Paul Mobbs/MEI site:   Main Index   About   Current   Writings   Archive   Musings   Ecolonomics   Other   Contact

Paul Mobbs &
Mobbs' Environmental Investigations –

Work Archive –
Themes Index:

Simplicity/Less

I've worked primarily with community groups for many years – mostly in the UK, but also in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The materials produced from that work have relevance not just to the people who commissioned them, but many other communities too. For that reason I maintain an on-line archive of my work.

For details of the licensing restrictions on using these resources, see the Copyright and Sharing page.

Work Archive:
'Themes' Index

Articles

Handouts

Infographics

Media Coverage

Podcasts

Presentations

Ramblinactivist

Reports/Research

Themes

Activism

Climate

Cyberwarfare

Ecological Limits

Energy

FLOSSH

'Fracking'

Hacktivism

Nuclear

'Outdoors'

Peace

Permaneering

Planning

Pollution/Waste

Simplicity/Less

Quakerism

Video and Audio

There is a simple way to drastically cut your emissions and ecological footprint, well beyond the ideas outlined by mainstream environmental groups – consume much less. There is a direct relationship between consumption, the demand for energy and resources, and environmental pollution. Changing your lifestyle and consuming less, rather than just changing the source of what you consume, is the most effective way to cut your ecological footprint.

The problem with conveying this idea is two-fold: firstly, being contrary to the mainstream dialogue over consumption and growth, consuming less challenges many values held sacrosanct by society; secondly, and more directly, having "less", or seeking a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle, conspicuously marks people out as 'different'.

From my many years working on this issue I've realized another problematic fact; working on this subject doesn't win you any popularity contests either. However, that doesn't stop the ecological arguments at the heart of this issue being right, or invalidate the hard scientific truth that constant growth within a finite environment is not possible.


The 'Simplicity/Less' Theme

inc image Ramblinactivist 8/17: 'Transgression and Change... and Rambling'

10/11/2017

Change requires transgressing existing norms and practices. Far from being a crime, if you take the time to understand how the system works you can find ways where the law can enable you to make change through making the system fight itself – creating new opportunities for action through the nature of those contradictions. For me, the way into learning these techniques was walking and accessing the countryside – or rather, try to do so. What's important is to find your own particular interest, take time to discover how you might use the law to enable that, and then create opportunities for change by seeking to make those paper-based "legal rights" something tangible in the real world.

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 8/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel



inc image Ramblinactivist 7/17: 'Autumn Blackberry and Apple Pie – Welcoming the Autumn with a forage'

29/09/2017

The sudden arrival of a lot of fruit requires some action to deal with it. I decide to go and forage for blackberries on the edge of town to provide a little extra 'wild' nutrition. In this short video I outline the law on foraging, and how to pick blackberries, and then take you through the process of cooking a very simple apple and blackberry turnover – which in this case I'll store in the freezer ready to cook in order to make the fruit last into the Winter months.

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 7/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel



inc image Ramblinactivist 6/17: 'The Free Range Weekend Firepit'

14/07/2017

At the end of a Free Range Network Gathering in West Wales we relax around the fire. The just waning full moon goes hazy as the cloud closes in, and as the temperature falls the mists rise. Then Tim blows dige as we meditate on the flames, the flickering lighting up the mist around the leafy hollow we're enclosed within. All's well :-)

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 6/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel



inc image Ramblinactivist 5/17: 'Summer Solstice, with Subtitles'

05/07/2017

Come with me on an early morning, Solstice walk... I had so many things to think about, given it was a rare chance to get out for a walk. In the end, my mind just shut down and enjoyed the view. Sometimes it's necessary just to shut up and listen – hence the subtitles. To simple be, rather than 'being'. That's the essence of marking certain days by reconnecting with nature. It's not for experience of some other, perceived 'natural' time; it's for the change in perspective it brings amidst our distracted lives.

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 5/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel



inc image Ramblinactivist 4/17: 'The Free Range 'Feral' Stick-Fire Cooking Grate'

14/06/2017

Cooking outdoors is a fun skill to learn to expand your ecological awareness and personal resilience. Cook well outdoors from fresh or foraged food, and you can cook well anywhere. Problem is, where do you find the 'ecologically sound'/fossil-fuel free kit? The Free Range Stick-Fire Cooking Grate is a small, light-weight, trestle-style cooking grate designed to burn small sticks which, with a few tools and components, you can easily build yourself.

file icon Youtube channel
This 'ramblinactivist' video shows the process of building and using the grate – enjoying an evening not just 'out in the sticks', but 'cooking with sticks too.

