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23 June 2009

The Change

I bring a message of hope. There are signs of change on the horizon. I noticed these signs about six months ago, as I'm sure many of you did, but thought they held little promise. However, it looks like things are different this time, this seems to be more deeply embedded in mainstream culture, and now I believe change is on the way. And the change is the belief of ordinary men and women that they can modify their materialist lifestyle to that of a more prudent and accountable one.

I remember back a couple of years ago when I heard a report about climate change and peak oil on the 6pm news. Well, that nearly flattened me. I was so surprised that the report was on, I called Hanno to see it. He probably thought I was a bit mad but there it was, what we'd been talking about for so long but in all that time I'd never heard one word of it on the mainstream media. Ha!, I thought, fancy that, never dreaming those reports would become commonplace in just a few short months.

And now on Oprah, I find that back in January an article called: Back to Basics, Living with Voluntary Simplicity. was featured in the O magazine. Far out! That is about as close to middle America as you can get. And in February she did a TV program on What can you live without?, in March, she did another on Simplify your Life. I mean no disrespect but America was the last major player to arrive at this change; European countries and some of the Commonwealth countries - Canada, NZ, Australia had been working towards cutting back, simplifying, gardening etc, well before the US, en masse, saw the need. However, I have always believed that without America, any change it would be short lived. The amount of wealth in America, coupled with the potential to spend it, as well as the amount of energy consumed there, made it imperative that the US saw the need for change as well. And it took the economic crisis to bring that change to the people.

Those of us who have lived this way for a few years would know that five years ago, the only literary references to living a simple life were in books and blogs. Now there are magazines and TV programs and all sorts of references in popular culture. I know mainstream media don't lead, they are followers, so it's very heartening to know they now providing what their audiences are asking for - more information about living more simply.

I'd be interested to know what you've seen in the popular media about cutting back, living within your means and being at home. I'm sure there's a lot more out there that I'm aware of. I don't buy magazines any more so things do pass me by. So tell me please, who is writing about what? I think we all have our favourite simple living blogs, so I'm not interested in blogs at the moment, what have you seen on TV, in newspapers and magazines? Please give us some links if you can so we can build up a point of reference that we can all read through as time allows.

Do you think, like I do, that the times they are a'chanin'? I have no doubt that when the economy improves, many of the new frugalistas will go back to spending but I think there are millions of people now who have seen that the grass can be greener on the other side of the fence and when they have more money to spend, they may not be tempted back. I think a genuine change has happened, do you?


  1. Like some of your other commentator, I'm a home-schooling mother. So, I don't 'work out' [outside of the home] and try to pick up odd bits of income here and there because I've often felt the pressure to do this from others including my husband.

    Anyhow, we moved to the city about 2 years ago, from a life of managing other people's farms. One of the things we decided that I would try to do is set up a sewing business again. I did this in University and made a pretty penny sewing bridal clothing for others.

    To my shock, my business has been good and steady... but it is all mending!

    I've repaired so many, many different kinds of things.

    But 7 years ago, I never would have imagined that a home sewing business would be just mending and no custom 'new' sewing!

    The other shocker, most of my clients are young and university age. (I live in a University city and in the centre of student housing).

    I simply love the fact that these students are often willing to pay $10 to get a zipper mended, or a patch put on their jeans, or something along that nature! And it simply pleases me that I can spend my time doing something that I know is good for this earth!

  2. I hope its a sign of change but I'm not so sure. I remember reading about voluntary simplicity when I graduated from college (17 years ago) and immediately grasping the concept and trying to follow it (I'm in the U.S.). However, I know I was looked at as odd and still am in some circles. My fear is that it's becoming "trendy" like the green movement which seems to be more about buying "earth-friendly" products than actually changing lifestyle. I hope I'm wrong - I actually used to be much more of an optmist than this comments portrays.

  3. Hi Rhonda,
    Superstore carries Mother Earth magazine. It's the last place I expected to find it!

  4. Well, I think it is a current "trendy" thing.... all the magazines have things like "Delicious budget meals that your family will love" I look at those budget meals and laugh... frugal? Really?? We have always been much more frugal than most and plan to stay that way. I haven't noticed any dramatic changes... the WalMart parking lots are still as crowded and the McDonald's drive through still has a long line. I think that people are being more frugal with big things.... however, I am a skeptic... not sure it will last. One thing I have noticed is more gardens... hope that continues.

  5. Hi Rhonda Jean
    OK, a little mental exercise before hitting the hay:
    Here in Sweden I must say I haven´t noticed any mainstream media coverage of simple living as a growing movement - and I do keep up with the news via radio, newspapers and the Internet. The population is only around the 9 million mark and there are only 2 national daily newspapers and 2 pretty trashy national evening papers. So in a way I feel that there is not a great variety in the items which hit the headlines.
    Sadly I would have to say that the Swedish population on the whole are trend followers. The best selling magazines are all about home styling and/or fashion.

    On the positive side, there is an increase in the number of younger couples with children opting to work fewer hours. Both parents can do this and most of the salary drop is covered by the generous parental allowances paid here. In most cases though families would opt for the mother working shorter hours. The reason being that often it is she who earns less.

    However, in spite of the generous subsidies, there would be many families who don´t cut down their working hours. The emphasis is on working hard and working long hours to forge a career path - both parents - and creating the trendy home and garden. Ambitious holiday plans are also a trend factor you "have to" follow.
    So I suspect we will have to wait for other countries to set this new trend so that the news trickles down even into our media sources.

    Re the USA - I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the No Smoking laws would catch on there. The USA is after all a country where personal freedom is a priority. But there you go - they showed the world. Go for it USA - show the rest of us how to set our sights on Simple Living.
    Ramona K

  6. I am seeing changes here in North Carolina (USA) where I live and I am actually working on a news story about the expansion of urban agriculture and gardening for a mainstream publication. I actually interviewed a man today who has been gardening in both his front and back yards for the past three years. He grows many varieties of fruit and veggies, including several types of berries and fruit trees. It's really amazing.

    Green living and sustainability have become such hot topics that I now get paid to report on this full-time, with some of it including a simple living angle.

  7. I live in the U.S. and homestead in the city. We garden and keep chickens, I make all our soaps, cook from scratch, and so on. But I am definitely the odd one out. Outside of the written media, there is very little (almost none) promotion of living lean. In fact, it's the opposite. We are being encouraged in every possible way to spend as much money as we can to help "turn the economy around." The message we are most strongly receiving is that if we do not spend, our economy will fail. Honestly, an economic collapse would probably be the best thing for us greedy, thick-headed Americans!
    "Living green" is highly promoted on TV, but usually in the form of advertisements. Such as, "Our [product] is worth paying three dollars more than the other leading brand because it's earth friendly."

