I just received a notice to vacate from my landlord. They have given me 60 days. We’ve had a great relationship for the last 3.5 years and I’ve always paid rent on time. I was a pretty easy tenant for them and pretty ideal in my mind. The reason that they’re sending me on my way is that I rent the apartment from them and sublet out the bedrooms for short-term stays. I provide furnished rooms in a furnished home for people to stay at a great price and that allows me to live rent-free in my little 36 square foot closet room. I have done that for three years, knowing that it was against the term of my lease, but also assuming my landlords probably knew since a simple Craigslist or Airbnb search by them would have found my ads. Plus all the different people staying at my house all the time was a pretty dead give away.
I received the letter two days ago in the midst of a very hectic bicycle tour and I do not intend to be back until just a week or so before I now have to vacate. So for the first 20 seconds of thought I felt a slight bit of worry. Then I quickly looked at the bright side and realized this would force me to finally leave the apartment that I’ve wanted to move from for a while now. A smile quickly grew on my face and excitement churned through me. I thought to myself, “I can finally find that place with a backyard where I can grow my own food and have a quiet place for meditation and yoga.”
Then I started to think even more. I asked myself, “Do I even need a place?” I travel six months out of the year anyway and I’ve had my own place for a while now. Maybe I don’t need a place to myself at all. Being the logical decision maker that I am I thought over the pros and cons of going home free so that I could make a well thought out decision. I thought about my mission in life and asked myself how I could go about my life without having a home.
These are the questions that were more important to me.
How can I demonstrate how to live sustainably at home as I have previously done without my own place?
I will stay with others for short periods of time such as a week or month and I will help them to turn their houses into more sustainable homes. I’ll put in energy efficient bulbs and water saving shower heads and faucets, help them to start composting, and teach them all the simple ways to make their home cleaner and greener for themselves and the earth. I will help them to see what they think they need and what they actually need to help them simplify their life. In doing so I will save them money for much time to come which can in part or in full be my contribution for staying with them. Their future guests will be exposed to a more sustainable way of living, sending out little ripples of earth friendliness each day.
Where will I sleep without a home?
Well, when the earth is my home I can never be homeless. I am only a man of just under six feet and there are many six-foot places where I can rest my body for the night. I will have a sleeping mat and sleeping bag to keep me comfortable whether indoors our outdoors and I will carry a tent to protect me if I am outdoors. I will stay with people for short periods of time to provide myself shelter and with the intentions of imparting health and happiness into their lives.
Where will I put my stuff?
I have been reducing my stuff for quite some time now. I no longer own much. No car, no valuable furniture, not much for valuable possessions whatsoever. However I do have some gear but even that I will reduce again upon leaving my apartment. The stuff that I do have, some of it I will carry with me and the rest I will store at a friends house. The most important possessions are some clothes, my bicycle (my ever important transportation), and my computer and phone (not necessary for life but very helpful tools in my mission). I have found as I am cycling across the country right now that everything I need fits right on my bicycle. I do not need much. I am a simple man and I will share. I will share everything I have with everyone and I know that others will share with me too, for that is what we do in the sharing economy. We are friends who share.
And how about my mail?
I am not a fan of wasting paper or the fossil fuel used to send it to me. My correspondence will be mostly via the World Wide Web. However for the important mail I will have a location, either a PO box or I will have it mailed to a friend, a dear friend.
Where will I put the large bounties of food that I get from dumpster diving?
I planned upon my return to get tons of fresh fruits and veggies from the dumpsters to share with others. I planned on storing it at my place and letting people come to my home to get free food. I planned to host dumpster dinners in my house, both to feed people and also to teach about food waste. Even without a home I will feed my community and disperse quality food amongst other people. I will make canned goods like pasta sauce, jams, and vegetables in the kitchen of a volunteer and we will then give it all away.
Where will I use the Internet?
Well of course I have a laptop but even if I didn’t there are libraries all over with computers for members and guests to use. Since libraries are funded by taxes and I may not be paying much tax I will volunteer my time instead. There is WIFI everywhere- cafes, homes, and businesses. This is how I will keep in touch and continue to spread inspiration online.
Where will I grow my own food?
I will simply get a plot at the community garden or grow food in the yards of my friends, sharing my bounty with everyone. Maybe I will start Food is Free Gardens around my community.
How will I compost without my own compost bin?
I will teach other people to compost in my community so that I can use theirs or I will bring mine to the community garden.
Where will I get clean water for drinking?
I will carry a water purifier with me and I will drink from the tap. We are blessed with easy access to water in the United States although it is not pure of chemicals but that is a challenge that I will overcome.
Where will I host my events where I teach people?
This country is full of public parks free for our usage and they are a wonderful place to bring people together. The country is full of homes and businesses wanting to do better for the world. I will get them involved, hosting events, thus helping them with their mission while they help me with mine.
Where will I put my garbage with no garbage can of my own?
I do not make garbage, I eat garbage. Oh what was that? Yes I eat more garbage than I create. I am garbage negative. However I must say that the food I eat, although from dumpsters, is not garbage. Just because someone else decided that it is garbage does not mean that it is necessarily garbage. And I have decided that what our grocery stores are throwing away is still perfectly good food that can give nutrients to those in need. All of us humans are in need. We need water, food, electricity, clothing, and shelter. We are all needy and we are all dependent on others and this earth for our needs.
How about showering and hygiene?
Well of course I could just use the showers of other people because there are so many of them, as there are so many of everything, that we could share. However I do not use showers. Instead I swim in natural bodies of water in order to conserve our much-needed water. Especially in Southern California where we are under a massive drought right now. So I will swim daily in the Pacific Ocean. And for anyone who worries about me contaminating the water with soap or chemicals you mustn’t worry. I do not use any soap, shampoo, deodorants, or cologne. No chemicals are applied to my body, only natural materials in very minimal amounts. I also eat quite pure with minimal chemicals. My body feels as if it is a part of nature thus I feel comfortable using nature as my bath.
And what about transportation?
I will use my bicycle of course. This can get me just about anywhere I need to go. However if I need a vehicle I will use car2go, which is an electric car share program. Using just my simple membership card I can get into any of these smart cars spread throughout the city, drive to where I need to go, and park it right there on the street. Non-ownership has never been so easy.
I write this with excitement for a new way of life. In many ways it is not new for me but almost always I have had an apartment of my own to fall back on. I have always been able to say that I have a place, which creates a different stigma for many. Now I will not have my own place, but I do say again that the earth is my place. Many do not understand that concept though and will consider me a homeless man. That is part of what I am doing though. I’m showing people that there are alternatives to life and there is no need to place stereotypes or stigmas upon people. There is no need to put judgment upon someone for their clothes or possessions because you do not know who they really are. You do know that when people judge you they are often wrong and thus you are probably wrong as well when you judge others.
I will live a life that is out of doors, for I find that when I have my own place I often get stuck inside of it. I spend too much of my time in there when I could be outside breathing the much fresher air instead. By going home free I hope that I will no longer get stuck inside. That is the life for me.
I will live more happiness, more health, and more freedom than I ever have before. With fewer possessions, less stresses, less bills, less dependency on money, but with more of everything I want. With more human connection, more involvement in my community, more being at the service of other human beings. You see, this is what brings me my greatest joy. This is what brings me my health and my happiness. Simplicity, service, and a constant drive to make everybody I know a happier, healthier, and more understanding human being.