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Homesteading Lifestyle

Six benefits of homesteading

Hard work and a variety of skills are needed to thrive as a homesteader

Izabela H identifies some of the main features of homestead life

Recently Steve explained how he is ready to move into a new way of life. Below we will cover the basics you should know about homesteading. I mean, wouldn’t self-sufficiency be an amazing thing to implement in your life? 

What about preparing and preserving food on your own, with no preservatives?

We will explore these and more in just a moment.

#1 Preserving food on a homestead

Many people underestimate how beneficial and easy food preservation actually is. There are so many reasons why it is indeed such a fantastic thing to do that it is hard to count them all. Here is just a small list of them:

1. Saving money. It is really easy to save up when you either grow your own fruit and veggies or bulk buy from the store. That way, you get a low price and plenty of in-season fruit and vegetables to enjoy!

2. Enjoying seasonal fruit/vegetables. If you crave a strawberry parfait in the middle of winter, you are not going to get any good strawberries, as they are out of season. However, if you preserve the produce in summer, you can enjoy it all year round without any issues!

3. Healthier for you and the family. Through preserving the food yourself, you are aware of anything and everything that is in it – no hidden flavourings, colourants, or preservatives. It is much healthier to eat that way and you will feel better in no time, thanks to the decrease of foreign chemicals in the food.

4. Prolonging the shelf-life. Yes, canned food from the store can last ages sometimes, but that is mostly thanks to artificial preservatives. Home-made pickles, jams, etc. can last much longer than you think! It is a very efficient way of storing food for later use while making sure it is still as healthy as possible.

5. Minimising waste. Food preservation is not only great for your bank and seasonal cravings, but also for the environment. Reusing is always above recycling, so give those old jars, bottles, and glassware a new purpose!

Preserving food in tin cans and jars

#2 Raising Livestock on a homestead

Raising livestock does not have to be exclusive to farmers and breeders. Of course, if you want to keep cattle or larger animals, they will require a large plot of land to accommodate their needs. However, what about the other kinds of livestock?

Chickens are very popular to keep, as they do not require as much space as one might think. All you need is a coop and an enclosed run and you are ready to go! The space required is, of course, dependent on how many chickens you want to keep.

Chickens are surprisingly cosmopolitan when it comes to food and are known to enjoy a wide range of tasty treats! However, it’s super important to do your research before you get your girls as there are some foods that they definitely should not have! 

Chicken Guard

Chickens are fantastic, as they lay eggs every day (or every other day), so you will not need to worry about buying eggs ever again! They can also be kept for meat, which guarantees top-quality meat for you and your family.

Rabbits are another popular option, as rabbit meat is very healthy and has very little fat. There is a wide variety of breeds you can keep, but the most recommended is the New Zealand White rabbits, as they are very calm and grow to a decent size (9-12lb). The furs can also be used in many different manners, if tanned correctly, making rabbits a good choice for crafty people too.

There are many other animals, but chickens and rabbits are the most common amongst people with smaller gardens and not much time to sacrifice on animal upkeep. You have to be aware of proper ways of slaughtering your animals if you choose to keep them for meat, of course.

Chickens on a homestead
Various breeds of chickens are often found on a homestead

#3 Gardening around the homestead

Gardening can not only be therapeutic and relaxing but also very beneficial for you and your family. Gardening does not only involve planting and caring for stunning flowers – you can prepare your garden to accommodate herbs, vegetables, and even fruit. Here is why:

1. Exercise. Gardening provides plenty of outdoor exercise, which is a fantastic way to do something productive and stay in shape. Whether it is more movement or an increased dose of vitamin D, you will feel much better after a nice gardening session!

2. Top-quality produce. The food you grow will be much healthier and more delicious, due to the lack of harsh chemicals used on mass-grown produce. Thanks to that, you will have nutritious and fresh herbs, fruit, and veggies that you can eat in-season or preserve for later use!

3. Smaller shopping receipts. There is no denying that growing your own food is going to drastically reduce the cost of your shopping and make your receipts much shorter. Yes, gardening requires work, but it pays you back with the sense of accomplishment, saving in the long-run, and delicious food!

4. Less waste, more food preservation. As mentioned above, whatever leftovers you have from your harvest, you can preserve for later! We also covered this topic in previous blog posts when discussing the freegan community.

5. Better for the environment. Transporting produce around the country (and the world in general) produces a lot of toxic waste and pollution. By lessening your contribution to that, you will positively impact the environment and get delicious food!

Gardening on a homestead
Growing plants, fruits and vegetables

#4 Life without electric: Off-Grid Living

Living off-grid means having your own power source, water source, etc. Basically, it is living without the need to pay your bills. Sounds impossible, right? The good news is: it is entirely possible!

However, you need to be prepared to face the challenges that will come with the start of your independent life. For example, how will you deal with sewage and waste?

The first thing to tackle is power.

Solar panels are most commonly used, as they can be simply installed on your house or property. Between 2,000 – 3,000w is needed to power a standard house with a 2-4 person family. The other options include wind and water turbines.

Those two are dependent on the location of your property, as water turbines are best in bodies of flowing water, while wind turbines are not only quite big but also generate noise and can be dangerous to some wildlife (not mentioning the large upfront cost). The more “old-fashioned” thing you can use is a generator.

Those are relatively cheap to run, depending on what you use to power it (petrol being the cheapest option). Unfortunately, they produce a lot of pollution and noise, which renders them the least favourable option.

The best way to save on your power usage is to purchase efficient lightbulbs, appliances, and batteries. Grade A+ appliances are the best, especially when it comes to fridges and freezers, as those use up the highest amounts of energy in our households.

The recommended lightbulbs are LEDs, with between 8-20w of power, while batteries should be rechargeable for reusability.

The second issue to tackle is water.

Living off-grid does not mean you have to find a lake in order to bathe or wait for the rain with a bar of soap, ready to shower. The easiest way of having a steady water supply is to live by a body of water, such as a lake or a river. However, this is not always possible, so there are alternatives.

Collecting rainwater is very common, but can be quite an expensive installation – costing over £10,000. This is due to the need to store water in an underground tank and to filter it, in order to make it safe for consumption. Another alternative is to have a borehole drilled.

This, however, requires a geological survey as well as a company to drill the borehole on your land for you, which adds to the initial cost.

All of the above examples may have an initial cost that will scare your wallet or bank account, but they will save you a lot of money in the long run. It is a worthy investment, as you will not have to pay bills anymore (or at least minimise them)!

Living off grid
Solar panels can be part of off grid living

#5 Cooking And baking your own food

Cooking and baking are those everyday activities we do not really pay much attention to. Oftentimes, they just have to be done and that’s the end of the story, while we go to carry on with our busy lives. However, it does not have to be a chore.

Both of those activities are very good at relaxing you and have similar effects to meditation. They are also an outlet for creativity. Alongside reducing stress and increasing your confidence, there are plenty more benefits.

Cooking your own meals as compared to buying ready/frozen meals or ordering takeaway lets you put in only the ingredients you want – no artificial substances or preservatives!

Including fresh ingredients will allow you to cook up nutritious and delicious meals while enjoying your time in the kitchen. Cooking is a great way to bond with your children too – it is a fun way to spend time and create something together.

The same goes for baking – it is very rewarding. Baking is therapeutic and lets you try out new recipes to recreate your favourites – from basic bread to fancy cakes.

Just think: how healthy would home-baked bread be? How about homemade buns and croissants for breakfast? Doesn’t that sound appealing? Besides being much healthier, you can fully customise your baked goods. Want to put some poppy seeds on the bread? No problem.

There are so many options that make both cooking and baking incredibly versatile and better than store-bought alternatives, so why not give it a go?

baking your own food
Grow, bake, eat

#6 Building With Wood

How many times have you gone to a furniture shop, looked at this lovely, wooden table and then left the shop in a hurry after seeing its price tag? We have all been there at one point or another. Fortunately, you do not have to sacrifice your dreams of a cosy, wood-filled home – try building it yourself!

You do not have to be a master craftsman in order to create something out of (seemingly) nothing. We have all had some spare wood or furniture that can be renovated. Building with wood is not only going to save you money, allow you to experiment and try stuff out but also to reduce your waste!

With practice, you will be able to create an even better-looking coffee table – and a unique one at that. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a hobby and a potential career prospect?

You will, of course, need some tools in order to be able to measure, saw, sand, and cure the wood. Therefore, the initial cost of preparing for making your own wood items may seem high, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, you can purchase a chicken coop for about 2 chickens for around £300.

However, you can purchase chicken wire, wood, and other items for either less, or purchase more to save for other projects and build it yourself. That way, you can ensure the safety of your animals and customise the structure to your needs!