  8. Hi Rhonda,

    I don't have any examples of info in mainstream media, just my two cents :).

    Women I have spoken to around my age are increasingly wanting to ditch their careers and stay at home and raise a family. This choice often automatically forces people to be less spendthrift. And of course, simple living automatically reduces our environmental impact.
    Like a previous commentors, I think it's trendy to be environmental and to be frugal and this trend will pass for many, but not all.

  9. As an American, I agree that we're late to the game, but we like our "stuff" and the ability to just GO GO GO! Now that I'm in my late 30's and raising 4 girls, I'm embrassing the simpler life to some degree. I still have to work full time, and can only do my 3 little garden plots, but I make my menu for the week, stick to it, and am working to pay off everything as fast as I can. I'm hoping though that this isn't just the latest fad and more people keep doing this. I must say though that in my suburban neighborhood many people still think it's cute that I'm gardening vegetables, although my students and the neighbor kids think it's great, and they also think that a friend of mine who has 2 electric cars is a little off as well. I've gotta go.... bought a bunch of corn at the farmer's market today and I have to blanche it for the freezer... I'm loving my simpler (although not totally simple) life. Kelly in SC

  10. Rhonda
    The USA used to produce cotton fabrics but now we have to buy from Japan, Indonesia, India among other countries. It seemed to cost to much to produce them here. But now the prices are skyrocketing. People in the US are poor consumers. By that I mean that they want everything and NOW. They are not willing to save or willing to wait. They buy cheaply made junk and watch their neighbors to make sure that they are not outdone. They would rather pay $200 for a clothes dresser to have it fall apart in a year and have to replace it then to pay $500 for a quality made last a lifetime USA made dresser. I could go on but you get the idea.
    I began making my own laundry detergent because I was sick of throwing plastics (detergent) in the landfills. I also enjoy doing those things. I took a container of liquid laundry detergent to my sister in law. She laughed at me and probably thought me quite mad. I also began using vinegar for rinsing the clothes.
    I make artesian bread for our evening meals but have found that we seem to be adding a few pounds, lol.
    I am not buying a lot of aerosols but I have never liked them. My daughters didn't appreciate that as they went thru hairspray by the case!
    I see more people packing their lunches.
    As far as my youngest child and his bride, they live very simply and frugally. She loves it when I give her the latest recipe or invite her over. She loved making soap with me since we both had read your blog on soap making.
    I only wish more people would try to change. I love this earth and hate to see so much waste. I want my great grand babies to live here and feel safe.
    Thanks Rhonda for letting me spout off, Elaine from Texas

  11. I hope it is not just a trend. But I think it might be. When I graduated college and got married a few years ago, I slowly discovered how to be frugal. It was not the way I was raised. I learned the ways to vinegar and baking soda. It was just so simple, easy and safe. I actually worried that the price of vinegar would go up as people discovered how amazing it is.

    But I was wrong. Vinegar has stayed the same price, but the old cleaners have just made themselves "more natural" and other natural cleaners have come on the market. I am the only person I know who makes cleaners. I think most must just buy the "natural" stuff. From what I can tell there has not been a life change for most people. Especially us young people.

    And I live in Boulder, CO. Hippie Central. Maybe I just don't know the right people . . .

    I have read many of the natural articles in magazines, but nothing really comes to mind. I do remember feeling disappointed after reading it though. I didn't feel like the articles offered me much helpful information.

  12. I agree with citysteader! We are inundated with advertisements for "green" products, but there seems little real emphasis on the basics, i.e, what it's all about and why we must change our behaviors. Like Kathie, I see it as a movement that's 'trendy'. Still, every shopping tote used is a plastic bag still lying in wait for its place in the landfill.

    A pox on the bottled water isle! I hate seeing all that plastic ~ 6 packs, 12 packs, 24 packs "on sale now". It's "on sale" at my house too, via the spigot!

    We must continue to educate...I absolutely believe people can hear the same thing over and over and then one day, they suddenly REALLY hear it. (Oprah's 'Ah Ha' moments!)

    Your blog is vital, Rhonda Jean. You do such a lovely job of teaching and reaching so many young men and women...I always feel as though I've come home when I read your wise words.

  13. Morning Rhonda

    The only mainstream media I choose to access are magazines from the library and newspaper websites. Sometimes there may be a piece or two but they're usually short and glamorous.

    I don't see a lot of frugality or green living in my suburb - a generally white, established, upper-class area where we rent a little place for half the median price. Most gardens are lawn or flowers (some have rain tanks), plastic shopping bags abound, and rubbish bins are overflowing. But I could do so much more too!

    Cath in Sydney

  14. As much as I love reading blogs, I am one of those girls who, loves to sit down with a cuppa and a home interiors magazine. It is actually the Aussie decorating mags which I notice occasionally run articles on living a simpler life but at the same time promote costly wares and very expensive designer clothes, even the so-called country magazines. There is one magazine which I buy occasionally, that I love and it is the British edition of 'Country Living' which combines lovely English country homes and very useful articles. For example, the April 09 issue featured tips for choosing hens and a cooking article on making the most of chicken. They also were offering UK readers a free book on modern sustainable living 'Sufficient' and free organic veggie seeds (10 packs!) for the cost of postage only. I remember one article which called for ideas on how readers reused a certain brand of jam jar and the results were fantastic! It actively promotes organic gardening, nature study, traditional crafts and rural enterprise.I know its a glossy mag and some of the accessories they feature such as china, are pricey but it gives me ideas and I can find similar pieces at op shops; as a visual person, the gorgeous photos inspire me and hopefully it is the type of magazine which will be bought by city women who are considering a move to the country or making changes such as starting a veggie garden. Their website actually has articles and the lovely photos, not just subscription information. I am still waiting for a tv programme devoted to a simple living, not just a garden show... a live version of your blog perhaps! I'm sure it would attract viewers. Are there such programmes in other countries?

  15. My mother pays my subscription to "delicious" magazine (a bit of a yuppie magazine) every year for my birthday, and in the last few months they have had a couple of features regarding cooking and eating sustainably. They have also introduced a regular feature on how to use up ingredients.
    Is this the beginning of a revolution though? I'm yet to be convinced, unfortunately.

  16. I am in the USA. The TV ads here seem to be trying to lead us down a path of spending to get our economy turned around. There is an average of about 8% unemployment. I wish the powers that be, would realize that the economy will not turn around without getting those unemployed people back to work. And where can they work? Well, I say in an industry that caters to those who wish to live simply, Recycling better and more efficiently and helping get some solar, or wind power going. I don't profess to know how to go about doing this. I think there are more qualified, college educated people who could figure all that out. Maybe some unemployed people with degrees in physics, enginneering, economics, or politics!