file icon Design handout
For the detailed design information, and background on the use of the grate and land law in England and Wales, see the design handout on the Free Range Activism Website

file icon Mobbsey's Musings: 'Taking the Fossil Fuels out of Camp Cooking'
The are some innocuous uses of fossil fuels which go largely unnoticed. One such example is camping outdoors. Camping shops sell a variety of stoves fuelled by gas, liquid petrol or methanol, or chemical-based solid fuel compounds. Thing is, if you're outdoors, is the use of fossil fuels necessary?
1.8 megabytes



inc image The Free Range Do-It-Yourself 'Feral' Stick-Fire Cooking Grate

14/06/2017

Cooking outdoors is a fun skill to learn to expand your ecological awareness and personal resilience. Cook well outdoors from fresh or foraged food, and you can cook well anywhere. Problem is, where do you find the 'ecologically sound'/fossil-fuel free kit? The Free Range Stick-Fire Cooking Grate is a small, light-weight, trestle-style cooking grate designed to burn small sticks which, with a few tools and components, you can easily build yourself.

file icon design/construction handout
3.3 megabytes

file icon A3 summary poster
1.2 megabytes



inc image Ramblinactivist 3/17: 'Hummus and mindfulness – Skills, resilience and relaxation beyond consumerism'

18/05/2017

We all have to consume; it's a necessary reality of existence. However, in the 'Consumer Society' the most radical thing you can do is not to consume 'as directed' – by finding alternative options that meets your needs while enacting a set of principles in opposition to that overbearing and exploitative economic paradigm. This principle was self-evident during one of Britain's darkest consumer crises of late... 'the hummus shortage'.

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 3/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel

file icon goto Mobbsey's Musings article
read the article accompanying the video
1.7 megabytes



inc image Mobbsey's Musings: 'Mobile Phones, WiFi and Cancer – Will Trump's budget cuts zap ground-breaking 'electrosmog' research?'

14/03/2017

Amidst concern over President Trump's emasculation of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and cuts to the USA's climate research, other ground-breaking areas of environmental research are being ignored. For well-over a decade, at a cost of $25 million, a US National Toxicology Program study has been assessing the links between the use of mobile phones and rare, though increasing forms of cancer. Unfortunately, before the results of this study are published, it may be 'lost' in the coming cuts.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
110.6 kilobytes



inc image Ramblinactivist 2/17: "The Ignored Pollutant" – Noise, Health and Ecopsychology

03/03/2017

A few days ago I went for a walk, well before the dawn, in order to listen to the 'dawn chorus'. It's something I like to do a few times a year, especially in the early Spring when the birdsong is at its loudest. I've been doing these walks since before my teens. Over that period there's been one inescapable change in the countryside around my home town of Banbury – noise.

file icon goto Ramblinactivist's video blog 2/17
watch the video on the 'ramblinactivist' Youtube channel

file icon goto Mobbsey's Musings article
read the article accompanying the video
1.9 megabytes



inc image "Less" (is a Four Letter Word) – Economics, Ecological Limits and Politics

2015

These are the slides from the 'new, improved' "Less is a Four-Letter Word" presentation. This version looks more towards the contradictions between the biophysical and conventional economic view of the world – and how the increasing prescience of the 'Limits to Growth' reports portends a future where existing economic rules become more dysfunctional.

file icon presentation slides
3.4 megabytes



inc image On-line activism and digital technology – From surveillance to our ecological footprint

30/07/2014

Today we live in a wonderful world where anti-corporate activists can use their smart-phones and Twitter accounts to battle the corporate beast; where climate activists use global on-line information systems to help people chart their carbon footprint; and where social media allows people to click a button to ask their elected representatives to "save the planet"... Does no one else see the cruel irony here?

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
76 kilobytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.14: 'Fracking' our food and farming system: "Extreme agriculture" and the politics of denial

18/04/2014

As we approach the ecological limits to growth, and the measures to maintain "business as usual" become even more extreme, so these technofixes have as much to do with the denying those limits as they are intended to provide more food. The problem with the debate over fracking is that it has become highly insular. It focusses on drilling, or pollution; and fails to make the wider connection to the issues of lifestyle and resources which – arguably – represent the deeper motivation behind the political support for extreme energy sources. The same is true of the current debate over farming. We argue about one form of agriculture versus another, or one type of consumer product or another; without reference to the wider patterns of lifestyle which predetermine the form of that discussion. In contrasting fracking and food, I hope to highlight – through the commonality in underlying causal factors – the wider analysis which we need to being to the ecological debate.

file icon HTML version
385.7 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
298.2 kilobytes



inc image The "Limits to Technology": The annotated workshop/presentation slides

2011

"Limits to Technology" examines the role of resource depletion and the ecological limits to human society's future use of "technological systems" – a broad term covering not only our use of computers and mobile technologies, but also the electronics, metals and chemical components of everyday goods and products, and the latest "green technologies". Like the human system in general, our use of technology is subject to certain resource specific limits; by understanding these limits, and how they affect us all, we can address our minds to devising new ways to live our lives in an inevitably more resource-constrained future.

