Scavenger Life Episode 78: A New Years Pledge of Abundance

In this episode Wendy reveals the book she has been working on that is focused on taking back your time to improve your quality of life. Wendy and Mikey explain their lifestyle choices and how they became ebay sellers, which helped them meet the goal of abundance over wealth. Wendy's book entitled "The Good Life Lab" is available through Amazon and in most stores and is a guide to abundance through living hands on with help from the waste stream. Also check out their Holy Scrap blog documenting their New Mexico homestead.

Direct .mp3 link. Direct ogg vorbis link.


  1. I really liked this episode. Its funny that we never knew each other in NYC but instead met out in the desert. It's funny that eBay solved for now the missing link in our new lifestyle. What a weird fun life.

  2. Thanks for sharing your personal story Mikey and Wendy. I'm looking forward to reading your blog and getting your book (hopefully a 2nd hand copy on ebay....;) I loved the story of how you met.

  3. Love this podcast. We came to ebaying almost a year ago. I was selling some of my husband's old toys so that we could afford to send our daughter to a summer dance program she had been accepted into. When the toys were gone, we started scouting garage sales and thrift stores for more inventory. We soon realized that there really wasn't much that we needed or wanted that we couldn't find secondhand for a fraction of the price. It's our new lifestyle.

  4. Great idea for a book - will check it out. What you said about "the cost of a job" had a familiar ring to it. I've always thought about it in terms of the cost of money. Ask anyone who knows about economics, and they'll tell you know that money is this incredibly useful invention, because it saves us from the inefficiency of having to barter. But I think money is only as good as the system it gives you access to. And the system itself has becomes very inefficient - and dirty, and indifferent to what we actually want from it. So is the money as useful as we'd like it to be? If not, then we're probably paying too much to get it - too much time, job stress, uncertainty, etc.

  5. So good we listened to this episode twice! Lol

    What a great story on how Mikey and Wendy met. Would love to see this story turned into a movie.

    Definitely going to check out Wendy's book. Best episode yet !

    1. Found a copy on Amazon for $3.79, overstocked store, great deal so can't wait to get it. I used your amazon link so I hope you get credit for the sale.

  6. Wendy, Mikey:

    I listened to podcast #78 today. Since I have listened to all of the E.S. podcasts I was aware that all 4 of you had made the decision to live a more scavenger-type of lifestyle. I’m certainly not going to tell you how to live your life and you sound quite happy so good for you.

    I do have one issue with what you have stated though. You depict corporations as horrible entities that pollute rivers and have other negative attributes. I couldn’t disagree with you more strenuously on this point. Here are a few of my reasons.

    1. A business entity doesn’t have to be huge to be incorporated. Many seemingly small and medium sized businesses are incorporated.

    2. You make it sound like corporations are destroying the environment and the lives of their
    employees while sole proprietorships and partnerships are ethically pure and don’t cause pollution. This is a ridiculous concept.

    3. In my opinion, the economy works best when we have robust business entities across all of these business entities. I won’t go into the details, but each business entity has strengths and weaknesses that can be utilized to provide an advantage.

    4. It sounds like you (Wendy and Mikey) had corporate jobs with very poor work-life balance. That’s unfortunate, I would not have appreciated that type of position either. I consider it ludicrous to assume all corporate jobs require this commitment.

    5. You state that you left corporate jobs because it was undesirable. However, you’re still working corporate jobs! You are working for Ebay and Amazon (book sales). Both of these business entities are corporations.

    6. I work for a Fortune 500 corporation, in I.T. and appreciate many of the opportunities that my employer provides. I’ve been fortunate to receive considerable training and the opportunity to work on projects that I have allowed me to learn a great deal. I have considerable vacation, health benefits and I am able to work from home 1 day a week. I realize you work from home or wherever on any day you work. Good for you.

    7. You scoff at the value of pensions and retirement accounts making it sound like they are worthless. Yes, many pensions have not provided the desired benefit. However, if you aren’t planning on building some kind retirement nest egg then you are most likely going to require tax payers to provide for you when you are too old to earn a living. That’s not a responsible plan for retirement and certainly not fair to future generations of Americans.

    Hope I’m not too hard on you. I do enjoy your podcasts and good luck to Wendy on her book.

    1. I'm not going to answer for Mikey and Wendy but Ill throw in my two cents. For me, I saw corporate work as a dead end. I couldn't imagine myself doing it for the rest of my life. I also was disappointed by how little loyalty businesses had to their employees. The days of pensions are over; it's never been possible in my generation. 401k plans are a poor excuse for a retirement when it depends on an ever unstable stock market (see 2008). Being an employee always made me feel helpless and dependent.

      eBay and Amazon are certainly large corporations, but my relationship to them now is much different than being a salaried or hourly employee. I use them to sell scavenged goods. If they become a problem, trust me...another site will pop up where we can sell. These corporations depend on us more than we depend on them (thank you internet).