  17. I'm not convinced either about the times a changin!For some living simpy for now will offer some releif from the economic downturn, some will try it as a passing fad, but once the economy is back in full swing I can almost predict those sighs of lets go shopping again from the majority of people.

    Trends these days seem to change so rapidly and thats what I think contributes to all that waste of stuff, people buy things then throw them out as they go out of fashion, and so on. Its the 'waste' in our society thats very worrying.

    love reading your blog!

  18. Ha! On the news the other day was this piece where the reporter reported in a voice that seemed astonished by people "pinching pennies" by visiting a "free store" or making their own things. He said "status is out and simple living is in".

    But although that news piece was truly obnoxious as if people haven't been living simply and participating in barter for eons, I think that sustainability is making a little stronghold in the hearts of Americans despite our culture.

    The current economic crisis hasn't only affected people's budgets but overall, people are thinking and wondering who they are and who WE are without money, without status.

    So I do believe that times are changing. The change will be slow of course and it will be perverted by advertising and fads but it is steadily coming in none the less.

    Not all of us can live the wonderful way Rhonda Jean lives but the more of us that appreciate this way of living and work in our little ways to get closer to the life portrayed on this blog, the more acceptable and honored simple living will become.

    The fact that this blog has so many readers, I think is proof that more and more people around the world are looking for inspiration to change their lifestyle!

  19. There is a quite a bit of useful information on your blog, many helpful tutorials. But this blog was a bit of a stab to the heart. Never, ever have we seen a lavish life in my part of Texas, in most of Texas. All these "live simply and frugally" ideas that so many people think of as "new" are just the Way It Is here. It's how my grandparents survived, how my parents survived and how I am teaching my children to surviv.

    Very little of what you see in movies, on TV or in the media, even in the news, reflects reality where I am. Though you meant no offense (and nearly always, those words are followed by something offensive) such condescending remarks are a stab to the heart of someone who has never seen that way of life. No one I know has seen that way of life.

  20. I'm based in Canada, and kind of out of the media loop, but there are two things that I've noticed.

    First, I've noticed more articles dealing with simplifying. Sometimes they're about whether this can last, sometimes they're from the perspective of still consuming but differently, but some of them are good and deal with these changes in a positive, somewhat forward thinking way.

    What I've noticed more, though, is that people seem to think my lifestyle is less strange than they did before. Suddenly, shopping at the thrift store, cooking from scratch, eating lots of rice and beans, bringing lunch, stocking up on useful goods when they're available used, and everything else that I do looks a little less out there to people, and a little more like it's approachable and actually makes sense. Not everyone is following, but I've been giving out more solicited advice in the past few months than every before. I don't know if this will last, but I'm certainly hopeful.

  21. I personally don't think ENOUGH is in the media. Also, even though it's all over the local and national news about how poor the economy is, the mass #'s of home foreclosures and people losing their jobs, etc., I am not seeing a difference in my area in regard to people cutting back and living within or below their means. I'm shocked at the #'s of people who are taking expensive vacations, buying the latest and greatest gadgets, buying whatever they please, etc. We are struggling from paycheck to paycheck even though we live extremely frugally simply because bills (such as electric rates, property taxes, etc.) continue to rise. We are treated as though we are weirdos because we don't have the latest and greatest, and so on.

  22. I agree with the others that most of the simple living is a trend. It seemed to be an offshoot of the green 'Hollywood' crowd; most of the green stuff they sport is too expensive anyhow. I just have to think back to my grandparents that lived frugally and didn't think a thing about it ... that's just the way people lived. Since I got married in 1980, I have been home 27 of the 29 years as a homemaker. Living on one income, even having more money than we needed ... but ALWAYS living within our means. Paying cash or using the credit card making sure to pay it off each month. Saving, tithing, and looking for bargains ... not junk bargains ... but usually recycled furniture or appliances that were built better than new stuff. I have noticed most of my magazines have frugal living sections with tips I can remember from my ancestors ... there is nothing new under the sun. I'm glad the economic woes hit the USA ... we needed a good boot in the butt to wake up. However, currently, big brother (government) wants more and more control and money from the tax payers. That's a whole 'nuther can of worms. Thanks for your world wide effort of simple living you and Hanno promote here.

    Hugs from North Idaho, USA

  23. My second comment for the day! I forgot to mention this in my first comment. Did you see '60 Minutes' two weeks ago? They featured a story on young Australian women who had been in lucrative careers who gave it all up to return to being homemakers. It did remind me of your post 'Return of the Homemaker'. The girls they featured all loved looking after their families, caring for their homes, baking and cleaning and were proud apron wearers! They had no regrets about staying home. I'm sure you would have found this interesting Rhonda.

  24. Hi Rhonda!

    I just started getting MaryJane's Farm magazine and it's chock full of things about growing your own food and trying to go organic, sewing aprons,conservation, making things last -- i.e. felting old wool to slip into boots for new liners or turning an old wool sweater into a carrying bag by felting it and making a few cuts and stitches. MaryJane loves the outdoors and has many cast iron recipes as well as encourages "glamping" -- camping can be fun and glamorous! Though some of the products she promotes are not necessarily inexpensive, her heart is right in trying to get back to the simple things. You should check out her website at She is married, though her magazine comes across as a bit "feminist", which I am not, so I just try to take that with a grain of salt.

  25. I am not convinced there is any great change just yet, especially in the area I live on the Gold Coast.I still feel I am the one who is "different" around here with my vegie garden, part of which is on the front lawn,my cane basket and calico bags I take to the local shops etc. The fact that I walk to those very close shops even sets me apart from my neighbours.
    Looking further afield though this may be different. I have recently been helping my daughter move into a new home in Melbourne.When we were cleaning the temporary unit she and her family had been living in she presented me with a spray bottle of vinegar and water and a packet of bicarb soda. Noting my positive reaction she said she had seen a show on TV which had been focusing on simple living and how to save money in these difficult financial times. She enthusiastically told me how she had also seen similar things discussed on an Oprah show. Hooray!
    I am sure she has never heard a word I have said about such things when she was living close by.She certainly didn't follow by example.In fact, she left behind a huge box of commercial cleaners and everything that goes with them.
    My daughter is a successful business woman with plenty of disposable income but I saw the beginnings of some change in her thinking and actions during that week I was with her. It warmed my heart.
    I think these types of programmes could have a huge influence.


