Holy Scrap

New Mexico / May 24, 2012 / by The Team

Wendy Tremayne and Mikey Sklar left their conventional lives in New York City six years ago to move to the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. They had increasingly been feeling the tension between their lives in the city, their jobs and their desire to start more projects, such as welding and gardening that were less than convenient in their city lives. 

They decided that they wanted to ‘decommodify’ their lives, relying less on the cycle of commercialism they felt was too omnipresent in their lives. 

Decommodification means different things to different people but the essence of the idea is, as Tremayne explains, “really about finding our essential nature, becoming what we actually are, but what’s been covered over by a civilization.” 

Sklar designs open-source hardware, which he sells from their homestead in T or C, as the town is known to those who live there, and Tremayne teaches yoga among other activities. Their lifestyle itself is a full-time job. 

They make their own cheese, wine, fuel and grow their own vegetables. They also have solar panels that provide them with 95% of their power needs.

Truth or Consequences is a town that naturally lends itself to the decommodified lifestyle. People are ready to barter and share knowledge in a way that large cities cannot afford. The couple has met and encouraged people to learn from their own experiences through their teaching of self-sufficiency. 

Melissa and Scott McKinstry are a couple who now spend their winters in Truth or Consequences. They moved to T or C after falling in love with area and are now learning from Tremayne and Sklar about how to live a more decommodified life. 

For Melissa, decommodifying means “living with less, living with the least you can” and they are learning how to do so by watching how Tremayne and Sklar live their lives. 

Tremayne and Sklar hold regular workshops and parties with friends where they teach other how to make their own wine, fuel and other homestead necessities. They share their own experiences and knowledge with the wider world, too, on their blog, Holy Scrap. 

Tremayne also started an organization called Swap-O-Rama-Rama to encourage people to recycle their clothes. Swap-O-Rama-Ramas are held across the country and the world. They are events where people can bring their unwanted cloths and swap them with those brought by other participants. 

The aim of the Swap-O-Rama-Rama is more than to swap clothes though. There are also workshops help for people to learn how to update, modify and customize either their own old clothes or those they have collected from swapping. 

There are workshops on how to alter, embroider and repair clothes, with all the necessary equipment and there are also classes in more advanced techniques like knitting, crocheting and silk screening. 

The aim of the Swap-O-Rama-Rama meetings is to see greater value in possessions than is usually given to them. It is also about sharing knowledge - swapping not only clothes but the information that can help people make more of them and create new from old. 

While the couple’s lifestyle might seem extreme to some, they show that there is a lot a person can do to make themselves less dependent on commercialism in their daily lives. There is only so much a person can do while living in a city or working a job nine to five, but there are steps that every person can make in their lives that would both benefit the environment and their own lives. 

“By becoming buyers of things instead of makers of things, the thing we’ve given away essentially is our knowledge, our intelligence, our ability to understand the world,” says Tremayne, and it is their goal to regain just those things. 

For more information about Swap-O-Rama-Rama, visit the website. You can see the Holy Scrap blog here.