file icon annotated slides
3.1 megabytes

file icon presentation slides
3 megabytes



inc image The Simple Future Beyond Oil

June 2010

The convergence of our economic and ecological futures and the importance of change – a presentation for the Adderbury Gathering, Sunday 13th June 2010. We are living through "interesting times"; credit crises, recession and rising debt threaten to destabilise nation states. What we need to understand is the way human ecology works within these natural physical processes, how the contradictions between human systems and these natural processes define what is "unsustainable", and what this means for our future as we adjust to the natural limitations of our environment.

file icon download handout
443 kilobytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.6: "A man sits down to write a letter but instead he writes a book, the book begins 'Dear Sir'"

13/10/2009

So many things that need to be said but often we can't; not because we lack the terms or evidence to describe them but because such a message isn't something that "our leaders and betters", and sometimes even ourselves, wish to hear. Like the game Chinese whispers, the message of the human ecological crisis has been edited and sub-edited to the point where the commonly used terms that describe the problem, and likely solutions, have little relevance to the original diagnosis; in particular, what started as the concerns of environmentalists in the 1970s, regarding the impacts of human society on the planet, have now been reduced to mere "carbonism" – a reduction of the complexity of human ecology to an issue of carbon or climate change being our principle problem, and a belief that we can solve the global climate crisis through simple, deck-chair re-arranging measures such as "low carbon technologies". The fact is we might have the capacity to address such problems realistically, and we might conceive of alternative ways of ministering to society's needs, but the unfortunate reality is that those in charge of the public debate do not wish to contemplate what this truly means to the lifestyles of the world's richest citizens. In possessing that knowledge do you, yourself, internalise the significance of that deduction into a programme of action, irrespective of what that means for you personally; or do you skip over the problematic evidence because it might adversely affect the "Western lifestyle" that we enjoy, and therefore cannot be considered a "politically realistic" way of characterising the problem?

file icon HTML version
289.5 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
461 kilobytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.4: The "green-Prometheans"; better, but still a futile gesture?

12/09/2009

An intellectual debate where a whole set of questions or positions are excluded from public examination is not a real discourse, it's a distraction to deflect criticism from the ideological viewpoints that constrain society. From the structure of building codes through to global climate negotiations, governments and lobbyists put emphasis on markets, or the marshalling of large resources – both vestiges of early industrialisation – to solve problems; but what if the true solution lay beyond this boundary? What if it's that very same structure of globalised markets and the growth paradigm that underpins their operation were to be the problem that we must solve? If the problem is the structure of modern society, and especially the global economy, how can "mainstream ideas" possibly solve the underlying trends driving the destruction of the Earth's ecosystem; more to the point, if these ideas work within this system to what extent will they perpetuate it?

file icon HTML version
96.7 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
269.1 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet S3: Simplicity Solutions – Why "less" can mean "more"

October 2008

Peak Energy will affect all our lives, but it is only one in a number of trends that are converging to make life difficult; debt, housing costs and climate change will also negatively affect our lives over the next two or three decades. There is a solution that is able to address many of these problems, but in today's "modern" society it's considered too extreme to advocate: voluntary simplicity.

file icon HTML web page version
25.4 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
117 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
116.8 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet S2: Transformation – Change your Consciousness

October 2008

The lesson we must draw from energy depletion is the need for a change in lifestyle, not a change of energy supplier. That's a very personal process of how we re-arrange our homes, our work and our lives. It begins by working on your "head space", because you must be able to understand and commit to the process of change if you are going to achieve long-term changes in your life in the face of great difficulties. But it's also important to network with others, and in particular, to press the urgency for change within your own social networks.

file icon HTML web page version
14.9 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
77.3 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
77.2 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet S1: Limits to Growth – Why the Only Solution is "Less"

October 2008

The Laws of Thermodynamics cannot be changed – if we don't have the energy we need we are unable to carry out the work we want to. Consequently, as we face a peak in global energy supply, there is only one realistic option: We have to use "less" energy, and consume "less" resources.

file icon HTML web page version
35.5 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
153.9 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
152.1 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet F1:

October 2008

Wild food is an increasingly popular issue, being perceived as either a 'free' source of food or something that we can enjoy as a form of 'gastro-recreation'. From the work of John Seymour and Richard Mabey in the 70's, to the more recent TV programmes of Ray Mears and Bear Grylls, food foraging is promoted as an improving outdoor activity. But this approach often misses one of the most important points – wild food isn't an end in itself, but it's something that we can integrate into our existing food sourcing and preparation activity to add diversity and character to our diet.