  26. Well, I am in the US of A, but I guess I am not the norm.
    My parents moved me and my two brothers from a VERY LARGE metropolitan city in 1972, to the "woods in the middle of nowhere" four states away. We moved here with nothing but a second hand trailer, and a few belongings stuffed in a pickup truck. My parents weren't hippies of the 60's, or anything like that.
    What they were, were parents who grew up in the same metropolitan, and saw it going to "hell in a handbasket" fast. They moved us to 17 acres of woods, to give us a better life. Small town of less than 2500.
    We raised all our own meat for the freezer, had 3 huge gardens, and the only time my mother went to the store was for toilet paper. I had chores, and lots of them.
    Did I like it at 8-14 yrs old...nope. Not one bit. And my parents didn't do it to be climate conscious, "green" or whatever catch word it is today. They did it simply to put food on the table. No magic formula, it was something that had to be done, and we all had to help. Period.
    There are lots of people like that in the US, and I hate to say it, but for rednecks like me in NH, Oprah is as FAR from middle America as you can get. She is part of the problem, with her shows on her "favorite things"...most of which I couldn't afford unless I made $100,000 per yr. She is an example of excess, not a leader.
    I was raised with a simple lifestyle, and continue to live that way. My biggest purchase was 4 yrs ago when I bought my laptop. I drive a car that is 9 yrs old and still going strong (btw, it is the newest car I have ever owned). Except for certain occasions, my kids never get new clothing or toys. All second hand. The only thing I do buy brand new is sneakers for the kiddos and myself, because we are so rough on them...we live in them. And I never pay more than $10. I have never owned a credit card, and don't plan to start.
    We are currently staying with my family, but when we get back in our own place, I will do exactly what I did before....make break, bake my little heart out, and shop for every single little deal I can get.

  27. Rhonda, I wish I could saythe same thing about a changed way of thinking for my country (Germany). Instead, when I see something in the media a frugal way of living, growing your own wegetables, keeping chicken, it is always presented as a sign of poverty.
    And the statistics show that even though the incomes are sinking, people shop even more and are determined to travel during their holidays. The only change is that most of the trips are now "only" two weeks long.

  28. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I actually nearly wrote to tell you about this yesterday! On Monday night I watched 60 minutes on tv and there was a programme about young women giving up their careers to stay at home and look after their men and children and who are enjoying their housework. They had Germaine Greer on it as the counter for all this. One young mum said she felt cheated, because nobody had told her how great it was to stay home and keep house. They showed them learning to sew and bake and cook healthy dinners etc. Some had home-based work that they were still doing when the children were in bed for the night. It was a little bit along the lines of 'domestic goddess,' but fascinating all the same. I just tried to find the link for it, but to my frustration they've only uploaded the first story from that night, and not this one. I'll keep checking though. It sounded Australian-based, as the girls had Aussie accents. :o)
    Rachel L

  29. Hi Rhonda, I love your blog, and read it every day. This post is timely as I got an email just today from Notebook Magazine's online newsletter - - the heading was "Budgeting is not a dirty word" with hints and tips on budgeting, menu planning, and how to save money. They also have a downloadable shopping list and menu planner. I'm not sure if these hints are in their published magazine (don't buy magazines any more, but I had to laugh - the first item to look at on line was "DIY manicure".

    I would also like to think that it's a sign of change, but I tend to agree with some of the other comments and unfortunately I think the majority of people will revert back to their normal spending habits once the economy picks up again.

  30. What Cheryl in Texas said really affected me. It seems that a lot people who have embraced frugality have done it later in life and have "seen the light".
    The older we get the less we need, I guess.
    I was raised to make the very best use of the resources I had. I dont believe in self- sufficiency,
    it is the road to poverty. I do make my own bread as it is so much less expensive but not soap as it is not economical for me to do so and if I did I would only consider doing it as a hobby.
    Some of the best comments in this blog are from people who use the money they save to help others not just to have a little more in the bank.

  31. A mainstream magazine put out an article on how to feed two for 50 dollars a week not long ago. I laughed as I can feed 4 for that much if I really wanted to try that hard.

    Overall, I don't see that many people choosing to live simply around me. I did have a friend approach me for help on survival style food storage and while I am teaching her about that I am encouraging her to go just one step beyond.
    What I wish is that people would come to these conclusions out of choice rather than need. Those around me have not yet experienced the need and won't change a thing until then no matter what the media is telling them. Sad but true.

  32. I'm still to be convinced that, for example, the people buying chooks in this Sydney Morning Herald article will still be interested in keeping their chooks in a few years time.

  33. So many good comments, but please pay attention to Cheryl. Affluent Americans get all the attention, but when you leave the "edges" of the country, you meet more of the people who never did have that "lavish" American lifestyle.

    I also have to comment on Oprah -- she's a marketer just like the ads she sells on her show. She'll scold everyone about wasting the world's resources, but every year she runs her hour-long "favorite things" info-mercial for luxury products.

    I do think the bulk of this is an economy-driven trend. That being said, my grandparents raised a family of eight during the depression. But the skills my grandmother used have passed down to me (the only female and only homemaker in this generation). This is how trends become everyday practice and something that we Baby Boomers have failed to do in wanting our kids to have it "better."

    I can't tell you how many girls my sons have brought home who cannot muster a meal together, let alone do it frugally. Parents have stopped teaching their children homecare in general, we women being particularly sensitive about that. Just because you want your child to have the opportunity to be anything he or she wants to be, they still has to be able to feed and clothe themselves.

    I remember when I was in my twenties going to a newlywed friends house and watching in horror as she threw out her bread ends. It never occurred to me that everyone didn't know all the uses of bread ends, not to mention that it was perfectly good food being wasted. My family wasn't poor, but the idea of "waste nothing" was just a tradition, not a passing marketing fad that could dissipate with every economic glitch.

  34. This is so difficult to answer, Rhonda. I'm 64, live on the southern shores of Lake Erie where I've lived all my life unless we were in Germany or Hungary. My parents and grandparents went through the depression and then WWII and were not wild consumers, but not conscious of being frugal for frugal's sake. I remember in the mid-sixties being on a flight to California and sitting next to a man who tried to describe the new kind of card he was working on developing which would not be used with a particular store but could be used for credit anywhere. I remember thinking, "What a ridiculous idea. It will never work!" Oh my, too bad I wasn't right!

    In the seventies the back to the earth movement influenced a generation (mine) even if we didn't do everything they suggested, we did some of the things, gardened, etc...And I think in rural western and southern parts of the country there never was as much affluence. It wasn't until the 80s that spending became such an out of control thing and I used to wonder what it would take to get us back to something more rational.Economic collapse can help, I guess. I was always troubled by the idea that year by year everything had to keep getting bigger and better. But that idea never was much of a trend. It's just beginning with the global warming warnings.

