Revolution at the kitchen sink

3 May 2008
There is a revolution happening out there. It’s starting right in front of you, at the kitchen sink. Most of my regular readers would know I rarely write about political topics, I leave that for the “experts”, but I’ve been thinking about the revolution for a while now and it just has to come out.

A few years ago, when I started to live more simply, my friends and family thought I was a bit of a nutter to want to give up spending, cook from scratch and save resources. They didn’t understand it at all. I’d already closed down my business and was stumbling along with no clear direction when I started reading everything I could on sustainability, in particular, David Holmgren’s articles on energy descent. I’d read his books on Permaculture back in the early 80s but his energy descent articles lead me to read more about climate change, and then Peak Oil. It turned my world upside down. Instead of now thinking the need was to reskill, relearn and rethink because I was no longer working for a living, I had a different focus. I wanted to plan my own energy descent and make sure I knew as much as I could to help my family through the many changes coming our way.

When I talked to friends and colleagues about it, they didn’t believe me. Well, to make a long story shorter, over the years I realised that the best way to deal with these looming problems was to make sure I had my house in order. I reskilled myself to the best of my ability, I made plans for our future here, and everyday I researched more and more in books and on the internet. Blogs were yet to become a part of our daily reading so I headed for a large American frugal forum. I learnt a lot there but most of the other forum users were only interested in saving money. A frugal life, so they had money to spend on other things. I found the Americans to be quite a bit behind the rest of us; environmental damage and climate change were rarely discussed. While quite a few countries were working towards greening themselves, America seemed to sit in a cosy backwater, waiting for technology to save them and refusing to believe they needed to do anything themselves. That has changed.

Now a revolution has started and you can read about it every day in thousands of blogs all over the world. Now the cost of oil has skyrocketed, taking many other costs along with it and most people know that the weather is changing. They might not know a lot about it, they might question some of the research, but at least the terminology has seeped into general conversation. When the words become part of our language, there is no stopping it. Some of these changes are now being talked about in our mainstream media – there are stories on rising food and oil prices almost everyday now. But they are only now discovering what we in blogland have known for a long time – we need to change how we live. Now there is no way of ignoring the elephant in the room.

I believe many of us changed because we read and write blogs. Our changes were not directed by mainstream media or our governments, they came from the grass roots – us. We talked to each other about our fears, we showed each other what we were doing in our own lives, we taught, we listened, we encouraged, we rejected past ways. We read each others blogs and discovered that not only is a change to a greener way of living necessary, we are made happy and fulfilled in the living of this kind of life.

Every time we blog about reducing our fuel consumption, every time we decide to install solar panels, when we start growing some of our own food, when we step out of the mainstream and mend our clothes, when we decide to downshift or get rid of our debt, every time we blog about our greener lives – it makes the corporate world gulp and take notice. People power is an incredible force.

At my home we are doing what a lot of you are doing. We’re growing food in our backyard, we’ve installed solar hot water, we harvest our rain water, we stockpile, cook from scratch, have eliminated as many chemicals from our lives as we can, we sew and mend, we have stopped recreational shopping, we stopped spending. We make do, we live well on less than we ever thought possible. We live simply. We have rejected the mish mash that has become modern life.

Growing some of your own food makes a difference.

Whatever you can do, do it. Whatever changes you’re thinking about, make them happen. There is a revolution happening and we are leading it, my friends. It might be a quiet and gentle start but what we are doing is significant and vital. I’m sure the mainstream media will claim the revolution as its own soon, and will shout loudly about living greener and more frugal lives, and I know our governments will then be more pro-active. In the meantime, we need to keep encouraging each other through our blogs, we need to show and tell everyday about how our lives are being lived in all our small towns, in our suburbs and in our cities. We need to lead our governments to this brave new world.

In the past we have often been lead by mainstream media, but they have missed the boat on this one. Blogs took the lead well before it ever occurred to the traditional media that there was a new revolution happening. Blogs are leading the push towards a better way of life, they give us the inspiration, the knowledge and the power to change for the better.

Welcome to the revolution.


  1. Vive le Revolucion!

    Lovely post, as always, Rhonda.

