Tag Archive: car-free


Our baggy bunnies are still overpopulating our house, but their hold on the kitchen is loosening.

The latest issue of The Free Weekly is out today, and my column Making Ripples talks about reducing plastic use in the kitchen from bulk aisle food purchases.  (I’ve noticed the formatting and punctuation is off on the online version of the column, so I’m sorry if that makes it harder to read – I don’t post them myself so I can’t fix it.) Some of you may remember this is a challenge area for us, because we don’t own a car and those mason jars add up in weight!  But carpooling makes things much easier, and less wasteful. We also tend to re-use the same baggy, let’s say for example almonds, and then pour the almonds into the glass jar so the baggy can go back & forth to the store.  This isn’t the greatest method because if you have 100 food items then you may end up with 100+ plastic baggies, especially if you occasionally forget the baggy labeled “curry powder” and need to get a new one. View full article »

As Ryan & I decide on our best choice for transportation to & from our Ripples homestead in the future, we have many factors to consider.  The midwest isn’t necessarily the best place to own an electric vehicle, for one thing.  This infographic from CarInsurance.org fascinated me, and pushed me further in the direction of starting a car or truck co-operative among friends to share costs and avoid owning a personal vehicle that wouldn’t be used as often. What do you think? View full article »

Driving is more than a drag on your wallet.

Check out this amazing graphic given to us by College@Home!  Ripples supports alternative transportation options like walking, bicycling, skateboarding, and public transportation (to name a few) that save you money and improve overall health. Thanks Jen for sharing this with us!

View full article »

A photo tour from home into town, through woods, fields, alleys, and streets.

Gateway into the woods along a deer path

I did get a picture of the many robins I saw along the walk, but they all came out like little brown blurry spots because as soon as I snapped the photo they would take off, and I don’t have a high-tech camera.  But it’s still a robin’s neighborhood, thus the name of this post.  Walk with me as I go from our door into town! View full article »

Seeking out alternative transportation for a car-free lifestyle choice.

“And the rain rain rain came down down down…”

Some of my favorite moments from Winnie-the-Pooh are during the flood scene, when Piglet writes a message and throws it out the window, and Pooh uses a honey jar to float along to Christopher Robin’s house.  Now that’s alternative transportation! But a bit too extreme for us, as we don’t fit into a honey jar.  So what can we do when it’s raining for days and days, and Ryan’s commute to Ozark Natural Foods is 2 hours per day walking (in rainy weather) and 45 minutes bicycling?  Shouldn’t there be another alternative to car ownership, rather than walking one hour to work an 8-hour shift and walk one hour back home with wet feet? View full article »

When I open a conversation with someone about building codes in the northwest Arkansas region, it is highly likely I’ll hear the two following statements:

  1. “You should build in Madison or Newton county.  They have almost no building regulations.”
  2. “Don’t build in Washington or Benton county.  You’ll never get around the codes.”

When nudged for details, however, almost every person responds with “that’s just what I’ve heard.”   The story seems so simple, so black and white, that we have almost bowed to the undefined authorities and accepted that, if we want to achieve our dreams while still maintaining a connection to Fayetteville, we’ll have to find a way to do some hardcore commuting.

However, it’s hard for me to accept something without knowing why; there are so many unclear details!  This link claims, in bold, that Washington County does not issue building permits.  Does this mean that a couple could comfortably be septic-system free, raise animals, dig cisterns, protect habitat, and more as an owner of land in unincorporated Washington County?

I eventually got in touch with the Washington County Senior planner, who would probably have the ability to easily answer all of these questions.  I’m hoping she’s super busy, though, because she has yet to respond to our, shall we say, unorthodox questions (it has been two weeks to the day).  Is it weird to ask if a county allows for composting toilets?  In ten or fifteen years’ time, probably not, but perhaps now it still raises an eyebrow or two.

All I know so far is, Washington County regulates splitting of land, wind turbines, and agricultural land use.  I don’t know how it does these things, but none of these should interfere with our dreams… as long as we’re outside of any particular city’s limits.  If we actually wanted to build in Fayetteville, there is a veritable mountain of code to adhere to.  Friends assure me that 60% or 70% of it would not apply to us, but the same friends also have spent hundreds of hours pouring over thick texts laden with city requirements.  I’m not sure devoting that kind of time can be in my immediate future.

If no similar documents or requirements exist for unincorporated Washington County, and if the Fayetteville area doesn’t go all densely metropolitan (which usually leads to defiling huge amounts of natural resources for miles around the city space), we might do well to settle as close as possible.

No matter where we settle, a few questions remain:  What exactly does “no building permits” mean?  Does this just apply to our actual dwelling, and have nothing to do with how we make use of our land?  Also, what if we’re chillin’ a few miles outside of Fayetteville city limits, and then they swoop in and want to annex our lands?  Will we have some kind of weird, paper-heavy, bureaucratic fight on our hands?  Would we be pressured to adhere to the codes of the “conquerors?”  How does this stuff work?

And that’s where my understanding currently stands.  Any ideas?

The journey continues!

~Ryan

Stuff and Raw Ingenuity

As much as we want to assassinate every mote of clutter lurking around our house, we recognize that a healthy, carefully selected array of real-world items will charge our dreams with meaning and purpose.  I’m particularly excited to exercise my creativity in actually fashioning many of these items.  Did you see Amanda’s previous post featuring the 100+ ways to use wooden pallets to craft anything from small tables to whole houses?  What untapped, unrecognized potential nestles in the bottles, cans, cardboard boxes, and hundreds of other “trash” goods we throw away every day?  Heck, TerraCycle has crafted an $8 million+ global business off of random junk. View full article »