    The US is such a large place. It's difficult to say anything that holds true for all of it. There have always been people interested in a more simple and frugal lifestyle and now there are probably more. It certainly isn't everyone, but most people are more aware of these ideas.

  35. I live in Stockholm, Sweden, and I must disagree slightly with Ramona. There's stuff happening here as well. Small changes, but still...

    Some years ago, the market for organic and fair trade products were small, but now it's growing fast. More and more people want "clean" and locally produced food. There's a lot of new books and articles on the subject.

    As for simplicity, things are growing as well. The blog and book Köpstopp (Not Buying) got a lot of attention in 2007-08 (, and Carl Honoré's book on slow living has been translated into Swedish (Slow: lev livet långsamt, Bazar 2007). In 2008 Giséla Linde introduced simple living in the book Lev enklare (Viva 2008).

    Stockholm has a Slow Food-network and a there's a small Swedish Voluntary simplicity movement (
    So there's hope, even if the changes are small!

    Thanks for a great blog!

  36. I'm a novice to the simple living movement as my husband and I just started down this path about 6 months ago. However the changes in our daily lives are amazing. I wasn't sure how long or how dedicated we were going to be to our 'greatest home improvement project ever' but gone are so many of the elements of our past life - chemical cleaners, use of the dryer, packaged foods, etc. We were committed to changing one thing a month to allow ourselves adjusting time but have found that once a few changes were made the rest have been pretty easy.

    Now, I'm a political scientist (who is finishing my PhD) so I'm naturally a cynic I think but I am not sure the simple living movement has truly gone mainstream. I think it is more a function of the current economic and political situation rather than a large scale social change. I do think individuals will be won over by wonders simple living can bring to our lives (we are included in that group. I guess every person or family is a step in the right direction but looking just at my friends and family I wouldn't call simple living mainstream. Even if Oprah is touting it. Was her "What can you live without" show a replacement for her "My favorite things" shows?

    I love the information you provide on your blog and even though this is the first time I've commented I do read it every day. Thank you for all of the guidance you have provided - it's truly helped us make the important changes in our lives.

  37. Mmm. Sorry to say, but I would have to agree with some of your commenters that most of the "change" here in the US is superficial and designed to make (or make one feel better about spending) money.

  38. Lots of stuff about cutting back, gardening, keeping hens and living more ecologically and frugally in the UK 'Country Living' magazine these days. I think this would be classed as a 'lifestyle' publication. Also lots more about veg growing and climate change etc in the magazine of the Uk's Royal Hortcultural Society which is published each month. Stuff about make do and mend in our local paper and also in the magazine we get from our local council a few times a year.
    There was also an amazing programme about peak oil and farming from a farmer's daughter's point of view. She visited some very forward thinking perma- culture/ forest, low input farmsteads. It was very hopeful and inspirational - I can't explain about it very well here. Like you, I think it all looks rather promising......

  39. Well, here in the UK, the Organic movement is certainly a big thing and allotment holding is the new trendy (yes, I do have one). I'm prepared to be corrected, but it's very much a middle-class thing and I'm not so sure it's going to last long-term. There is still a divide between the haves and have-nots - many people are simply too poor or too lazy or not interested in changing their way of life. Sadly, it's still about the consumer culture. With regards to media coverage, you might be interested in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his 'River Cottage' project - I don't know if it's shown in Australia, but he has a website
    There are many magazines dedicated to small-holding and 'downsizing'.
    We've also just had a series where Mary Portas (a retail trouble-shooter) tried to turn around a failing charity (thrift) shop by turning it into more of a boutique.

  40. I have to agree with some of the other comments, not everyone in the U.S drinks 5.00 latte everyday and drives a big car. For those of us who have always lived frugally, done our homework and worked hard it is beyond frustrating when someone as well spoken as you declares Oprah to be middle America. Every country has it's excess and every country has it's simpler living folks. Please stop spreading the myth that all Americans are over consuming and greedy. We are not all the same. Just like not all Australians are blond, tan surf bums.

    I do hope it is a trend, but I an afraid it is not. I do love that our First Family has put in a kitchen garden!

  41. Rhonda Jean...I have lived in the Midwest for over thirty years now and have come to appreciate the large number of people who "yard garden" here, even in the cities.
    Plus the large farms and ranches scattered across these prairie states. Gardening here is not an easy job, but one that so many people do, and encourage others to try. We have some of the most amazing farm markets to be found and it's the hard work of families living the frugal and simple life that grow and make available the healthy foods they bring to market.
    I have lived on both sides of lifestyle models, being completely dependent on the business and services community for what I need and depending on my own resources for what my family and I need,
    I have the time to focus on the latter model now and that is what I try my best to do.
    I know of many programs here in the U.S. that are wonderful examples of frugal and simple living...the expansion into the west was achieved by hard working folks who had very little when they arrived here to claim these lands and they learned to barter, make or improvise when they needed food, tools, clothing, shelter, or even medical or other professional services. It became instilled in the generations that followed.
    America is seen in the media as this spendthrift entity that encompasses all its citizens, but to be fair and honest, there are so many more of us who are not a part of that lifestyle..we have modest incomes, work hard for what we have and enjoy a simple life, but a good life.
    There are a great many people in this country who have wealth, some share in ways that would surprise you, helping to set up clinics for mothers and their babies, starting book and reading programs in the southern mountain areas, providing the seed monies for homeless programs and soup kitchens, housing and services for abused individuals...helping to secure medical help for someone who needs it...the lifestyle they themselves lead may not be frugal by my measure,or possibly yours, but their hearts are made for service and I am so grateful for their generosity both here and abroad.
    I feel your statements about the population of my country is unfair and unfounded, we are a generous and good people who, like you, find ways to save, reuse and use up, and yes, consume the resources we need to enjoy our homes and lives. There are some in every country who use more than others, who leave a very big track where ever they tread, and who do not count the cost of wasteful living.
    I am sorry if I have used more space and time than you can allow, I think you have been judgmental toward a very good country of people...and you should read beyond Oprah, there has been a "movement" toward simple living for far longer than the advent of that program. There are many programs that have this type of information and encourage all of us to live a simpler life.
    Not everyone is interested in the "lifestyle", many can only practice frugal and simple living on a small scale, some teach it to others and pass on the skills required, we have been "going" green in this country since the first push to get serious about solar in the seventies and early eighties...the new green is now wind and alternative fuels. We are there in the forefront with many others. I know a few folks who do not care one way or the other about any of this...but I keep encouraging them.
    In the same way you have so generously encouraged all of your readers...with words and useful information.
    Not all Americans feel that you must be an uber capitalist to have a meaningful life. A realistic goal is for each person to take take more responsibility for what they consume and how they live our lives.
    Let me end by saying that I do treasure your blog as one of the most informative and useful and encouraging that I have ever had the pleasure of reading...that has not changed.

