It's not easy being simple and green

17 October 2007

Many people want to live simply but don’t know how, or where, to start, or even what simple living really is. The simple answer is that simplicity is about many small things that add up to become entire way of life. For me, simple living has been a mixture of personal growth, thrift, making do with what I have, resource conservation, a change in attitude about what is considered success and achievement, slowing down, expanding horizons, living well on less money and making deliberate choices about my life and how I live it. Of course, it encompasses much more than those elements but that’s it in a nutshell. It is a fine honest lifestyle and when you get a taste of it, nothing else will be good enough for you.

I have been trying to set out information in my blog about the practical aspects of a simple life. Things like how to:
  • budget and shop mindfully
  • store and preserve food
  • grow some of your own food
  • keep chickens and worms
  • organise your home and declutter
  • and how to make some of homemade cleaners

Many of these tasks are things that will help you live simply and generally they're all fairly easy to do. The difficult part of your simple living change will be to have a deep understanding of how you are personally responsibile for how you live your life, to develop simple values and consistently live according to them, and to change your mindset about spending and possessions.

We live in an increasingly artificial world. We can have anything our heart desires, for a price. If you’ve got the money, you can buy disposable mops, toothbrushes and underwear, robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, fake jewellery as well as authentic gems that may have cost someone their life, frozen dinners, fake finger nails and suntans, cigarettes that might kill you, clothes that look divine but hide their exploitative creation, and meat, fruit and vegetables that look perfect and healthy but often aren’t.

Many people have deliberately cut themselves off from the natural world. Some won’t eat a tomato that has had a bug on it but will happily eat vegetables that have been fed with artificial fertilisers, meat that comes from animals that are poorly treated and fed unnatural food, or fish and prawns that have lived their lives in polluted waters far from our shores. Even though an important part of simplicity is to have enough money to live, one thing is certain, simple living cannot be bought. No credit card has enough credit, no amount of dollars, euros or gold will deliver it to your door. It is one of those rare things of true and enduring value that you have to work for.

I'd be lying if I told you that simple living is easy. It is satisfying, rewarding, healthy, beautiful, it makes you feel happy and content, it's substantial and important and necessary, but it isn't easy, especially when you start. But it's a wonderful and significant way of life and I hope all of you decide that even if it isn't easy, it is how you want your life to be.


  1. Thanks for the reminder. I'm finding that my attempts towards a simpler life are painfully slow. I know in the long term we'll get there but convincing the family (especially my 9yo) is such hard work.

    Over the last 3 weeks I've managed to cut our weekly shopping bill by £40 (sorry no idea what that is in Aus dollars)without any comments from DH. I'm buying locally and building up a stockpile of staples. I'm cooking and baking from scratch. It's time consuming but well worth the effort :)

  2. I just worked out £40 is 91 Australian dollars or 81 US dollars.

  3. allybea, that is excellent. Well done! Just keep doing what you're doing. Your changes will be noticed by your son and the longer he lives with them, the more 'normal' they will be for him .

  4. "a change in attitude about what is considered success and achievement"

    Still have a bit of muddleness/challenge with this one you've mentioned (above); career nudges along with a desire to see the world and be part of it, but at least my mind is no longer revolving in so many quick circles that makes it difficult to think straight -- and after a lot of practice -- slowing down isn't quite so hard anymore either. LOL! ;-)

    Thanks, Rhonda Jean. Good post. Just what I'd been thinking about the past few days, how did you ever know?!?... How far I've come, how far there is yet to go -- but all that it needs to be brought down to living focussed in the day to day, here and now.


  5. Another great post. Have you any thoughts/ideas on how to consume less: water, electric, gas, heat, natural resources in general? We do somethings but I feel we could do more. I'm also finding the less water we consume the higher my bill is???Go figure. Thanks again for any ideas.


  6. All the small steps do add up! I continue to cook from scratch, stopped all plastic shopping bags, not bought any new clothes (repairing and making do),make my own bread, stopped buying newspapers, take flask of coffee when go out, stockpiling, menu planning (still needs some work though),budgeting (after months of adjusting layout have finally a well-designed record of spending and projected spending). What milk in cartoons rather than plastic,reduced my water consumption by 50%...washing clothes every 2 weeks (to accept this I needed to remind myself that our great grandmothers had wash day once a month).
    But you know,although I have probably always been a bit of a simple lifer, once you start actively exploring and identifying how you are going to live your life something happens...there is a peace and an ease in knowing you are living to a philosophy and suddenly you feel so full of life and meaning that you know you can never go back living in the chaos of over-consumption. I knew that by rejecting many of the things in my life and going further down the simple living road that at some stage *there would be NO going back*..this is one thing that was holding me back. All of a sudden that fear has gone and the only fear would be going back!!LOL Bella

  7. Rhonda Jean,
    I'm near tears. Tears because this is what I have longed for...for so long...and yet I have become too much like the present world. Too much into commercialism. I've made a few changes since having the babies (almost 2 and 3) but lie in bed at night and talk to my husband about all the changes I want. Changes I want and then do nothing about. It's like a person who wants to loose weight. I may want to but unless I actively make changes, I will never see what my heart desires.
    Thank you...

  8. This is a lovely post, and your garden rocks!

    I have found that since I committed to live more frugally, I really enjoy grocery shopping. Now, its a challenge where before it was a drudgery I would put off. Now I look forward to seeing what great deals I can snag each week.

  9. Rhonda Jean, I'm finding that part of the simple path is working out what you need, and what you don't. Today I paid a $600 bill for new specs. It makes me sick to the stomach, but I cannot think of a simple alternative. So, instead of feeling bad about it, I'm grateful we have adjusted our lives to the point where we can afford and absorb such a stressful but necessary bill.

  10. What a great post, you were spot on!... garden beds look beautiful!

  11. Love reading your blog each day as well as all the comments! Love that vegie garden too. I always find this blog inspiring.
    Madly Saving

  12. Good-Morning;

    I have a question; you mention many times that you make your own bread, do you use a breadmaker, or is by hand? Do you have any recipes to share? Have a good day.


  13. I am completely with you - there are so many things I do now that I know many don't. Especially people of my age - I was having a debate with an 18yr old about why eating intensively-farmed meat isn't the best idea - he said he'd eat anything if it tasted good enough. That's the mindset we live in and trying to change it is hard.

    I cook everything by hand, we don't buy bread any more and we have never bought a pre-prepared foodstuff in all the time I've lived with my husband. He's very adamant about green change now too, though it hasn't always been that way and he used to find my ethics a bit too left-wing.

    I would do more if I had the choice (down to living without TV, fridges and off-grid etc) however in the world that I inhabit right now, those changes aren't possible. Give me a croft in Scotland and a couple of acres however and I'd be off like a whippet!

  14. You're right, Rhonda - it isn't easy. It's not easy to be thrifty, buy eco-friendly, make sure the cosmetic products I use haven't been tested on animals, or plan varying vegetarian meals. But it IS rewarding, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

  15. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Thank you for the encouragement today! It is hard, but ever so many of the best things are. What a joy it is to begin to see things in a new way. Love, Q


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