      If you love your job and find it enriching, then hats off to you. I think this is great.

  7. Hi Anonymous and thanks for taking the time to write. A few notes in reply…

    You are correct, businesses and corporations are not the same. A critical difference between them is that corporations have a legally binding contract with their shareholders. This contract essentially says that they will make all decisions based on one thing, increasing profit, in spite of the cost to life that comes from those decisions. The only thing that can prevent a corporation from choosing what is destructive to life in all of its actions, are organizations with the power to stop them, groups like the EPA etc. So the very model of what a corporation is by definition, sets them up to be destructive.

    Today the measure of a healthy economy is continual growth. When you consider that the planet itself and everything on it, mineral, metal, fiber, wood etc, is a limited resource, the model of continual growth can only work for so long. In other words we cannot have a healthy economy and healthy planet under capitalism.

    4. It sounds like you (Wendy and Mikey) had corporate jobs with very poor work-life balance. …

    Both Mikey and me had a pretty high quality work life. I was a partner in a successful company. I made my own hours, set my own terms and it was my job to work with stimulating creative people. I was a creative director for a marketing company. What turned me away from it was that I wished to do more than use creative talent (visual artists, musicians etc) to commodify life by using creativity to make compelling ad campaigns. I wondered what a decommodified life might look like.

    5. You state that you left corporate jobs … You are working for Ebay and Amazon (book sales). Both … corporations.

    We don't work for them, but we use their tools. I use Ebay as a tool to help me turn would be waste (stuff I find at yard sales) into goods that people wish to have and will treasure. This keeps waste out of the landfill and slows down the new buying of goods that have a cost to life.

    My book is another story. I could have self published and reached a small amount of people. I weighed that against working with a publisher and reaching many. Since I thought the messages in my book were helpful to life, I chose the later.

    Everyone alive today is part of the problem and solution. Right now for example I produce my own PV Solar power for my home. I use it to run machine made tools that had a cost to life to produce and I use those tools to build out of waste so that I don't put new demand on the world's natural resources. We're all learning to find new more sustainable ways to live and it will take time.

    6. I work for a Fortune 500 corporation, in I.T. and appreciate many …

    Some people do their best working for and with others. I wonder though about the impact that corporation has on the life of this world? How empowered are you to have an affect on that?

    7. You scoff at the value of pensions and retirement accounts …

    I would not say worthless, I would say unstable. Because I made a leap away from the “system” I have to figure out some things anew. What’s important about this is our trusting ourselves, our talent, our creativity. I know that I will be able to secure a way to live into the future, even if I cannot see it yet. My point was that we ought not make compromises for this seeming security. We ought to trust ourselves.

    Many thanks. I really appreciate the comments. It is a wonderful and important conversation.

  8. I guess I still feel compelled to respond to your comments. When you say, “corporations are legally bound to their shareholders”, I would agree that they are. That’s a wonderful thing. You don’t have to be a railroad baron or a steel magnate to participate in the profits of large corporations. My elderly mother is allowed to participate in the profits and losses of large and small companies and she is far from wealthy.

    You state, “The only thing that can prevent a corporation from choosing what is destructive to life in all of its actions, are organizations with the power to stop them, groups like the EPA, etc.”. The EPA and other similar organizations don’t just oversee corporations. If Wendy and Mickey’s Car Repair Service were dumping used anti-freeze into a river and the EPA found out about it I doubt they would just allow you to continue the practice since you’re not incorporated.

    The corporation that I work for, and it is a rather sizeable one has been listed on the Ethisphere Institute's "World's Most Ethical Companies" list for the past 7 consecutive years.

    This corporation also has a philanthropic arm that provides scholarships, donates money to assist in the recovery of natural disasters and also assists subsistence farmers in Africa with water pumps and other agricultural related expertise and equipment. According to you this isn’t possible because corporations are only focused on increasing profits at the expense of all other endeavors.

    I’m certain I won’t change your mind, nor you will change mine. Perhaps we both have something to consider. However, saying all corporations are destructive is like saying all persons of one race or religion are evil. In my opinion that is an absurd statement.

    1. semantics aside, whether you work for a corporation, a non-profit, a foundation, an LLC, it could be argued that you have less freedom of time and creativity than if you work for yourself.

      i have been employed by several non-profits and foundations, the biggest being WGBH the PBS affiliate in Boston. whether i believed their mission to be worthy or not, i had less freedom of time and personal creativity than i do now working for myself and being a freelancer/ ebay scavenger.

      however, if you find your work to be rewarding, regardless of who your employer is, that's wonderful. i have many times wished for a job like that, but was never able to find it fully on my terms. that is why i sit here on a frigid 0 degree day, by the woodstove, listing jackets and sweaters, taking offers and making money. it works for me but it might not work for everyone

    2. I certainly have no problem with your choice. Enjoy!

  9. Loved this episode!!! Thanks for sharing!