Building with discarded pallets is a favourite of ours. Keep an eye out for more wooden pallet-related suggestions in future blog post entries.

building with wood
Wood is an incredible tool for homesteading

The above are some of the basic starting points on your journey to homesteading.

We thank you for reading this article because homesteading is such a beneficial and fascinating matter, especially for people who want to live self-sufficient lives.

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Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

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Homesteading Lifestyle

Is it time to live on a homestead?

Changes to worldwide circumstances are making prepping essential

By Steve W

To say it’s been a strange year would be an understatement. Goodbye 2020. Good riddance. We never want to see you again! Unfortunately, we have a slight problem. The early stages of 2021 are shaping up to be much of the same.

Unless you’ve been stationed under a very large rock for the past 12 months you’ll know that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. As masks, social distancing and financial furloughs become part of everyday life, we are truly entering an uncertain era.

Covid-19 has made for a strange 12 months

My introduction to Homesteading

Throughout the entire pandemic I’ve been working as usual in my regular job. The hours might be slightly reduced and the circumstances different but I’ve had to travel each and every day to a physical location. At the end of each shift it has been a great comfort to return home to a place that is more or less isolated.

No longer a functioning farm, our property is set off-road, barely visible from the surrounding lanes, beautifully barricaded by a fortress of trees, fields and hedges. Streams trickle gently around those fields. An enclosed glen, affectionately named “the enchanted forest” by my children, lies just a five minute walk away.

Despite living on a former farm, and adopting many of the daily practices congruent with a homestead, I’ve never actually considered myself as a homesteader. Livestock has come and gone, fruits and vegetables get planted each year, wood is chopped, winter prepping takes place every October/November. This is what I’ve always done, never thinking too hard about the labels.

The accidental homesteader

As the madness persists and a desire for self-sufficiency grows, I am starting to think it might be time to come out of the hay shed and become a part-time “homesteader”. While I previously categorised anyone diligently preparing stock and supplies as one of those types who waited for a zombie apocalypse or were creating some sort of military bunker, I now realise it could soon become a necessary activity.

The zombies are coming – and they want your toilet rolls!

Happy Preppers

Indeed, people were queuing and fighting over toilet rolls just months ago. Therefore, stocking up on beans, rice, porridge and some dried goods, as suggested by Dave from Prepping Essentials, might not be the worst idea in the world, given the current situation.

Will the shit hit the fan? Yes, quite possibly. If becoming a homesteader can help mitigate the potential impacts of a worst case scenario then I am well placed to take on such a challenge and embrace the homestead lifestyle.

I have a few decent skills, but will need to brush up a lot more if I am to retain any kind of self sufficiency. Baby steps at first, but here my journey begins.

A tractor for homesteading
Tractors can be very useful for homesteading

I am not going to be tough on myself. It takes time and years of failure and experience to get to where I need to be. While I am pretty underprepared at present -lacking in certain skillsets- I have picked up a few tips and tricks over the years.

After scribbling down my “assets” on a piece of paper I’ll end with a short list of things I have in my favour…

  • I’m not afraid of hard work.
  • I can light and sustain an indoor and outdoor fire.
  • I have moderate growing experience and plenty of space to grow food in.
  • I have a good set of tools and equipment, including a tractor at my disposal.
  • I am a decent cook, with experience in preserving, canning and baking from scratch.

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Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you think I’m bonkers?! I might be. Either way, continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Social Media: the ultimate in rat race escapism

Checking Facebook, Twitter or Instagram numbs the daily grind – but it comes at a cost

Written and researched by Monica C

Social networking sites are really popular these days. Although they have proven to be effective in connecting people and giving them a safe place to interact with each other online, social networking sites are known to result in addiction.

This has as much to do with the “programming” of these social networking sites as with the natural tendency of people to want to interact with other people. Users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other similar networks are finding it harder and harder to resist the lure of the interactions, events, and entertainment offered by these sites. 

A recent study shows that while a lot of people want to quit Facebook, not many actually succeed in doing so. In this study, participants were challenged to stop using Facebook for 90 days. Most participants were unable to get by without logging into Facebook for a few days. Unfortunately, they could not help but become active users again. 

Here are some of the negative effects that can happen when people are addicted to social media networking sites: 

  • FOMO – experts identify the problem as the “fear of missing out” (FOMO). People post and share information on Facebook and other social networking sites all the time. Conversations happen 24/7. This is what many would not want to miss out on. They think that being away from social media for several days or even just a few hours would leave them out-of-touch with the latest news or happenings. 
  • Depression – this psychosocial problem develops when people react with envy towards the posts that they see in the social networking sites. It is not unusual for people to put up “brag posts” with pictures and videos showing their latest travels, most delicious dishes from their kitchens, hip bars they visited, restaurants with the most scrumptious food, and other things that they want to show the world. Unfortunately, not everyone tends to be happy about these posts. 

Social media can make some people feel inferior. It can distort their perspective on reality as they try to keep up with the Joneses. When they cannot meet these self imposed standards, they become depressed.  

  • Source of Validation – it makes people happier when they get more likes and shares on social media. It validates that what they posted was worthy of the space on social media and the time and attention of their audience. It’s actually not their popular post but the number of likes and shares that they become happy about. 
  • The Network Effect – this refers to the idea that networks become more valuable and influential as more and more people join them. The same name was used in a web experience project created by computer scientist Jonathan Harris. The project involves exposing subjects to audio-visual materials triggered by any one or several of the 100 behaviors. 

The study reflected what happens when you surf and use social media and experience a sensory overload. Furthermore, a time limit was set to the information that was presented to them. 

The experience illustrated how the sense of urgency the networks create compels people to want to be on social media and explore their content.

The more members there are in the network, the more people want to be in it. Facebook, the most popular social network today, is one example of a site that people just cannot bear to be away from. 

I do not believe social media was originally intended to so addictive. The owners and developers wanted people to join their networks so they can connect with their family, friends, and other people who are far from their location.

As the number of social media sites increased, so did the number of people who are actively joining and participating in them and owners realized how profitable it is to keep users on their platforms all day, consuming content, clicking on ads and revealing more and more personal information about themselves which can be mined and sold on to advertisers.

Soon enough, the power of social media in terms of influencing consumer behavior was discovered. It became the usual practice for programmers, designers and marketers to craft messages and content to draw people into the network and to keep them in the network for as long as possible. This has, evidently, led to social media addiction. 

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Social Media Tricks: Notifications Numbers and Algorithms

Most social media networks trick you with the same method: notifications. You would often notice a number that’s conspicuously displayed on your notifications bar. This notifications number shows you how many people recently watched your videos, checked out your posts, liked your images, or wrote comments on your page.

A higher number, of course, draws you in and makes you curious about who visited your page, what feedback they have, and which content they specifically Liked or Shared among others. 

That number icon works much like those links used for “clickbait” strategies. In internet marketing, online businessmen would use catchy phrases that lure potential customers into clicking the link to get more information or to see more content.

It excites you enough to compel you to click the link. The same is true with the notifications numbers. You are intrigued to know more about who your visitors were and what they have to say to or about you. 

To illustrate how the notifications numbers work, take a look at these two statements:

News: “Elisha lost weight in 30 days by following a strict diet and rigid exercise.”

Clickbait Version: “You wouldn’t believe how Elisha lost weight in 30 days!”

The notification icon works like that. The number “10” you see on the notification is like a clickbait that says, “You can’t believe how many people loved your posts!” or “See what people are saying about your great vacation pictures!”

As you are constantly drawn to the notifications numbers and feel compelled to click them, your addiction to social media grows stronger. 

checking social media
Constantly refreshing the endless feed…

Tweaking Algorithms

Social media sites strategically filter their algorithms from time to time to take a closer look at user behaviour. When they tweak their algorithms, they monitor and track how their users respond to their changes.

They see which changes resulted in more engagement and which ones made the users stay in the sites longer. The goal, of course, is to do more tweaks that keep more users in the site for longer periods of time. 

While it has been established that social media was not meant to be addictive when the various networks were launched, there are indications that deliberate strategies to make social media more addictive are now being used. Fortunately, users do not have to fall prey to these strategies. 

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Algorithms are designed to keep us hooked

Self-Assessment: Acknowledge Your Addiction to Social Media 

In the previous chapter, you learned how social media can be addictive. You also found out what social media developers do to keep it that way. In the next chapter, you will find helpful tips to fight this addiction. But before you can overcome this problem, you need to acknowledge your addiction first.

I Am an Addict 

Admit that you are addicted to social media. Think of the times when people made constant remarks on how often you are seen online. Think of the times when you were unable to attend to your responsibilities because you were stuck in social networking sites.

When all these instances happen frequently, it is time to admit that you have a serious problem and that you have to do something about it. 

