Agriculture and Sustainability,  Lifestyle,  Waste

Feature: Jo Low Impact on moneyless, low impact living in northern NSW, Australia

I read about Jo Nemeth in an article online. I was absolutely amazed by her efforts to live a low impact life and in fact, utterly jealous. Jo lives without money in a tiny house in Northern New South Wales, Australia. I was thrilled when I reached out and she agreed to let me feature her! Read the interview below and be inspired just as I was by Jo’s way of life. You can read more about it on her blog here.

Feature Interview: Jo Low Impact

You have been living without money since 2015, what was the initial reason for this change?

I made the decision to try living without money in 2014 after reading about moneyless, low impact living in a book called Changing Gears. I had been feeling too helpless and overwhelmed about the impacts I was having through long supply chains on people and ecosystems all over the world. I was also finding the ‘chasing my tail trying to make ends meet’ lifestyle unsustainable as a long term prospect. These things collided in Feb 2014 and I felt so strongly compelled to make the leap that I immediately resolved to start my new life in 2015 once my daughter was through high school and set up safely in her own life.

After living without money for well over two years have your reasons for living this lifestyle changed at all?

My reasons for living a low impact, moneyless lifestyle have not changed but the need to do so has increased. I have had plenty of time to do more in-depth research on climate change and understand, with a lot more clarity now, just how desperate the situation humanity finds itself in really is. I feel so much more strongly about living a low carbon life – it really seems like the only option now.

Also, I can’t fathom how I could go back to living with money again. It would be very difficult to navigate that transition so I hope I can live this way for a lot longer.

Could you provide us with a list of basic swaps that you have made to live your new lifestyle? For example toilet paper with fabric.

  • Car for walking, hitching, cycling
  • My ‘own’ house (previously rented) for living in friend’s yards in little shacks and trying to be of assistance to them
  • Bought food for home-grown, rescued (from friends or supermarket bins), swapped for helping local organic market gardeners
  • Toilet paper for slightly marked serviettes collected by friends and washable fabric cloths for number ones

Is your place a tiny house? Where do you park and how did you make it? I am an absolute Tiny House nerd!

I lived my first moneyless year on a friend’s farm out of town in a little shack I built (with the help of several skilled friends), using mostly second-hand materials sourced locally.

shack and garden shot

The garden.

For the past year I have been living in town in a tiny house on wheels (THOW) I like to call my ‘little blue wagon’. This was built by my parents for a friend of mine. She didn’t use it because her plans changed and it was sitting around waiting to be loved. When I decided to try living in town I asked if it was available and both my friend and my parents agreed I could use it for as long as needed. When I no longer need it I will pass it back to my parents.

tiny house

The little blue wagon.

I’ve been in town for just over a year now. I’ve lived in the backyards of two friends in that time and as well as 3 months living with a very dear friend who lost her husband last year. When in town I get to spend more time with my daughter and friends but the call of the country is strong so I may move to a farm again in the not too distant future. I have had many offers of places to move my wagon to. I have gardening skills and can help with kids, cooking and other jobs. Many people like having someone around to help out in these ways. In return I get a place to live and grow food. It’s a win/win.

How do you get food and what type of meals do you eat?

I get food a number of ways. I have been bin diving at times – more for fun than out of necessity – but have mostly lived off food I’ve grown and ‘waste’ or excess food from friends. I have also been spending a lot of time floating around in recent months so will share with people I’m visiting and help them out while I’m there so it’s not just a one-way thing.

At home my meals are simple fare. I like to fry up some vegies with an egg or two or some toasted nuts on my rocket stove. I have asked for things like local rice and oats for my birthday so will sometimes use those to give me some extra nutrition. I find this kind of simple food agrees with me and I have more energy than I used to have when my diet was more complicated and full of bad stuff.

I read you have been eating native foods! What native foods specifically and do you forage for anything else?

I don’t often use native foods but, as a long-ago trained herbalist, I have some knowledge of edible weeds. I sometimes supplement my meals with things like plantain, dock, chickweed, dandelion, farmer’s friends, sow thistle leaves, etc. These are nutrient dense and easily accessible greens. I have also been able to ‘glean’ things like prickly pear, nuts, guava, lillypillies, mangoes, passion fruit, etc., that I come across in public places on my walks.

What do you do with your spare time? Do you have much or do you spend a lot of it maintaining your lifestyle?

I have a lot of spare time. These days I find myself visiting friends a lot. I find I can be useful to them and it meets my need to be interacting with others. I also spend quite a bit of time reading and researching the impacts of our Western lifestyle on the climate and the related social justice issues. I do this online at the homes of friends or at the local library. It takes very little time to maintain my home. At present I am still slowly building the garden beds in my friend’s yard where my wagon is.

I was tempted to ask what you missed the most but instead I’d love to know what the things are you miss the least?

The things I miss the least are the everyday stresses I once had – paying the bills, registering the car and constantly filling it with fuel, worrying about what might go wrong at work, trying to schedule time to see friends (and not really finding much time to do it), feeling helpless to make a real difference to my pollution levels and their associated destruction of the planet.


Pinterest Jo Low Impact - A tiny house on a farm

Wondering what steps you can take to live a lower impact lifestyle? Head to my zero waste archives to find inspiration like this DIY toothpaste and DIY newspaper bin liner!

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