  42. Hi Rhonda, We are also in USA Rhode Island and the frugal living theme is all over our area. We made the changes, make our own soap, raising chickens etc but since this is all new to me there are several magazines I enjoy. Mother Earth News is my favorite since it has a lot of teaching techniques in it. I also enjoy Hobby Farms and Hobby Farm Home who also teach me many things I don't know how to do. It's been a lesson for us on what is important in life. Thanks for all you do.

  43. Just hopped over here from the Simple, Green, Frugal Coop...

    Here on the eastern seaboard of the US (New Jersey), I see glimmers of change. I found an "Organic Gardening" magazine in a grocery store a few months ago, and almost all the stores are selling reusable grocery bags. Some markets and coffee shops offer discounts if you bring your own bags or cups, respectively, but those discounts (2 to 10 cents) are not significant enough to motivate most people looking to save money.

    Sadly, most people here still associating frugality with not having enough money. For example, some neighborhood associations ban clotheslines because it "looks poor," and I'd imagine that keeping chickens or front-yard horticulture would be similarly banned. When I speak to certain relatives about frugal living tips, they are quick to say "But you have enough money." Yet those same relatives pride themselves on always finding great bargains, and have a mountain of debt and a house full of stuff they don't use to prove it.

    I agree that a lot of women's magazines here, especially, have really started churning out the "live simpler" articles. Even Kiplinger's, a personal finance magazine, has that in their June issue. However, they're always prefaced with the qualifier "in these hard times" or "in this economy," further reinforcing the idea that they/we are only doing this because we "have to."

    I certainly would like to keep up this steady drumbeat of mass media to get everyone to dance along, but already there is emphasis on getting Americans to buy more again. (The recent tax incentives to buy new, more efficient cars is much more focused on reviving the auto industry than anyone's monthly bills or total debt.) But I also know that even if the media buzz dies off, some people here will continue to live and teach by example.

    That viral, grassroots effect is partly what keeps me going. It's a kind of faith that the prevailing trends will not be able to shake.

  44. Hi Rhonda,
    Geez it's been so long since I've chimed in I feel like a stranger :)
    I have noticed tha changes that your talking about. Both in the media as well as in my neighborhood. People that have had little to no interest in gardening before are asking questions. I've been teaching a lot of classes with my Master Gardener program too. There is much interest.
    As for the various media sources. I too am always a little shocked to see stories like that about downsizing or living simpler on our local media and the Magazine, GRIT, that I write for has had a very keen interest in finding the ways of doing things organically and frugally. The movement is afoot Rhonda... It is afoot!
    Glad to have you leading the way.

  45. I live in the US (WA state to be exact) and I feel that unfortunately this is just a passing trend for a lot of people.

  46. When I first started using the internet I remember being shocked to realise that not all Americans live in big modern houses, or ultra-smart city apartments! Stupid I know, but the media had done a good brainwash job on me! I spent a lot of time on homesteading and craft sites and that’s where I first found the idea of simpler and frugal living. When I mentioned this to my aunt who’d lived in urban America for over 40 years, she told me of standing in line for food packages and the welfare help she had to call on (nothing like we get in UK). The media has done the American people a huge disservice in painting this picture of affluence and consumerism.

    And, sadly I have to agree with a previous poster, I think simple living here in UK is largely a middle class trend and will very likely be abandoned as the economic situation improves.

    I did hear a passing remark on tv that people are digging up their front drives to plant again? – concreting over driveways is rumoured to have added to the flood issues we have here, reducing the escape route for excess rainwater. One of the major gardening events featured a show garden which allowed for planting and parking.

    There is definitely a lot of interest in growing vegetables and allotments, and that part of it is more likely to last I think. People often get ‘hooked’ on gardening and once they’ve tasted home grown veg there will be a reluctance to go back to the supermarket!


  47. Like one of your previous commenters, I see a lot of the "green" adverts in the US just promoting an alternative label to purchase.
    Here in Oregon, where the original "Bottle Bill" recycling program was enacted in 1971, people truly do try to live in a self-sufficient and an environmentally conscious way.
    I think the popularity of your blog and many other blogs featuring 'life skills' is proving that the investment we place in our future is wholly dependent on little things we do each day.

  48. I have noticed a lot more community gardens springing up, and a lot more media coverage in America as well. I'm worried that the emphasis is too much on gadgetry and less on self-sufficiency, though.

    A few weeks ago I was reading an article in Mother Earth News (I think) that said "The green movement is no ordinary fad. This is a practice that's going to stick around." The following sentence turned me cold. It was something to the effect of "Monsanto has been buying up companies left and right, so you know this isn't just a fad."

    Should that worry me as much as it does?

  49. Grass what grass!!!No lawn only veggies, water tanks and solar power generation,self-sufficiency in the backyard.Of course it's possible,practical and all can do it.
    The sale of home sewing machines has doubled, more people are keeping chooks and Farmers' Markets are proliferating.
    Australia has always been a society where people recycled,remade,repaired,bartered and survived.The latest manufactured crisis will be survivable too and most Australians are not 'feeling the pinch' despite the media beat up and the panic.
    Global warming? read Ian Plimer's book "Heaven and Earth".

  50. I love, love your photos, but would love them even more if they had captions.....could you? would you? THANKS!! :)

  51. I, like a lot of the comments, have seen a lot of the "green living" articles and advertisements. But, I, too think it's a trend. I live in a small ethnic blue collar town. I grew up with most everyone having some sort of a garden even if it was just a couple of tomato plants and a pepper plant. When I was growing up, a lot of the people in town were originally from other countries, became citizens, worked hard, took good care of their families, homes, land, had morals and were involved citizens in their local towns all while living within their means, and prospered in the land of "plenty". Alot of these people are what they mean by "millionaires next door". You would never know how wealthy they are because their lifestyle and belongings do not show it. Most of the people in this tri-state area could find a relative or friend who could show them how to live a good quality of life within their means. I hate to say it, but a good percentage of the boomer generation grew up in households that did not overindulge and lived good independent, self sufficient, moral lives and chose to turn their backs, leave the area, make lots of money and spend lots of money. They in turn choose to vote for political representatives that help them spend even more (unfortunately, even the money of those like us who watch our money). They know exactly what to do if they wanted to, and they know what to tell their children to do. I also see shopping mall parking lots filled to the brim. Restaurant parking lots filled to the brim. Now we keep hearing we will see more layoffs and unemployment in the fall, but who knows. Out of the clear blue sky, our gas prices have ridiculously raised in price. I have lived in a way that has been within my means all my life. I am 51 years old, I worked while my children were being raised. My mother blessed me with watching my children or I wouldn't have worked, and I wouldn't have bought a house, because I would not have been able to afford it. Whether a real estate agent or banker told me I could, I KNOW I couldn't and it wouldn't have happened. I even told the real estate agent that I would not eat peanut butter to have a house. We have alot of elderly people in this area who are worth a lot of money because of living within their means and working long hours in factories and mills and mines. Its these same people who will leave their hard earned, sacrificed for, little fortunes to their spendthrift children and grandchildren to squander. I have seen it happen. People need to start taking responsibility for the poor decisions they are making and have made.