  2. True words indeed! I find such inspiration every time I visit your blog, Rhonda Jean. :)

  3. Wonderful as ever Rhonda.

    Every little bit we do can only help.
    I was only thinking the other day how being eco-friendly is not seen as a hippy/minority type lifestyle anymore and more and more people are embracing it. Even if is just with small things like, not buying packaged foods, homemade cleaning products, sewing & mending clothes, buying energy saving lightbulbs etc. If everyone just did these small things, it would make an amazing difference.

    Thanks again for making us think Rhonda xxx

  4. You are so right about the vast majority of the American mindset. We've been gradually going to a simple existence, and I've cut my grocery bill down to bare bones, am cooking from scratch and we are re-thinking our life here in mid-Ohio. It amazes me the Americans who still have the mindset - I work hard, I want all the fun stuff. My kids are gradually forgetting about the pre-packaged junk food - and are clamoring for homemade yogurt with fruit for a snack now. And yet - in American newspapers they say the surest way to kill the economy this summer is for everyone to plant veggie gardens and raise their own foods - No thankyou - we'll have a HUGE garden. I've enjoyed your blog for a few months now - it's given my husband and I both the motivation to continue on.


  5. Right on the nail again Rhonda. I've learned so much from blogs like yours; most importantly I've learned to question how I live and how I WANT to live, I've learned to not be afraid of making changes and that a small change can be a big improvement. :)

  6. A good post, Rhonda.

    I think permaculture has always sought to be a grassroots movement; and simplicity and frugality, being by definition 'alternative' are counterculture. But you're right that both are receiving more media focus and will soon be identified as mainstream - which they need to be to play their part in getting this world out of the mess we've put it in.

    Regards, Gary

  7. I have recently been reading your blog and enjoy it very much. We have been on the live simply, reduce debt, sustainability train for many years now. The only way we have been able to live on one income for so many years is by living frugally and I love it! I am especially interested in living chemical free, as I have been having a lot of health troubles due to electrical chaos in the environment. I also read, read, read about chemicals and the cancer connection. I know there is a link and I am doing my very best to keep my family as chemical free as possible in this day and age. It's not easy!

  8. Thanks again Rhonda for such an insightful post. I love being part of the revolution! I'll enjoy being able to tell my grandchildren one day that I have tried to be mindful of the earth and her resources - so that they have some of it left to enjoy.

  9. It does seem like peak oil is the elephant in the room no one wants to think about. Learning how to be self-sustaining helps me to not be discouraged!

  10. Rhonda,
    I hope you know not all of us Americans are like what you viewed or experienced.

    We may be more of a minority, but we are here. :)

    I respect your thoughts though.

  11. Just to add I've never had that materialistic and wasteful mindset.

    Like quiltedsimple we live on one meager income and I'm able to stay home. There are many who don't think it to be possible. For some it may not be, but for many it is IF you make choices.

    Sometimes that choice may be something like: a vacation? or stay at home? A big home? or stay at home? Fancy clothes, living in an expensive area, a new car or 2nd car - the list goes on.

    We've forgone so many of those choices and to me it's been a wonderful trade-off to own my own life and time.

  12. Go Rhonda! I think the times are such that the quiet revolution needs to become a little noisier in the wider world as well, because some commercial interests seem to be able to wreak damage far faster than mere homemakers can fix things. Did you catch the story this week on the ABC's Catalyst of the virtual death of the Coorong in South Australia, and the risk of acid mud poisoning Adelaide's drinking water when the rains come back? All so Cubby Station and their ilk can make a buck. It just makes you want to weep. They had footage of the clouds of bird life that *used* to live there just a couple decades ago. Somebody in authority has been asleep at the wheel to let this happen, and we have to make lots of noise about this stuff.

  13. Dear Rhonda,
    Another wonderful post. My parents always tell me how poor they were in their youth, but how happy they were also when they had much, much less. I experienced this while travelling in southeast asia in a very poor country. The people were dirt poor but very happy. It is very admirable the way you are living your life and sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. I've been a daily reader for only a few weeks now, but have already learned so much. Thanks.


