This Sustainable Life


431: I sang every day for two months, unplugged (still going)

Ep. 431

What do you do if you use less power? No social media? No listening to music? No TV?

Sound like a fate worse than death?

Inspired by guests on my podcast who find amazing activities to live by their environmental values, I committed to turning off all my electronics to sing every day. I've almost never sung in my life beyond Happy Birthday and The Star Spangled Banner so I'm mortified to play my remedial results live, but I love it. I know I'll keep going so today's recording isn't the end.

I recorded singing a couple songs at the beginning. to record I opened the laptop, all other times I sang with the power off. At night I had to open the door to the hallway to read the words until I started singing outside during my daily walks picking up litter.

So far I've spent zero dollars on it. The first two weeks I sang fifteen minutes a day. Later I shifted to at least one song, so a few minutes a day.

Today's episode starts with my describing the experience and a few stories, then with neither pride nor shame, I play the "before" recording, then the "after."

The track listing:


  • 14:42 The Beatles, Across the Universe
  • 19:30 The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps


  • 22:40 The Beatles, Across the Universe
  • 26:28 The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • 28:44 John Denver, I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane
  • 31:26 Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
  • 33:01 Spandau Ballet, True
  • 36:12 The Cure, Pictures of You
  • 38:54 Earth, Wind, and Fire, September
  • 42:19 Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land

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666: Mark Plotkin: Learning From Indigenous Cultures, the People Not Just Our Projections

Ep. 666
Every step I take toward sustainability leads me to learn how much humans have figured out how to live sustainably. I'm far from living sustainably, though I've come a long way. We are wiping out the cultures living sustainably these cultures, now hanging on by threads. Besides practices and viewpoints, I'm learning humility. We don't have all the answers. Far from it. They may not either, but at least they can help us restore lost values of community we're jettisoning in favor of isolation and humility to nature we're jettisoning in favor of ignoring that our attempts to dominate nature are accumulating unintended side effects hurting us more than helping.Such are my views. I haven't lived among indigenous cultures and don't expect to. Mark has, among several for long times. He can speak more knowledgeably, compassionately, and helpfully than many can.In this conversation he shares his decades of learning from experience and research. He describes actual people and cultures, not projections or hopes. I share some views I've developed, which he helps me refine and extend based on that experience. We talk about how life benefits from learning from them, contrary to what our culture tells us, that without what fossil fuels and other tamed energy bring we would suffer.On the contrary, on what means the most to us, we would thrive. And we'd stop wiping them out.Mark's home pageMark's TED talk: What the people of the Amazon know that you don’tMark's podcast: The Plants of the Gods