  52. My family have been do-it-yourself types all along. When I was a teen, dad had Nubian milk goats, rabbits, and chickens and a big garden, all on one acre. We made our own yogurt, bread...and each of us girls took turns making supper. I fantasized about making every object in my home--from the dishes to the rugs. Very practical for the most part.

  53. Please don't judge American according to what you see on Oprah and read in her magazine. She does not represent middle America. There are many religious, conservative American women that want nothing to do with what Oprah is, and these good women and been quietly living a simple life for many, many years.

  54. I do really believe that things are changing for the better. A small sign for us was our kids' attitudes. My husband and I asked them what they were most looking forward to this summer, and for a 13 year old and an 11 year old to list picking cherries and canning, is definitely a step in the right direction!

  55. Without disrespect to any Country or my own; what I have observed here where I live is folks reacting to the now instead of responding to the need.

    Everyone has the right to make a decision, but I am concerned that we have more reactive decision makers than responding decision makers.

    I have fear of the "changes" and turn around in the economy that we hear about in the news being paid for by more and more taxes.

  56. I live in America and took no offence to anything you said. Our family has always been frugal and gardened etc. Through the years we just keep adding skills and refining the ones we already do. I see articles in the little magazine that comes in our Sunday paper talking many times about living more simply etc. Our local and larger news media has many shows on simple cooking from scratch and learning basic living skills. There must be people who want this or they would not put the shows on..they are expensive to make and put on. I am hoping this does stick with people if things turn around and things are not as tight later. Many of my neighbors have planted a few veggies and are seeming to enbrace a more simple lifestyle. Wish I could give you better print etc information like you asked. I haden't realized till you mentioned it that so much of what I have heard recently about this all has been through your and other great learning blogs. Wish I could help you more. Jody

  57. I'm not certain about any change. I've been like this forever it seems. We were raised to not be wasteful. Gluttony will be tough to shake.

  58. Hi Rhonda

    I'm really enjoying this post and the resulting comments :)

    I have noticed a lot of stories in the media about "simple living", "sea/tree changes" and veggie gardening. I hope that it is a sign that people are changing their views on what is really important in life and not just a romanticised ideal.

    Most of the stories regarding growing veggies and keeping chickens seem to be positive (oh how quaint, they grow their own lettuce!) however a lot of the ones regarding women who chose to leave their career in favour of caring for their children and their home are often not so favourable. The story on Sixy Minutes that another commenter remarked upon was a prime example of this. I thought the reporter had an incredulous tone in her voice when she was narrating the story and there was an underlying feeling that these women have thrown away their lives to become servile "anti-feminists" longing to live in 1950.

    For those of us committed to a simple lifestyle and especially those of us with children, it often just makes more sense to have one person at home, especially if the job they left was not a high paying one. Without the need for both parents to work in order to pay childcare, a second car, expensive work clothes and hair cuts it's often possible to have time and energy to do all kinds of crazy bake bread, grow veggies and keep chooks!

    That said, not one of my friends (including those with children) have adopted the simple living philosophy, and think I'm crazy for baking my own bread, living within my means, forgoing recreational shopping and being a SAHM, but I live in hope!

  59. Hmm, not sure Rhonda, like Allison, wondering will it last or is it just in response to the global economy. I hope a real change does come and stay, but ... what amazes me when I go shopping is how much stuff there is to consume. The quality of a lot of this stuff - I don't think it's craftsmanship - and the waste created by throwing out this cheaply manufactured stuff that does not last the distance and has less meaning because it is cheap. Little dollar value invested, broke or don't want it any more, pffft, chuck it out. I've also visited a few blog sites where some mums appear to 'celebrate' the fact they don't really value home-making activities, spending fun/playtime with their children or cooking meals for them, even if they are full-time stay at home mums. Yes, it is a hard job, but gee, what practical and social skills are they passing to their kids let alone the overall message they are sending?

  60. dear Rhonda - just checked the weather maps, (12.05am Friday).

    The damp soggy stuff is moving over towards NZ . I really hope the skies stay clear for Saturday for you all.

    Now - We know you are all flat put having a loving busy time.

    No need for another post this week, enjoy your early morning time to have a gentle cuppa and reflect on the next few days to come.

    Care,love and hope to you all,

    Michelle in Wellington xxxx

    (even Zebbycat has given up on his attention seeking to rest and reflect, gentle purrrrrrumbling the result)

  61. I couldn't agree more with your message. I was raised rural with our own food. I was a single Mom, and did the same with my girls. (We were considered rural Trailer Trash because of our backyard critters, and very modest lifestyle.)

    My girls are so equipped to live well in this, (or any,) economy.

    Thank you, I knew my folks taught me right, and I felt right raising my girls the same way.


  62. Another thought in regard to what we see of simple and green living in the media. We must remember that there just is not much money to be made by industry in our living simply. When was the last time you saw any advertisement for vinegar and baking soda for household use? Or a tv commercial for bread flour? Industry has nothing to gain by this movement, except by tempting mainstreamers that they can assuage their consciences by buying the "greener" version of bottled glass cleaner.

    Too, magazines make their money through advertising and complementary copy (in which the staff writers recommend or mention "products they like" which just happen to be advertised in the next few pages). It's not a stretch to think that television ads can work the same way -- like a Coke commercial after the characters in a show were seen drinking it. Whereas the makers of staple products that are bought cheaply simply do not advertise -- there's no need to spend the money on it. We buy it because it is basic, whole and inexpensive, and if makers of those items advertised, likely one of those qualities would change.

    So after the fad passes, we still won't see much media evidence of simple living. But I like to think that there will be more of us living simpler than there were before the trend came along.

  63. My family and I have always lived a simple life. Our parents raised us that way.

    I agree, it is exciting that it's mainstreamed.