  14. Your observations echo my own as usual. Every little bit does indeed help and the face of the world is changing...even here in America. Some folks will not accept or make changes until they are forced by their very circumstances.

  15. Thank you Rhonda for another wonderful post! Here in central Texas, USA my family and I are learning as we go. I read everything I can get my hands on. There is so much to learn. Being called a hippy in the wrong generation is quite the compliment for me. It's only encouragement to work harder.

  16. It's a great feeling to be a part of this...thanks for an inspiring read!

  17. Dear Rhonda,

    I have never posted before so here it goes. We are a family of two adults & four children living in a two bedroom, upstairs apartment in Hawaii. We do not own...& we would not wish to own an apartment but here we are. I have had all my children at home, cloth diapered, home schooled, self doctored, etc but until I found your blog it didn't really hit me that I could literally start from where we are at now to make my "crunchy" dreams come true. This idea of starting now, where I am, has been key for me. Especially as a mom with dreams of catchment water & solar panels on a piece of my own land! So I went out & got the needful items to start a garden on our lanai. So far we have many varieties started & I have a sort of master plan for the small space. I feel really good about it. I have made other changes like getting rid of chemicals, frugal spending, starting of a stockpile, making do etc. & have really started to change my mindset on the accountability I feel for all the garbage from packaging we have had in the past. We are quite content with homemade toys & baked goodies.
    So there it is, I really just could not sit & lurk any longer without saying Aloha & Mahalo! ~Ahya

  18. thank you. I too have been treated like I was insane, but I know that one day all those laughing at me will want to know how to do the things I've learnt.Your blogg and others like you keep me going.

  19. We all need to do our part. Not all Americans are selfish users and more and more are changing their mindsets, and living more frugally and more greenly; lifestyle revolutions start small and grow slowly, but they do grow!

  20. I have been trying to live a simple life for the last year, more recycling, home cooking and baking, less buying and a more mindful approach to our lives. My 8 year old daughter has joined in by recording our power useage and helping think of ways to reduce it as power prices rise again. I am trying to use the car less and that really needs to be my next target as petrol is nearly £1.20 a litre now, though money is not my only motivation spending less on material things is an immediate way to see the difference the changes are making as opposed to the bigger picture where it will take longer to see the outcome of the revolution.

  21. Thanks for all your inspiring posts. Everyday I read them. Today I told about your log on a Dutch website, so your weblog can inspire more people.

    Greetz, Annikka

  22. I'm a garden blogger, and alas, the average American gardener IS a long way behind the rest of us. I think we know more about Rachel Carson than they do! Perhaps their more fertile soils have insulated them a bit from the consequences of their actions? The Lone Ranger syndrome doesn't help, either. But there are places there like the Rocky Mountain Institute and Little Homestead in the City that are showing the way.

  23. Revolution.... how inspiring!

    Speaking of the American sluggish realization of the elephant in the room -- my husband had a BRILLIANT idea.

    This year, our government is giving everyone who filed taxes $600 and then $300 per child. This money is intended to boost our consumer-driven economy. My husband said that the government should install just one solar panel on every tax-payer's home instead of giving us money to blow. Just imagine!

    Isn't he wonderful? See why I love him so much???

    Too bad our government is so short-sighted.

    Blessings to you, Rhonda!

  24. You are so right!! Never though I'd be part of a revolution, but I hope I am. :-) I remember a few years ago talking about my beliefs and wishes for the future to co-workers, and they called me a hippie. My sister has called me exhausting for always talking about the environment and recycling. I don't care, I know I'm not alone.
    One thing that disturbs me though is things that were mentioned in a newspaper article here about the "green economy", how companies make a lot of money setting up projects with government money just because it has the "green label" on it. And not being particularly interested in the outcome of such projects. I hope things will all change for the better, and that soon everybody will see at least some of our beliefs in the same light.
    Christine from the NL

  25. Amen about the recreational spending.

    stephb, that is encouraging. I don't like overpackaged foods, and have lots of those light bulbs.

