Went around Co. Meath along the river Boyne.

I cheated this time and took some snaps. Not very good ones mind you but they're up on facebook.

in December 2008

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