  • Review your previous posts. How many times did you post something online this past week or month? Write down the number of times you posted in a day, a week, and a month. This should make you see exactly how often you post online. 
  • Determine whether each post is necessary to share. For example, if you posted something about what you ate for lunch or where you had your haircut done, think about whether or not it offered any benefit to you and others on your social media network. 
  • Track the time you spend on social media. You can always say that you do not spend that much time on social media, but are you sure that’s really the case? It could be a case of denial. To give you a more accurate measure, track the time you spend online using a timer. Write it down on a notebook or sheet of paper. There are also apps that you can download to track your time use more accurately. 
  • Consider the importance of social media in your life. People use social media in different ways and for different purposes. Think about why you are on social media and what you gain out of your social media activities. Some people spend their extra time in social media because they do not have other things to do. Sometimes, people use social media to gain attention or to meet new people. Understand how you use social media. Have a clearer view of why you use it excessively or why you are addicted to it. 

When you know the causes of your addiction to social media, it will be easier for you to find ways to address the issue. Be honest in your self-assessment. Once you’re done, it is time to move forward and take a step to fight your addiction to social media. 

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Ways to Stop Your Social Media Addiction

As we discussed in the previous chapter, it is easy to fall into the trap of social media addiction but I believe that we can break habits and get our lives back. Falling into dependency on these new platforms is what the developers want. They want you clicking all day and constantly coming back.

While social media networks can help you to connect with your loved ones who are living on the other side of the globe, they can also negatively affect your personal relationships with the people who are near to you. However, it is possible that you can stop your addiction and avoid all of the negative effects. 

Try these tips to start gaining control of your social media usage:

  • Turn off your pop-up notifications. Stop your instant notifications from disturbing your daily routine. The notification beeps you hear will only remind you that something is happening online and will make you feel that you are missing out on something. Turn off your notifications to fight your FOMO. If it will help, just think that when you don’t frequently check your social media accounts, the notification number will increase. By the time you check your social media accounts again, it will become a more exciting experience as you see the increase in number.
  • Limit the time you spend online. After assessing the amount of time you spend online, you will have an idea of how much time you waste every day by mindlessly scrolling down your newsfeed. Knowing this information can help you fight back the urge to stay online. Depending on the severity of your addiction, choose a time limit that would work for you: an hour per working day and a couple of hours during the weekend could be a great way to start. 
  • Be strong enough to fight the urge to add extra time once you reach your personal time limit. This is a good test on your willpower. It might be difficult at first, but it will be rewarding in the end. 
  • Find a new hobby. If the reason for your social media addiction is boredom, then it’s time to find a new hobby. Now that you are able to limit your time online, you can use the extra time to do something else that you love. Or perhaps, there is something that you have always wanted to do but didn’t have enough time for in the past. Read a book, hike with a friend, learn a new skill or a new language, or start your own garden. When you are craving to check your social media accounts, your newfound hobby will keep you occupied and help you fight back the urge to go online.
  • Spend more time with people in real life. Instead of simply sending online messages to your friends and family, pick up the phone and call them up. Set up a date with them instead of simply connecting with them in the virtual world. By doing so, you can create more memories with them in the real world. Don’t feel the need to capture or document every moment you spend together. Just being there with them will give you more satisfaction as opposed to only seeing their faces online. 
  • Use social media like a special treat. Some people who go on a strict diet have “cheat days” when they can allow themselves to eat whatever they want. It is one day in a week when they treat themselves to a cup of ice cream or a slice of sweet pie. Some people would do something special, like go to a movie or get their nails done, as a reward after they did something productive. 
  • You can treat your social media usage in the same way. Reward yourself with extra time in social media after you have achieved a goal or after you have finished a project. This is a great act of self-discipline that could help you prioritize your responsibilities effectively without straining yourself too much. 
  • Go out to meet people in real life. Instead of browsing through strangers’ accounts or stalking celebrities online, find some ways to meet people in your neighborhood. Join local clubs or attend seminars. If you are single, set-up a singles’ night with your friends and ask them to bring a friend, too. If you are married, open your home to another family in your area and have dinner together. 
  • Making connections with people in real life will help you realize that face-to-face encounter is still more fun and exciting than just talking through instant messaging apps.
  • Delete your social media apps. Seeing the apps on the screen of your mobile phone or digital device can be tempting. They make it too easy for you to go online and glance at your social media feeds. Soon enough, you will have wasted precious minutes just mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. You can avoid this by deleting your apps. You can still log into your social media accounts the old-fashioned way through your internet browser on your desktop computer or laptop. 

It’s Time for a Social Media Break

It’s hard to do but we need to avoid getting trapped in the virtual world. Right back to when Second Life or World of Warcraft was introduced, it’s been imperative at regular intervals to get your face off the screen and enjoy the pleasures of the real world.

If your social media addiction is extreme, you can take a complete clean break from it to help clear your mind and help get rid of your addiction. Some people are even considering counselling to rid themselves of the problem.

In extreme circumstances deactivate your accounts in Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, Twitter and other networking sites. This will help you to keep yourself from subconsciously logging into your account automatically.

If you want to keep your accounts active while you’re away, change your passwords. Ask someone you trust to change the passwords for you so you cannot access your accounts even if you want to. Tell that person to give you the passwords after a week or two, or however long you think is necessary.

Keep in mind that handing over your account to someone can be dangerous if it falls on the wrong hands. Make sure to ask someone you can truly trust with this sensitive information. 

When you get back from your social media break, do the following: 

  • Delete some people from your list of friends or unfollow some people you don’t really care about. The more people you are connected with in social media, the more things will show up in your newsfeed. As a result, you will spend so much time scrolling through your newsfeed for the fear of missing out on what’s happening in other people’s lives. If possible, keep your list limited to just your family, relatives, and close friends. 
  • Prioritize the important things in your life. You do not have to be on every social network that’s accessible to you. Check out which ones are most useful and where you can connect with your family and friends more effectively. Stick to at least two sites and delete other accounts that are not beneficial to you. 
  • Don’t post everything that is happening in your life. If you find that you have been posting more than twice in a day, try to limit yourself to just posting once a day. Later on, try to post every other day until you don’t feel the need to post something every single day at all. 

Many studies prove how addiction to social media has greatly affected relationships among families and friends. The good news is that you can do something about it. If you follow the guidelines you’ve learned from this chapter, you will notice that your engagements with people in real life will improve in no time.

The less time you spend on social media, the more time you can spend in nurturing the personal relationships that you have taken for granted due to addiction. 

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Alternative Applications

Gadgets and social media have one thing in common: they are all created to make connecting with people easier and convenient. They are designed to allow people to get in touch with their family and colleagues right away and can be great when used in that way. In addition, the entertainment provided by iOS and Android applications can be beneficial if used appropriately. 

Instead of using addictive social media apps, there are other great applications that you can make use of: 

  • Forest – this is an app that allows you to virtually grow plants in an empty land. In this game, you have to plant seeds that will grow into trees. The more seeds you plant, the more trees will grow until the empty land becomes a forest. The clincher is that you have to keep the app open and the plants will wither and die if you use other apps. 
  • StepLock – this is an app designed to select and block an application until you finish taking a certain number of steps every day. You can select the app that you are trying to stay away from and set the number of steps you need to take before you can open the app again. 
  • StepLock will track the number of steps you take and will block you from opening your selected app, a social media app in this case, if you are unable to reach your target number of steps. This app is free and available to Android users. 
  • Dinner Mode – this is a more limiting app than StepLock in a way that it doesn’t only block you from using a single app but it prohibits you from using your phone completely. This iOS app allows you to set a timer for how long you plan not to use your phone: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour. 
  • After setting the timer, a prompt will appear telling you to put your phone face-down. If you check your phone before the time you set, a red screen will appear telling you you’ve failed the challenge and asking you if you want to try again.
  • Onward – this is the best tool to use to track your app usage. The app sends automatic reports that provide information on the amount of time you spent on apps within an hour, a day, a week, or a month. It is open to people from different ages all over the world. 
  • The free use of this app will provide you with the basic reports, privacy assurance, accountability tracker, and tools to help you become less addicted to using your phone and certain applications. The paid premium Onward account will give you priority support as well as coping skills and personal coaching from artificial intelligent robot coach Al.

Start changing your online habits by downloading these apps. According to reviews, most people who used these apps were able to combat their addiction to social media and smartphones.

Sloane Davidson, the developer of the Dinner Mode app, shared how many parents are already using the app during their family dinners. 

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Conclusion

Mobile phones and digital devices are supposed to be beneficial to you. The same goes with social media. When using them starts to be detrimental to your psychosocial health, you have to take a stand. You can take positive steps to stop your addiction to digital devices and social media, TODAY. 