file icon HTML web page version
26.9 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
134.4 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
134.2 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet E10: Energy and Transport – Re-designing our need to get around

October 2008

Although transport is the average individual's third largest use of energy (after food and housing), the transport sector is the largest user of energy in the UK economy. Peak Oil will hit the transport sector first, and hardest. This briefing looks at how energy depletion will affect our transport system and the underlying problems with our demand for transport today.

file icon HTML web page version
30.7 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
151.6 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
141.6 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet E8: Energy, Food and Agriculture – The importance, and costs, of food security

October 2008

There is only one source of energy that is essential to the humans; it's not coal, oil or natural gas – it's food! This briefing looks at the importance of food, our dependence upon cheap fossil fuels for its production, and how Peak Energy threatens our increasingly technological food supply.

file icon HTML web page version
38 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
154.9 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
150.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet E7: Resources and Waste – Addressing Consumption and Waste

October 2008

Waste and recycling is an energy issue; It takes energy to create the resources we routinely buy and dispose of every day. If we handle waste badly it's not just a source of pollution and nuisance, it's a waste of energy and resources. We have to mange waste according its value as a resource, and a sink of energy that must be avoided, not merely as a "problem" that we have to get rid of.

file icon HTML web page version
28.5 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
129.4 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
123.6 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet E6: Homes and Efficiency – Understanding How We Use Energy

October 2008

Judging by the media, we might think that the greatest energy offender in the UK was our homes. This isn't the case. Our homes do account for a small, but significant, part of national energy consumption, but if we are to adapt to Peak Energy we must be able to see the scale of household consumption into the context of total consumption, and then work to reduce it in the future.

file icon HTML web page version
46.7 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
220.3 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
175.7 kilobytes

file icon References/information PDF



inc image Free Range Sheet E3: Energy in the UK – Putting consumption into perspective

October 2008

As well as looking at energy consumption within the UK it's also important to look at how the UK compares to other states – in order to give some scale to the situation in the UK. This sheet looks at energy trends in the UK compared to other states, and how energy use in the UK has changed in the past, and how it might change in the future.

file icon HTML web page version
54.5 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
225.8 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
195.7 kilobytes



inc image The "Less is a Four Letter Word" Presentation

2008

The 'Less is a Four Letter Word' presentation was developed in 2005 for the Free Range Network. It follows on from the 'Energy Beyond Oil' (EBO) presentation, picking up where EBO leaves off, it starts with the simple question, "logically, if we're going to have to use less, how do we do it?". Problematically this collides with the primary obstruction to planning meaningful change – economic growth.

file icon "Less is a Four Letter Word" – presentation slides
1.3 megabytes

file icon "Less is a Four Letter Word" – annotated slides
2 megabytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.6: Use Your Loaf – Bake Your Own!

September 2004

Can you trust the bread you buy to be wholesome and not to cause you health problems? As with so many other of the industrialised foods we buy today – like eggs, beef and chicken – it now appears that the development of industrial bread might be storing up health problems for the future. The simplest solution... bake your own!

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
192.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Bulletin 04/1: Use Your Loaf! – The Problems With Industrial Bread

September 2004

In October 2004, the Baker's Federation in the UK will be holding its third British Bread Month. However, rather than celebrating the excellent bread produced by British craft bakers, it is in reality a large promotional exercise for industrial bread – a mass produced product that is reliant on various biochemical processes developed over the last forty years rather than on the skills of bakers developed over the last few centuries. So what, in reality, is industrial bread?

file icon download resource PDF
247 kilobytes



inc image "If the answer's wind turbines, someone asked the wrong question"

November 2003

How far is the vision of renewable energy presented to us by campaign groups a reality? To put it another way, are the activities of the mainstream environmental pressure groups to promote sustainable energy compromised by their need to promote it? And do these groups, and political leaders, really address the most important issue? – in 10 years oil will be running out.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1 megabytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.5: Grow Your Own Food

October 2003

With a few basic ideas for establishing 'own-grown' methods to produce your own food at low cost, this guide looks at the basic requirements for growing food, and considers some of the options for how you might be able to do so. The aim of the guide is not to tell you how to grow food. There are plenty of books around that already do that. Instead, it looks at some of the issues you need to consider before embarking on 'own-grown' gardening.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
111.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.3: Buying Collectively

October 2003

Developing a network of contacts to buy goods collectively to save money and improve choice

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
67.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.2: Switching to Low Energy Lights

October 2003

Changing your light bulbs saves energy and can cut your electricity bill.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
61.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.1: Beyond the Throw-away Battery

October 2003

Save money using rechargeable batteries and using main power supplies for portable equipment – and in the process save waste an pollution.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
74 kilobytes