  26. Can you tell more about the solar hot water heater?

  27. Hi Rhonda: Found your blog a few months ago. We live in California and gasoline just hit $4/gallon. Food has gone up considerably. I mentioned amount finding an acre of land to live on to my husband and he is actually interested! I really didn't think we would be on the same page so soon. I'm going to ask him to read your blog for inspiration. We will see, but change is in the air and I find it liberting to stop being a consumer and to be content with little. I appreciate what you are doing and for your blog. I read Little Jenny Wren also and she also inspires me to slow down and enjoy a more simple way of living. I don't know when I joined the race for more, but I don't like it and want off. I haven't read all of your past entries, but could you mention more books to read about being self-sustaining? Thank you.

  28. I find your blog inspiring. I agree with you that a revolution is going on, one that my family has joined in. Even though I live in an apartment, I am learning to garden (through a community plot) and am trying to live as green and simple as I can. I still have far to go but I am excited to be a part of this Great Turning.

  29. Wonderfully written and a beautiful sentiment with which I am in full agreement.

  30. Absolutely wonderful and TRUE posting. We Americans were very slow to hop on the boat because, as my Russian friend put it, "Americans are lazy!" hahaha When she said that I almost took offense, then I realized she was absolutely right! We are spoiled to getting the most for the least and I think the "supposed" recession is a good thing for us. We need to take a step back and think about what we are doing and money seems to be the driving force. If things cost more and you can't afford them, you automatically start thinking frugally. When you start reading how great frugality can be on the world and environment, it slowly takes you one step further, etc.
    I am still in many ways, and have been, the "typical" American and I must admit and APPLAUD YOU because you are a MAJOR reason I am trying as hard as I am today...which is no where near what you do. Maybe someday though. :-)

  31. Sharon,
    Thank you for your comment. I sometimes think that Americans get a bum rap. We are not all as the media often portrays us as.

    If people are getting their opinions of us by watching Oprah, then you are not getting an accurate assessment. Her show does not always relate to the everyday struggling American. Media (even news shows) can be dangerous and often inaccurate.

    For as many rich/materialistic people we may have, there are many more who are poor or are struggling. And those of us who are striving to live simple lives and have been for a long time - I doubt you'll see any news report about us anytime soon.

    Lastly, please do know also that not all of us support our government's choices (my opinion/no flames please). We have less power to change things here than people from other countries think we do.

  32. Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Shall be linking to your post in a day, Rhonda. And I do so enjoy the community that comes of free access to're right...the community of those who're doing this is far more of a satisfying resource, encouragement, and motivation than any media manipulation.

    The U.S. is still behind on a lot of things...all our friends do think our focus on these things and the fact we're making them central to our lives rather than peripheral qualifies us more and more for the "nut" category ;-)

  33. Rhonda,

    Hello! I haven't been able to comment for a while we have been so busy. Right now we are on a small vacation. I have thought of you alot! We are at a heirloom seed fesitival. You can see it here I have seen a solar water heater which we would love to have.

    You would love this fesitival so many hand-made items and much thought about helping your garden and the environment.

    I agree with your post! I live in the U.S and many are not thinking beyond buying the next "big" thing. I love being weird! We are spending a bit here on vacation but it is all our "cash".

    We hope to start on our coop when we get home. We have seen so many here that we would like to build. They also have so many rare chickens. We hope to post soon on our blog:)



  34. Wow Rhonda, you always knock me off my feet when you get political! And I don't even think you realise just how political you've been, although the comments here should give you a clue!

    Now I'm not a Christian, but one thing from the Bible does ring true: "The love of money is the root of all evil". As an atheist I would amend that to say "The love of money will be the downfall of the human race". I think a bit of shortage and going without would do people some good, and the better prepared you are for that situation, the better your chances.

    I have to say, if people don't wake up to the illusion of commercialism soon, there are going to be very bad times indeed. I feel very much like the world is hanging on a shoestring as it is and its just going to take one little knock to send it into freefall. I sense bad times ahead. I hope I'm wrong, I hope people see that its not about a few people making a lot of money and leaving the rest of us to struggle and starve - that's just asking for trouble. We're all doing our best on this Earth and we all need to work together for the benefit of all.

    Keep on keeping on Rhonda, you inspire and promote this life better than any other.

    Love and blessings,



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