A bad habit is difficult to break, but by using the help and tips contained within this book, you will be able to fight your addiction. Share the lessons with your family and friends who are also suffering from the same problem. Overcome your addiction and live happier with your friends and loved ones. 

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— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Lifestyle

Why are we escaping to digital devices?

iPads, tablets and all manner of gadgets are ruling our lives on a daily basis

Written and researched by Monica C

There is no doubt that high-tech gadgets and digital devices have made life easier for people in the modern world. It is actually because of this convenience and the seemingly endless list of things that you can do using these devices that it is easy for adults to develop an addiction. It creeps up on them and before they know it, they are already too immersed in their online connection and they have become disconnected with the real world. 

Watch out for these symptoms of addiction to digital devices:

  • Lack of focus, concentration or attention 
  • Memory problem
  • Indecisiveness in decision-making
  • Fertility problem caused by too much exposure to electro-magnetic field (EMF) or radiation of the gadget
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Trouble in communication (expressing thoughts or opinions verbally)

A few years ago, experts identified “digital dementia” as a memory problem caused by the abusive use of gadgets. Digital dementia occurs in human brain cells and chemistry.

The “phone vibration syndrome” was also found to be common among adults. People thought they felt the phones in their pockets vibrating only to find no messages or notifications when they check. 

People are often so engrossed in their smartphones that they do not notice what’s happening around them and would often defend themselves and claim that they are actually multi-tasking.

There are even instances when they do not actually hear what other people are telling them because they are too busy flipping through their Android or iPhone apps.

Rules to Fight Gadget Addiction

Just like any other addiction, this one is not impossible to shake off although many people would find it challenging. The process takes commitment and willpower to pull through. Try these rules to fight your digital device addiction in your day-to-day activities: 

  • Don’t text while you’re driving. Keep this rule not only for your safety but also for the safety of other people who are with you. If you need to text someone, do it before you drive. If someone is in the car with you, let him check your phone and respond to the message for you. 
  • Don’t use your phone while you are waiting in line to order your meal or while you’re getting on a train. Be mindful of the people around you. 
  • Avoid using your phone when you’re already in the bedroom, especially right before bed time as the light affects your ability o fall asleep and sleep well.
  • Don’t use your phone when you are spending time with your loved ones or friends.
  • Leave your phone at home if you don’t need it. If you’re just going for a jog around your village, you don’t have to bring your phone with you. Don’t keep checking your phone when out at a meal with friends or a sports event or similar. Be present of the situation instead of getting lost in a digital world.

Be a responsible adult. If you have kids, set an example for them. If you are able to resist and fight your addiction to high-tech devices, it will be easier for you to implement rules for your kids to help them fight their addiction as well. 

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Helping Children Overcome their Digital Device Addiction

It’s alarming to see the number of children addicted to mobile devices. This dependency greatly impacts the lives of kids in the same the way it affects the adults.

One of the common problems linked to children’s addictions to gadgets is getting poor grades in school. Most kids get easily bored in studying their lessons but they can spend hours in playing with their gadgets.

They can’t focus on their class discussions, they are always looking forward to having breaks or going home so they can finally use their devices again. 

Children are also becoming forgetful. Their increased exposure in the virtual world is believed to be the culprit for their lack of interest to memorize their lessons in school. Why bother memorizing things when you can recall it at the touch of a button?

The problem is that they don’t care about these lapses as much as they do when they forget their phones or tablets. According to studies, children experience anxiety and agitation when they realize that they forgot to bring their devices with them. 

Most kids will throw tantrums when they are prohibited to use their devices, making it harder for parents to control them. Other kids, especially teens, would refuse to follow orders at home if their parents didn’t buy them the latest gadgets. 

The social abilities of children can also be hampered by gadget addiction. Many kids would rather stay at home to play with their devices rather than attend a children’s party. As a result, they may not get along with other kids easily. 

One of the biggest problems that may arise from this addiction is the way kids believe in the characters that they encounter while playing their mobile games. Some games that include fighting can make a kid feel it’s normal and it’s okay to be brutal to his friends.

Playing Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed could unduly influence a child’s thinking and normalize dangerous behavior, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Many use it as an escape mechanism but it could become more sinister when accessed by younger, more impressionable individuals.

grand theft auto
GTA: harmless or harmful?

Ways to Fight and Prevent Gadget Addiction 

Parents as well as caregivers should be responsible for implementing strict rules to the kids. They need to set up clear guidelines about using their devices so that the children will fully understand what can happen if they break the rules. 

Here are some rules that you may apply to your kids:

  • Don’t expose really young children to digital devices. There are other items or activities that can be used to keep young children preoccupied.  
  • If you must allow them to use digital devices, impose a limit to their gadget use. It is important to be firm and consistent when doing this. Yet, you should not make it seem like you are depriving them of something. A better approach would be to have other activities programmed in their daily schedules. Say that gadget time is over and it’s time to see Mr Sun for some outdoor fun. You can also apply this to other electronics like your television and their electronic toys. 
  • Set a schedule when your children are allowed to use their devices at home. It could be after dinner or after doing their homework. Set a time that is suitable for them. 
  • Don’t place the television or computer in your children’s bedroom. 
  • Observe a tech-free time at home when everyone in the house, including adults, is not allowed to use any gadget.
  • Monitor your children’s access to the device by sitting by their side while they are playing. This is a perfect opportunity to talk and have fun together as you watch them play their favorite game.
  • Avoid using any mobile device in front of your kid, unless it’s for emergency. If you have to use your phone or laptop for work-related purposes, do it when your children are not home or when they are already asleep. 
  • Teach your children the importance of using gadgets in moderation. 
  • Provide other means of entertainment such as books or a backyard pool. 

Kids are competitive. They would do anything just to get what they want. You can take advantage of this by making the use of gadget as a reward for their good deeds.

For example, they can only use their device after they finish their homework or household chores. This could help them develop self-discipline and willpower to overcome their gadget addiction.

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Don’t forget to praise your kids for their efforts in following your rules. By doing so, your kids will feel that they did something good and they will be inspired to do it again next time. 

A female app developer, who is a mother, admitted that she is also struggling to keep her children from getting addicted to smartphones or tablets.

Monica

For this reason, she works hard, along with other developers, to create Android apps that are educational. They also find ways to create more games that are academic but fun at the same time. 

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Lifestyle

Escape from Technology: smart phone addiction in adults and children

It’s shocking and we don’t want to admit it – but we have a problem 

Written and researched by Monica C

The number of people addicted to high-tech devices has increased dramatically over the last few years. In addition to this worrying trend, people became more addicted to social networking sites and applications. The problem was not only observed among adults but among children as well, as devices and applications proliferate youngsters’ lives on a daily basis.

In this book, you will learn more about how this addiction has affected, and continues to affect, the lives of many people. You will also understand what computer scientists and web developers do to make sure that people keep using their products and services, regardless of the implications.   

Moreover, this book provides useful tips to help you fight addiction to social media and high-tech gadgets. You will also find guidelines to help your kids control their use of devices.  In the last chapter of this book, you will find some great apps that you can use to help you overcome your addiction to digital devices and social media. 

By the time you finish reading, you will be equipped with lessons that will help you become responsible in managing your usage of social media and high-tech devices.

Monica

Adults’ Addiction to Smartphones and Other Gadgets

Addiction to gadgets is a common problem among people today. Too much use of smartphones and other types of high-tech devices can detrimentally affect the lives of many people. This addiction causes a negative impact towards people’s health and lifestyle.

According to a recent study, 56% of Americans own smartphones. High-tech devices like computers, laptops, and tablets are now part of people’s daily lives. Some people use gadgets for entertainment while others use them mainly for communication.  

These innovative devices are designed to be used in various ways and for different purposes. They are most commonly used for communication, social interaction, entertainment, information gathering and dissemination, and content production among other uses.

People find these devices convenient for doing online banking, completing projects for school, and creating presentations for work among others. There’s no doubting the positive impact such technologies and systems have had on society, but there is a downside to this as well.

The Problem

It’s a big issue for some adults when they misplace their smartphones – I’m the same, it can be an awful feeling. When this happens, people suddenly feel lost or incomplete and are unable to accomplish any task because they rely heavily on their gadgets to do their jobs. People use their smartphones, tablets, or laptops wherever they are and whenever they want to.

They are used even in places like the cinema or the bathroom, where these gadgets are considered out-of-place or intrusive to some extent. Who hasn’t quickly whipped out their iPhones when perched on the loo to quickly check Facebook or send a text?

The addiction to smartphones and other digital devices is further underscored by stories and accounts of people taking their devices to bed with them. They surf on their tablets, read eBooks, or play games on their smartphones, supposedly to help them fall asleep, much like counting sheep.