    My worry, though, is that the simple life and the green life will just be flashes in the pan. The media gloms on to what sells and unfortunately, this is all big news right now.

    In the 1970s, when I was growing up in Minnesota, USA, there was the same sort of focus on simple living, alternative energy, and the like. Unfortunately, it went by the wayside.

    I'm embarrassed as an American for the things that you mentioned. Suffice it to say that we're not all like that. Generalizations are dangerous. So, I must hide my red cheeks of shame and realize that many of us are doing more than our part to negate those that are much more damaging. I hope that more will be doing the same.

    Great post.

  64. Wow, what a response! I wish I had time to read each comment thoroughly instead of the quick skim I've done this morning.
    I appreciate the comments that point out the difference between what is perceived and what is reality. For instance, television would have us believe that all Americans strive to live in McMansions and all youth are shopaholics with credit card debt. Of course we don't see ordinary suburban families teaching good old fashioned values; stretching their hard-earned dollars. What would be interesting (ie. marketable)about that??
    I saw the 60 minutes story and I thought it made some good points. One of the young women said that her mother workded outside home and she hated it. Being in childcare, never having time at home and with her parents. She didn't want that for her children. They also highlighted the myth of the super-woman, doing it all. Even though Germaine Greer had to scoff a little at them, she also had to admit to some frustration- that women were still doing the bulk of the housework despite their career 'advances'. But the story didn't go far enough into the practical side of how to make full-time homemaking work. They made it look like it was all mother's club get togethers and buying frilly aprons.
    I'm afraid I'm with the people who think this is a trend. Simplifying has been done enmass in the past- post war, previous economic downturns. The commercial system is to crafty not to pick up on human greed. When the money starts flowing again, they know which buttons to push.
    That said, those of us who feel differently will quietly keep on doing what we believe to be right. Some will join us and some will go astray.

  65. I live in Southern California where there is a high proportion of yuppies (young urban professionals)that had never been through a tough financial time in their lives, until now. They have only known fast economical growth. There are also people here in Southern California that live the "old way", within or below their means (I'm one, but I did not always live this way).

    Materialism was pounded into our heads by media, pop culture, Hollywood and advertisers. It still is to some degree but I see a change. People were pressured to show others how successful they were by owning the biggest best car, house, clothes, purse, electronics, etc. Now I see the shift is to show everyone how environmentally conscious you are.

    There are a high proportion of people living complete financial lies here and it's sad to say many still are even after losing jobs,and living on credit etc. (We even have a few in our own family). They probably will have to lose everything to stop spending money they do not have and when they can live a financial lie again they will. But I believe that most people affected by the recession will cut way back and keep it that way because of the fear of it happening to them again.

    I think that mainstream media can help "the change" by letting people know that it is OK to be frugal. They need to send the message that being frugal and living in a house you can afford does not mean that you are not successful.

    The mainstream media can make it cool to be debt free. ABC's 20/20, a national mainstream news media program aired a show on 6/19/09 called "The New Normal". You can read the related article called "Is the American Dream Dead-or Just in Hiding?" at It talks about how cutting back can be a good thing. I think that this kind of information going out to those that can not yet let go of the excessive living may "give them permission" to change their ways.

  66. I agree that America is so much further behind than a lot of places. My hubby and I are always working on the simple life. His brother said he wished he could have a life like ours. A life full of running here and there with having "everything" does get old whether people admit to it or not.
    Even though people are doing more gardening you really have to wonder how long it will last. If and when the economy picks up will people go back to the old habits? Will they forget about how much better things taste from their own garden, and how when they are working outside that the stress melts away as you are pulling on that weed?
    I'm thankful that I can stay home and do the things I do. When we take a vacation we have saved long and hard for it. Debt is something that we strive to move away from. Instead of buying the new my hubby repairs the old.
    It used to be where people would snicker if you were a house wife, but my doctor said it best after he had stayed at home taking care of things. He told me you are not a home maker, you are a Domestic Engineer!!!!

  67. My husband and I have been married for 24 years. He is a doctor. We have always lived simply and have raised our kids that way, even though it was "against the grain" of others around us and our families. My children have been taught how to survive and we would be able to survive if..... I think it's rediculous the excess of others and the lack of care for their offspring. All this was coming. It had to happen to correct all the deviations from centerness.

    And I live in the US around others with a pretty good amount of wealth..moneywise!


  68. I have enjoyed your blog. There will be extreme changes here in America now that the Obama-Waxman-Markey Energy Bill just passed. Many Americans will now be forced to budget much higher taxes and value-added energy costs to everything they consume.

    But about Oprah?

    Oprah has a private jet.

    P.S.- MILLIONS of Americans do not tune in to Oprah - or any other commercialized mainstream television blather.....Those of us who homestead are not influenced by preachers, but more by those on the same path.


  69. "I know mainstream media don't lead, they are followers" - that's the perfect thing to be reminded of. To remind other people of, too...

  70. Dear Rhonda,

    I grew up in a very frugal way. My dad had to retire from his very physical job when I was young due to heart problems. My mum was also too unwell to work. I grew up with 1 small cardboard box of toys (and I loved each toy with all my heart!), helping mum with chores, baking biscuits and cakes for the tins for the week and got $3NZD a week as pocket money, when my friends were getting $10NZD and above a week. We scrimped and saved but I left the house every monrning with a belly full of hot porridge or cereal with warm milk and returned home to find a pot of soup on the stovetop ready to eat. We ate homemade bread, biscuits, vegies from the garden and when we had an excess we would trade for fruit that we didn't grow. My dad would make things out of wood or metal and we often cooked on top of our woodburner to save money. For my parents, this wasn't a trend or a voluntary choice, it was survival.

    Now that I'm 20 and at University, I still hold true to many of the values my parents held. I can see the differences between myself and those around me. I am at University to become an Early Childhood Teacher, my friends are here because they heard you make more money with a university degree. I live on $10NZD a week for food, feminine products and op-shop spending (which doesn't happen very often). I have a container garden in the back yard and my parents bring through lots of food and homemade treats. I feel incredibly lucky that my parents managed to give me so many opportunities in life when they had so few. I am one of the best readers I know because I grew up with books instead of tv, I am unphased by trends since they have never been important to me and I even remember having to dig into my toybox to find toys or colouring books/pens to give to earthquake or flood victims.

    I think that is living simply. I think your blog is the pinnicle of living simply. I think that you are right, the recession is forcing many families to look closely at their lives but I also believe that there are many, many families who are already living simply, but in order to survive rather than because it is a choice. You can't read about them in a magazine.


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