When their smartphones beep or ring, they pick up or check for messages even as they are already dozing off. Intimate moments are not spared from this addiction as studies have reported that one out of six couples has admitted checking their phones or texting while having sex

There’s also the issue of texting while driving. In many countries, this practice is widely prohibited and for good reasons. Studies show that this practice is seven times more dangerous than drink driving. 

drink driving
Texting while driving is on the increase

Spreading Like Wildfire

All of the instances are indications that addiction to digital devices and gadgets is indeed a bigger problem than people want to admit it is. Frequently using and the seeming inseparability with these gadgets and devices is perhaps one of the most common compulsive habits observed in adults today. The sad news is that children and teenagers are likewise emulating these habits and patterns and therefore also developing a dependency or addiction. 

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Children’s Addiction to Smartphones and Other Gadgets

Many addiction experts agree that the worst victims of gadget addiction are children and young people. Like adults, kids and teenagers use their devices all the time and are gradually becoming too attached to them. 

An independent research team in the UK interviewed over a thousand of teenagers and the respondents were asked about how they use their smartphones. Results showed that 92% of teenagers went online every day and more than half of them use their phones more than twice a day. Some of the respondents admitted to using their phones even when they were in school. Around 12% of the kids use their phones once a day, while 6% of the kids say they go online once a week. 

Most of the children nowadays grow up to having instant access to almost anything they want. Kids are given basic phones at an early age and most of them get smartphones by the time they become teenagers. Only a handful of parents put their foot down when it comes to allowing their kids to have gadgets or actively work on limiting gadget use. 

As children witness the addictive behavior from their parents, it is but natural for them to engage in the same practices as well.

Making the Addiction Worse

There are bigger problems that spring from the issue of addiction to digital devices and gadgets. If the kids are vulnerable to addiction to these devices, it is highly likely that they will also be vulnerable to other addictions. Addictive behaviour and dependency is something that goes beyond just one object of obsession.

Becoming dependent on a device at an early age can inadvertently open the door to susceptibility to addictions and dependencies later in life.

Sexting is another more recent issue that comes with digital device and social media addiction. Recently, concern has grown over the exposure of children to pornographic materials through their digital devices and the sharing of these materials through their smartphones.

Each year, the number of children exposed to explicit content grows. Kids can now access adult websites even without supervision and concern has grown over sexual or fetish content getting through the filters and on to children’s YouTube or for betting companies to target youngsters with well-known characters flashing on screens to advertise gambling games.

In a recent survey involving 1,500 teachers, around 75% of them admit that they are aware of students sharing sexual images and videos. Over the last three years, more than 2,000 children were involved in crimes linked to disturbing images. Many teenagers describe sexting as “normal.”

Most young girls think that sending naked pictures to someone is a common occurrence among their peer group. They say that it only becomes a problem if their parents find out. 

Kids also become more attached to their digital devices when they get addicted to playing mobile games. What’s worse is that it’s actually the parents who are often to blame for this kind of addiction. They use digital devices as surrogate or virtual nannies to keep the kids from becoming too rowdy, noisy, or fussy.

They think that for as long as their kids are preoccupied with their games on their devices, they are less likely to get into mischief or make a mess. What parents sometimes do not realize is that they are encouraging and supporting addictive behavior in their children. 

Mandy Saligari, an addiction expert, said that parents tend to overlook the addictive nature of high-tech devices. She notes that giving a tablet or a smartphone to a child is like giving him or her a gram of coke or a glass of wine.

She observes that many parents pay more attention to keeping their children away from alcohol and drugs rather than to keeping them from using their gadgets too much. They are failing to see that it’s the same addictive behaviour regardless if it’s alcohol and drugs or digital devices and social media.  

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— END —

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Escape the Rat Race to live in a van

Life got too hectic for Dusty so he grabbed some wheels and took to the road

Our man Peter R hitched a ride to see how he did it

Dusty Apostle (not his real surname you’ll be surprised to hear) is between the stage of consuming a hearty breakfast and facing the reality that there are pots and pans to be washed. The incessant waves of Covid-19 are meddling with many people’s daily routines but he is managing to remain focused on other things.

Having worked in an office for 11 years in financial services -often stuck in the British version of a cubicle existance- Dusty knows there is more to life than a 9-5 grind.

He has been living in a used Autotrail Mohican van for the last few months and is feeling motivated.

“This van is perfect because it offers me all the comforts and facitilies I need, all under one roof,” he says. “I have everything I need in here, like a pullout bed, cooking equipment, storage for some books and clothes. My fold-up bike is tucked away nice and handy as well.”

carrying a bicycle
Bicycles are practical for getting around quickly

Life in a business park grew stale

The sparse, naturally cramped, environment is a far cry from where Dusty once spent his days, in a business park on the outskirts of London. With thousands of workers buzzing like flies around the complex all day, there was little time for relaxation or peace and quiet in that location.

As the interest in online financial services and robo investing grew, Dusty’s job regularly changed. Longer hours, more pressure and a “harder working culture” as was envisioned at the time by a new CEO. Many of his co-workers lapped it up, eyeing new opportunities and fresh challenges.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important

Bertrand Russell

For Dusty, there was little more than a sense of dread at what was to come. “The general vibe was of excitement at all the money everyone was going to make and all the stuff they would buy,” he says. “Nobody stopped to consider the extra hours and added stresses that would come with the changes.”

Society obsesses over materialism and owning ‘stuff’

If Dusty was going to escape from this cycle of materalism and an endless striving to own and buy more items, he would have to plan a great escape. Living in a van was appealing but not his first consideration. Backpacking, working abroad or, like one of our recent intervieweees Margaret, setting up on a country homestead were also alluring options.

“I was always passionate about self sufficiency and looking after my own interests, so jumping into something completely new was a possibility. I thought about seasteading first, or some other kind of water-based activity. But it was so bloody cold here in the UK that I was worried about falling overboard in the middle of winter!”

Despite doing his research and constantly scanning the internet for options, nothing really happened until Dusty reached a low point in the office. Sitting filing paperwork at nearly midnight, as the team scurried to close on a lucrative deal, he realised it was time to act.

“It pretty much became now or never,” he recalls. “I realised that I would have to do something radical – jump without a parachute I suppose- and hopefully land on my feet.

“I actually received a lot of support from my colleagues, which was both surprising and very reassuring. I expected a few to say I was nuts but that wasn’t really the case. One or two said they wished they could do the same. Thinking back now I would tell them they can.”

living on a boat
Life on a boat has its drawbacks

Living in a van was the most appealing choice

Dusty made two life-changing decisions: he handed in his notice and bought a used camper van. By now he had done plenty of additional studying into multiple lifestyle choices, and van dwelling seemed like an appealing option.

“Living in a van appealed to me because it was cheap to run compared to living in a house or flat and it was on the road so I would be able to move about as I please, from location to location, finding places that suited me.”

Dusty went about contacting some more well established road campaigners and grabbing as many practical tips as he could. Nothing, however, could prepare him for some of the trials and tribulations that have occurred since he first took to running the dual carriage ways of the UK and beyond.

“From about October on it can get a bit chilly. I’ve had to invest in a few pairs of woolly socks, thick vests and a furry hot water bottle. It’s weird going to sleep in a beanie hat but it has to be done.”

Dusty might be a late starter but he has swiftly adapted to living in a van. Of course there have been some hairy moments along the way.

“Finding a good, safe spot to park for the evening can be difficult sometimes. I parked up in an industrial estate once and woke up the next morning to the sound of crashing and banging all around. I thought I was being towed away onto the back of a truck! Turns out I had stopped next to some bins and they were getting emptied at like 7am. It was quite literally a wake up call though. I take a closer eye to my surroundings when settling down for the evening.”

Dusty decided not to document his journey online

Now with over a year of experience under his belt, Dusty has decided against blogging or recording his journey in any way on social media. He has nothing negative to say abut those who do but it is just not for him and it took me a while and the help of a mutual friend to persuade him to agree to this interview.

“I’m sure I could write down a few stories and tips for other people thinking about doing this but a lot of it is already out there. Bloggers and podcasters are doing a better job than I could.”

Does he keep in touch with anyone still grinding away in the corporate rat race?

“One or two folks I would email from time-to-time. I don’t even have a smartphone or anything, just a top-up mobile in case of emergencies. I dip in to a Starbucks or the library to check emails.”

Dusty’s dream to escape the rat race has been realised and he has little idea of where he’ll end up next. That said, there is one place he won’t be returning to anytime soon…

“No chance you’ll find me in an office ever again!” he laughs. “If the van life gets too much I’ll pick litter off the streets first and live in a tent before you catch me sitting at a desk, punching numbers into a computer.”

— END —

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Lifestyle

Small Shelter: Living in a Tiny House

Thinking big, living small. More people are rejecting the familiar trappings of society and voluntarily down size

Escapers contributor Swetha L dissects a paper on the tiny house movement and the motivations behind its growth. We recently looked over the rise in digital nomads. This time it’s something a little different.

Dreaming big and living small: Examining motivations and satisfaction in tiny house living by Lauren M Boeckermann, Andrew T Kaczynski, Sarah B King

Section 1 – Introduction

The impetus for the shift towards tiny houses comes from three essential factors:

  • The average housing cost, adjusted for inflation, has increased by 9 times when compared to 1970s while the real incomes of people have remain unchanged
  • The average size of the household has increased from 1660 sq.ft in 1973to 2596 sq.ft in 2013 while the average size of the family has declined from 3.67 members in 1940 to 2.62 members in 2005. This means that the average square foot of housing per person has increased from 290 sq.ft in 1950 to 893 sq.ft in 2003
  • The environmental impact of urbanisation has increased by 50% as low density sub urban growth took place. There is increased need for energy and the storm water runoff has also increased due to increased use of concrete.

As a result of these factors, some people have begun to evaluate their needs and considered living in time homes.

apartment block
Housing costs are rising and good accommodation is at a premium

There are several factors associated with housing satisfaction. The following list of factors have been found to have a positive influence on the housing satisfaction of the residents.

Increase in housing cost and percentage share of income spent on housing.

Length of residence.

Adequacy of housing size, surrounding environment and green space.

Ownership of the house.

Housing satisfaction is in turn related to the life satisfaction and happiness of individuals.

The Tiny House movement is getting stronger

The tiny house movement began in 2002 and gained momentum with the establishment of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Small House Society. These societies aimed to provide high quality living spaces to individuals who wanted to intentionally reduce the size of their homes.

There is no standard measure for a tiny home and they generally ranged between 70 sq.ft to 300 sq.ft. The cost and complexity of the tiny house varied while all included space for sleeping, bathing, storage and cooking.

The kinds of people who chose to live in tiny houses were diverse. Research has been able to identify several niche populations such as students, retired seniors and young adults as choosing to live in tiny houses.

Some wealthy individuals who strongly believe in downsizing also choose to live in tiny homes. Several organisations are using transportable small homes for sheltering the homeless in Wisconsin and Oregon.

The reasons for choosing tiny living are also diverse. A study by Mutter (2013) has identified 6 important motivations.

Tiny houses may have their appeal, but they’re not the right fit for everyone. There are a few things to consider before plunging into such a small space.

Hillary Hoffower, Business Insider

Leading a simpler life: Reduce consumerist culture that is typical of American society.

Reduce environmental impact: Decrease carbon footprint by using recycled materials, alternative sources of energy, collection of rain water and so on.

Cost: Enable people to own houses at relatively low costs.

Flexibility and freedom: People can move their houses where ever they want to.

Sense of community.

Customisation potential.

shopping consumption
More people are re evaluating their consumption lifestyles

Tiny House Research Question

To examine the motivations of people to live in tiny houses using quantitative measures on a large sample.

To test the relationship between motivations and the satisfaction derived from living tiny after accounting for factors like size, cost, duration and so on.

To identify population who are more willing to live in tiny homes.

To find the key factors behind the growing trend of tiny houses.

Research Paper Method

The Tiny House Community Survey was developed for the purpose of this study with 57 items divided into four parts.

Demographic details- age, race and ethnicity, education and annual household income.

House characteristics- size, current living arrangement, length of residence, cost, ownership and mobility of the house.

Motivations- simplicity, sustainability and environmental factors, cost, freedom and mobility, sense of community, interest in design and empowerment were measured on a 5 point scale.

Satisfaction captured using a 5 point scale.

These factors were dichotomized to run a logistic regression.

sustainable growing
Sustainability is a concern

Section 2 – Sample Evidence

64 respondents from USA (61), New Zealand (1), Canada (1), Australia (1).

Permitted for only one response per household to ensure diversity of the sample.

Not restricted to a particular country.

Data Collection

Social Media posts on Facebook to reach out to community pages of tiny home dwellers.

Outreach to blogs related to tiny living and minimalism to reach potential tiny home dwellers.

Instagram page on tiny house community survey to directly reach out to tiny home dwellers.

Participants given a chance to win either one of the two gift cards for their participation in the survey.

Data Analysis

Logistic regression to find association between motivations for living in tiny houses with housing satisfaction after accounting for other house and individual characteristics.

Research Results

Demographic characteristics.

Sex: Female (78%), Male (20%).

Age: Young (59%), Old (41%).

Race: White (96%), Biracial (4%) – Hispanic (9%), Non-Hispanic (91%).

Education: 2 year degree or less (41%) 4 year degree or more (60%).

Income: $59999 or less (59%), $60000 or more (41%).

Section 3 – Tiny House Characteristics

Size: up to 199 sq.ft (32%), 200 to 799 sq.ft (68%).

Ownership: Owned (71%), not owned (29%).

Length of residence: less than a year (49%), more than a year (51%).

Mobility: Yes (89%), no (11%).

Residents: Single (45%), Partner (33%), Family (22%).

Total Cost: $39999 or less (53%), $40000 or more (47%).

Motivations: Cost, Simplicity and Freedom were the top motivations

Cost: High (72%), Low (28%).

Simplicity: High (66%), Low (34%).

Freedom and mobility: High (52%), Low (48%).

Environmental Impact: High (50%) Low (50%).

Interest in Design: High (37%), Low (63%).

Empowerment: High (24%), Low (76%).

Sense of Community: High (22%), Low (78%).

Bivariate Relationships

Unadjusted odds ratio showed that individuals who were highly motivated by simplicity for adopt tiny living were more likely to be satisfied with their housing status. Other motivations were found to be insignificant.

Adjusted odds ratio estimated after accounting for other influencing variables showed that the desire to live life in a simple manner was the only factor associated with tiny house satisfaction.

Age was the only demographic measure associated with satisfaction as older people were more likely to be satisfied than younger people with tiny houses. Other demographic and house related characteristics were found to be insignificant.

tiny house shacks
Having a nice view is always a bonus

Section 3 – Tiny House Discussion Points and Concluding Remarks

A simplified lifestyle was found to be the only significant motivation for housing satisfaction for individuals who lived in tiny houses. The possible reason for this significance is because of the fact that a small house constraints an individual from buying more things.

They will have to restrict themselves with the basic of possessions. This would also mean decreased expenses focusing on gaining experiences not consumerist goods. The results of this study are consistent with the other studies which have found that residents take into consideration the fit between their self-congruity and the perceived image of the house along with the functional aspects of the house.

Though other studies  have shown that satisfaction is associated with the demographic characteristics but this study found age to be the only significant variable.

Tiny House Limitations for Rat Race escapers

Sample homogeneity reducing the generalizability of the results.

Sample restricted to those who engage in the online community.

Cross-sectional design can only help identify associations and not causal relationships.

senior citizens
This lifestyle attracts both young and old – Senior Safety Advice

Tiny House Living Conclusions

Limited literature in the area though it is of growing concern.

Study helps understand the reason for people’s choice to downsize.

Providing information and awareness is required to overcome the challenges of lack of information, legal concerns and financing opportunities.

Desire for simplicity is the key factor for satisfaction in living in a tiny house.

— END —

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Quitting the Rat Race: How one woman escaped her 9 to 5 job

Margaret needed to escape the grind so she took action

By Peter R

On a roasting Friday afternoon in rural England, while the trees baked and the only sound is that of a distant stream, Margaret is busy pruning an unruly hedgerow.

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Lifestyle

Freeganism as a way of life

There are many different reasons why people escape to a freegan lifestyle

By Monica C

This is part three. Find part two here.

Freeganism can be labelled as a subculture of people. In this subculture, there are different types of freegans who are classified according to their motivations to adapt to the freegan lifestyle.

The feeling of remorse for wasted food and products.

They are aware of how much food is wasted each year. They know that there is mass waste of clothes, gadgets, and furniture all bought in order to keep up with the recent trends and fashion. With that in mind, freegans take advantage of the opportunity to find useful items in the bins and dumpsters.

Love for the animals and environment.

Freegans are aware of the toxins and negative effects of the by-products used by a company. They also know how much non-biodegradable things are thrown away by people who are not aware of their negative effects. They know that there are abused animals in every fur and wool products.

For these reasons they adopt a freegan lifestyle with an aim of saving the environment. They want to eliminate waste and the dangers of some products by scouting the dumpster and reusing or recycling whatever they can find. They also don’t want to subscribe to purchase of products that cause the abuse of some animals.

They are against consumerism and capitalism.

They are the real freegans because they believe strongly that they know the real principles behind freeganism and who the real culprit is. Because of this they avoid everything that can make the capitalists stronger. They achieve this by not buying their products, insulting them by getting these products from a dumpster for free, proving to them that they can live without buying their products, or sometimes by shoplifting (this is the exception not the rule).

They are just extremely frugal.

Some people are just extremely frugal. They adapt to the freegan lifestyle for personal reasons. They just want to save lots of money, because it is an obvious fact that you can save a lot when you dumpster dive.

Aside from these common motivators for adopting a freegan lifestyle there are other various reasons. Some are encouraged by friends who are freegans while others just hang out with other freegans, because there are various events and activities held in freegan communities.

How to be a real freegan?

The first and the most important thing that you have to do is to ask yourself, “What are you fighting for?” or “Why do you want to become a part of a community who are willing to face the prejudice of the society?”

Although it may seem easy to adapt to a freegan lifestyle, the difficult parts are mainly the battles that you will have to face in your everyday life. To become a serious freegan, there are a lot of sacrifices that you will have to make. These include your pride and career – that’s if you are a capitalist or you working for a capitalist.

What’s important is that you are prepared and you have the confidence and bravery to face these battles. These battles include the fight against capitalism and consumerism. That’s why if you have this so-called career that includes working for a capitalist, or being a capitalist yourself, you may want to say goodbye to it. Not to mention the personal battles against the prejudice and discrimination of closed-minded people who can’t even figure out the difference between a freegan and a bum.

If you think you are ready to face life as a freegan, here are some important practices you have to apply:

Work less

As was mentioned before, time is the most valuable thing for a freegan. A freegan devotes most of his or her time to family, friends and community. He devotes most of his time taking actions against consumerism and capitalism. He also devotes his time teaching the others on how to create something good out of trash.

Squat or couchsurf

A freegan believes that lands should be publicly shared. That is why he doesn’t bother paying for a rent or mortgage. He would squat or couch surf instead or live in a communal area.

He would squat in an abandoned house to provide housing for those people who want it, or he will use the place to provide education for the community. On the other hand, couch surfing is also encouraged to all the freegans worldwide, because this is a way to build stronger relationships between likeminded individuals.

Waste Reclamation

This is a trademark of a freegan. He does it to eliminate the wasted stuff and food items. Many hungry people in the world are living in poverty. That’s why freegans try to extend their help by saving the foods and stuff from a dumpster and sharing these to the others for free.

Gardening and farming

Freegans are against GMOs and corporate food production systems. That’s why they create their own food by planting fruits, vegetables and herbs.

They minimize waste

They organize activities like free markets and free stores. During these events, you can swap the things that don’t seem useful for you, but can still be used by others. You can also swap your recycled stuff through internet-based swapping sites.

They don’t own a car

To get from one place to another, a freegan hitchhikes or uses the train or a bike because they know that owning a car will only contribute to pollution. In addition, they are fully aware that buying a car is a form of subscription to consumerism. This said, a documentary aired in the UK some years ago showed freegans driving around in a camper van using doctored vegetable oil as fuel!

The perks of being a freegan

It is a fact that there’s a movement or even an ideology behind freeganism and anyone who practices it can enjoy other benefits including the following:

Free food, house, furniture and other stuff

Your food and your housing is always free. You can find food in a dumpster or you can pick it from your garden. You don’t need to pay for rent or a mortgage because you have an abandoned house as your home, or you can find a place to stay with likeminded people. The same goes to the other things that you can find in a dumpster. If you’re lucky enough, you may even find something unexpectedly beautiful.

You don’t have to please anybody

You don’t have to follow any rules. You do not have any bosses to please. You don’t have any irate customers to deal with.

More friends

Freegans are social people. They promote couch surfing and gathering events to meet up with the other freegans in different parts of the world.

References for all three articles

Freegan.info. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://freegan.info/

Blood Diamonds are still a reality. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from https://www.amnesty.ie/news/blood-diamonds-are-still-reality

Global Exchange. (n.d.). A How-To Guide That Shows What You Can Do to Promote Fair Trade for Cocoa Farmers. 2017 Mission Street, Suite 303, San Francisco, CA., from http://www.globalexchange.org/sites/default/files/ChocolateActionPack.pdf

Lindeman, S. (n.d.). Freegans: The Refined Art of Dumpster Diving. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/freegans-dumpster-diving-zm0z12sozlin.aspx

Smithers, R. (2013, January 10). Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/10/half-world-food-waste

The Chinese Fur Industry. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/chinese-fur-industry/

The Wool Industry. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry/

Wilson, S. (n.d.). The Story of Cascade Locks, and The Story of Nestlé. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://storyofstuff.org/blog/the-story-of-nestle/

Further Reading and viewing

Further reading materials and videos can be found below.

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Categories
Lifestyle

Escaping to freeganism: philosophies, ethics and principles

Delving further in to the freegan movement and their desire to escape the shackles of conventional society

By Monica C

This is part 2. Click here to find part one.

What is the freegan vision?

Freegans look at current society and see victims of capitalism, and people functioning as if profits and consumerism are inherently good things. In a freegan’s point of view, these are not good things, but instead represent the causes of the problems in wider society.

Because of capitalism (amongst many other things, it’s not the sole cause), inequality between people exists; animals are treated not as living creatures but as machines and the Earth is filled with pollutants caused by the companies’ by-products. For the freegans, the root of all the self-destructing factors in the society is capitalism.

For them, if capitalism continues to fool the society of its “benefits,” they fear that in the near future, all forests will be cleared (see the excessive logging in Brazil for example), there will be no clean air to breathe, no clean water to drink and no sustainable food sources to eat.

Why do freegans blame capitalism for all the bad things that are happening in the society?

Some people say that capitalism doesn’t exist nowadays, and if it does, it’s already controlled by different laws. Others say that good capitalism in the modern society has to exist, because it creates different roles for everyone, not to mention the product innovations and concept of ownership.

In the eyes of a freegan, capitalism is the root of almost all of the problems in the society. It is the reason why social classes exist and why some people dream of working in a better profession and gaining more profitable employment. But it is the reason for the continuous destruction of the Earth’s biosphere.

The following are some of the societal problems caused by capitalism and consumerism, which gave rise to the freeganism movement.

poverty

Do freegans see capitalism as the cause of discrimination

In the workplace

Everyday, you have to work hard for almost 6-8 hours per day. You have the most tedious and difficult job, but at the end of the day, what you’ll find out is that all of your hardships and effort are just equivalent to an amount of money which is often still not enough to provide for the needs of your family.

To make it worse, your superiors don’t really have to do much about anything. They are just there to supervise you. They sit in their office, signing off jobs and follow a decision-making process, but they still make more money than you do. You cannot complain about it because they’re the owners. They’re the ones who are paying you. You are just there to follow and and make them richer.

In educational attainment

In current times the primary aim of the existence of schools is not to promote true education but train the children on how to be better slaves for capitalists.

Nowadays, you’ll hear most parents telling their children to do their best at school. They tell them to compete with their classmates and other schoolers to get a better job in the future. You won’t hear the parents say that they have to go to school to learn something interesting and new, so they can become whoever they want to become.  

This misconception about school is rooted from the unequal opportunities of people based on educational attainment. Those people who have graduated with a degree have a greater opportunity to get a better job.

If you’re a college graduate and you are compared to an undergrad, you will always have the edge whether you learned something from college or not. As long as you have this piece of paper called diploma, you are welcome in the HR’s office to get your interview. However, if you are the undergrad, there are less opportunities for you no matter how experienced or smart you are.

In race

Capitalism is the reason why job stereotyping among races, colour, and gender exists. Without capitalism, there’ll be no inferior or superior countries. There’ll be no need for human resource exportation and everyone will be treated equally.

Capitalism takes charge of people’s most important commodity

For the freegans, time is the most valuable commodity. Humans have only one life to live and it’s short. Because of capitalism, this valuable commodity is taken away from them.  

Your boss also has a lot of control over the majority of your time. Imagine the fact that you spend most of the time working for them while you are awake. This is the harsh truth that you cannot resist when you choose to work for them, because resisting their orders and not following the rules that they’ve set at work may cause you to get fired.

Capitalism destroys the environment and the welfare of animals.

Freegans believe that all companies are responsible for the environmental destruction. Waste materials are inevitable by-products, when a company produces something. These waste materials can destroy the Earth’s biosphere.

It doesn’t matter if these companies claim to be externalists or socially responsible

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Freegans don’t believe these kinds of marketing campaigns because not everyone is 100 per cent sure that their products are 100 per cent eco-friendly.

For example, the eco-friendly cars. Freegans don’t believe that these “eco-friendly” cars are 100 per cent eco-friendly. How about their paint and other components? What about the machineries and other equipment used in making this product? What about its by-products?

Capitalism creates a lot of waste

Capitalism is the reason that fads exist. Because of the marketing campaigns and frequent innovations on different products, people have this urge to be “in” or buy what the marketing campaign has told them to buy. Because of this, a lot of usable or edible products are thrown away.

Companies are getting richer and richer, while consumers are wasting more commodities, money and other resources.

Capitalism takes possession of the things meant to be shared.

The illusion of “right” perceived by most people nowadays is the result of the “buy it to own it” concept. According to them, this is the way to settle the dispute about ownership among people.  

The funny thing is that people still have this dispute, even in the presence of titles, receipts and certifications. It is also ironic that natural resources, such as water, forest, land, trees, and animals, are naturally made and humans made no contribution in their existence. In fact, these things were already there even before the humans appeared on Earth. So do humans have this real right to take possession of these things?

Capitalism fools society in view of what is valuable or not.

The illusion of what is valuable and what is not is dictated to the society by various marketing campaigns. TV commercials, radio and magazine ads and other marketing collaterals designed to teach the consumers what to believe.

Different marketing strategies are made to manipulate the biased tendencies of the brain. In the modern marketing strategy, emotions are manipulated to get the people to buy an endorsed product.

The products are commonly bought, not because of their real value, but because of what the marketing campaign has told them.

For this reason, most people in society discard and neglect all the wasted products because they think that these are not valuable at all. What the marketing campaign says to be valuable is mostly what is only valuable for them.

Because of this illusion, people forget that there are good things that they can find in the dumpster. In fact, if you are creative enough, and you know that there are valuable things in the trash, you can still make something new, and something beautiful and important.    

Statistics and facts

Some people oppose the principles and morals practiced by the freegans. They think that freegans tend to overreact to the problems of the current society. The opponents also believe that freegans can’t make any effective changes in society and they are just risking their health because of their lifestyle.

People naturally have different beliefs and they have their own way of dealing with the societal problems. However, there are proven statistics and facts that can prove the self-destructing effects of capitalism and most importanlty over-consumption. It also proves that freegans are just people who are aware of the possible long-term effects of materialism and consumption and they are just taking a serious action to prevent it before it gets too late.

Proof that capitalist exploitation still exists

According to the Storyofstuff.org, the main source of income of most people in Cascade Lock, Oregon is agriculture. The residents were sharing the water of the publicly-owned water source called Oxbow Springs.  

However, in 2007, Nestlé came to Cascade Lock to deal for the privatization of Oxbow Springs. Nestle were planning to make bottled water beverages out of the spring’s water and sell them back to people. They in return promised to open 50 new jobs to people.

Proof of hunger

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2013 there were more than 49 million of Americans who have been struggling to find food to eat. Also, in 2013, there were 21.5 million children who received free or reduced-price lunches from the National School Lunch Program.

Approximately 50 per cent of these children received free or reduced price breakfast from the School Breakfast Program. Only 2.4 million of these children received free or reduced price food from the Summer Food Service Program during summer months.

Proof about food waste

According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in UK, there is approximately two billion tonnes, or almost half of the food produced in the world, that never makes it on the table each year. The IMechE says that it is all because of the unnecessary sell-by dates, buy one-get one free promotional strategies, poor storage facilities, engineering and agricultural practices, and consumers’ demand for cosmetically perfect food.

The United Nations predicted that by the end of the century, there will be an extra three billion people to feed and the demand for food and other resources is continuously growing. That’s why it is important to deal with this problem about food waste.

Examples of abuse behind products

Diamonds

According to Amnesty International around 3.7 million people died in Africa during the three-year civil war. This is all because of the illegal trade of diamonds that cost billions of dollars all to provide arms for rebels and warlords.

Wools

According to PETA, sheep are treated as wool-producing machines and not as living creatures. Because of the huge market for wool, sheep are the ones that are abused.

Shearers are paid per volume, and not per hour, that’s why they are encouraged to work as fast as they can, even if it harms the sheep. Because of this fast-paced work, the shearers can inevitably cut the sheeps’ skin. Most shearers just leave the sheeps’ wound as it is, and some sew it without using any painkillers. Aside from that, others report certain cases of sheep maltreatment including kicking, punching, hitting, and other forms of abuse.   

In Australia, there’s a breed of sheep cultured specifically for its capability to produce a thick wool due to its wrinkly skin. The breed of this sheep is called merino. The ranchers commonly let the wool grow without considering its effects on the sheep during the hot months. Aside from that, its thick wool can collect some of the sheep’s waste, attracting a breeding haven for flies, especially in the wrinkly area of the skin, where the moisture commonly collects. Because of this, there are merinos that are eaten alive by maggots.

To face this problem, some ranchers apply a deadly procedure on lambs that are as young as two to eight weeks old. The lambs are forced to endure the procedure, which prevents their skin from wrinkling. This procedure is called molesing. This method is applied by restraining a lamb’s legs and forcing it to its back. After that, the rancher will cut a huge chunk of skin on the lambs backside without any painkillers. This is the main reason behind the death of many lambs even before they reach their eighth week.

Cocoa

According to the globalexchange.org, West Africa has been the main source of cocoa in 60 years. It comprises the 67 per cent of the world’s total production of cocoa.

America is the largest consumer of cocoa. Americans spent a total of $13 billion dollars on chocolate and ate 3.3 billion pounds of it in 2001.

Behind the sweet, delicious and addictive taste of chocolate, there’s a horrible labor force behind it. The low global market value of chocolate has been owed to the children who are forced to work in cocoa plantations. These children are forced to complete hazardous daily tasks without any protection, such as using machetes and pesticides.

According to the US State Department, there have been 15,000 children who were sold to work in plantations of cocoa, coffee and cotton in the Ivory Coast, the greatest producer of cocoa. Also, according to UNICEF and IITA, the Ivory Coast farmers have been using child slaves who came from the neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo, Mali and Benin.

Also, according to the IITA, 60 per cent of children who are working in cocoa plantations have never been into school.

Fur

China has been the greatest exporter of fur in the world, and their consumer is the United States. Why? It is because certain animal abuses are not illegal in China.

According to PETA, there are even fur farms in China that operate legally to exploit and abuse the animals in unimaginable and barbaric ways. The animals that you can find here include dogs, cats, rabbits, foxes and other animals. These animals are commonly placed in a wired cage wherein they are exposed to the scorching sun and heavy rainfalls.

To make it even worse, when it’s time to “harvest,” the fur farmers will pull the animals aggressively from their cages, throw them onto the ground and hit them with a bludgeon.

It doesn’t end there just yet. According to the undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection / EAST International, the fur farmers would hang them by their legs or tail and would begin skinning them. It is the worst part for the animals that survived the bludgeon, because they are skinned alive. After this process, they will be thrown into the pile of skinless and bloody animals that have gone before them.

It seems like doing this kind of stuff is just a part of everyday life in China, because you’ll find more fur farms and animal market in other places, wherein you’ll see domestic animals, such as dogs and cats hanged and bleeding to death.

These are just some of the examples of abuse behind every product. It will take more than a thousand-page book to expose all the wrongdoings and abuse of brands and products and we are just using these examples to highlight the backdrop of abuses that shape the ethics and philosophies of the freegan movement.

It is because the freegans believe that even though a product appears to be legally produced and loved by loyal customers, there are still hints of abuse and harm behind it.

For example, a plastic bag is a product that is widely accepted by society, but is it good for the environment? A glass of Coca Cola is a product legally produced and widely accepted, but is it good for your body? The same goes with cigarettes, alcohol, and more.

The only foods or goods that are accepted by the freegans are those that are naturally harvested and are wasted away by some people. They reuse and recycle whatever they can find useful to eliminate the harmful effects of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials in the environment.

Freegans’ solution to the effects of consumerism and capitalism

The freegans’ aim to battle against capitalism by living a simple life. They want the kind of society which is almost the same as primitive times when our ancestors were living a simple life and were just happy with what they had and what they could acquire, sustainably from the environment.

The freegans do not like people to take full control of the environment and use it to benefit only them. They just want to let the environment provide for them as naturally as it used to during the ancient times.

For this reason, they don’t let capitalism dictate the way they have to live. They live by not letting the “bosses” enslave them because they believe that their motives are for profits and not for the good of society. They don’t buy the goods that will only profit the capitalists and enslave the poor.

They have to live in a simple way by not subscribing to the illusion of  a “good life,” or material existence that the capitalists dictate them. They have to do it to save the environment and the society. They do it by saving the goods that the other people see as trash. They have to live a simple and happy life to teach the others about freeganism and the creative ways of doing it.

They want to show to everyone that the world is a beautiful place to live. They want to prove to people that it is possible to feel happier and be richer by seeing others’ perspectives and by seeing the opposite of what every marketing collateral tells them is beautiful and desirable. They want to show the world that people can still survive without over consuming and that they can be happy with all the things that the environment can naturally give them.

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