In recent years, the interest in simple living, living off-the-grid, frugal living, and zero waste living have skyrocketed, even as our consumer culture continues to grow by leaps and bound. I suspect most of us live somewhere in the middle, far from the extreme ends of these two competing lifestyle approaches, seeking more of a happy balance than a fully committed lifestyle conversion.
The “trash to treasure” crafting type recycling efforts, like those in the book above, fit my lifestyle more than committing to a total recycling lifestyle, Of course, I acquired several craft books like the one pictured above, from yard sales and used book sellers. I’ve thought a great deal about learning to use more of the things I already have, and looking around my house before rushing to the store, but in all honesty, I’m still stuck more in a consumer-oriented mindset than pioneer woman wannabe. The truth is I’m too lazy to wander into the wilderness to live off-the-grid, I don’t like roughing it and oh, yeah, I like modern conveniences.
Reorienting toward being less wasteful takes a conscious effort. Several years ago, I decided to stop buying more and more small kitchen appliance and gadgets, because I was cooking for only my husband and me, not a home with four kids. I gave away several small appliances that I don’t use and my youngest daughter filled up three boxes of assorted kitchen gadgets from my overflowing cupboards and carted them to the Goodwill.
I did really well, for a few years, then this small, cheap 1.5 cup food processor, that I bought at a Black Friday sale long ago, broke. I started thinking that I want a larger food processor. I mentioned it to my youngest daughter and she started messaging me pictures of food processors from amazon and suggested some fancy Ninja food processor with various components to do everything from chop food to make perfect smoothies. From past experience, I knew the chances of me using a small appliance a lot correlates a great deal to how simple it is to use and fewer parts to it. I told her I was looking for something moderately priced and simple to use. The same daughter who lectured me on my collecting small appliances habit sent me a large 12-cup Hamilton Beach food processor last week. I did use it to mix up pumpkin bars, but I opted to mix the cream cheese frosting in a small bowl with a wire whisk.
Every time I think the extreme limits, in these lifestyles that shun our modern consumer culture, have been reached, along comes some new take on it and even more bizarre is so many of the people involved in these extreme lifestyles spend a lot of time setting up online forums or using social media to “share” their lifestyle and “sell it” to others… Too often these extreme living efforts toward a more simple lifestyle involve a great need for online communal support and attention. Some even turn their simple living adventures into a money-making effort…
Recently, I read about freebirthing and honestly, I had never heard of it. Freebirthing is a movement, gaining traction mostly through online groups, of women dedicated to giving birth at home without any medical care or support. These women believe birth is a natural process that is best experienced without modern medical assistance. Oddly enough, in a recent case a mother in labor began sharing the experience live in a private freebirthing facebook group, then things started going wrong in the labor and the mother’s facebook feed went silent:
“In the photos, Journey Moon looks peaceful. Her eyes are closed, her tiny body swaddled in blankets. She rests on her mother’s chest, the slight bruising around her face the only indication of what happened: that she was born dead, at 42 weeks, after six days of painful labor.
This was no ordinary stillbirth. Journey Moon’s mother, Lisa*, spent those six excruciating days in a remote desert home, laboring alone—aside from her husband and the virtual company of more than 6,000 members of a private Facebook group.”
This mother, eventually, did seek medical help, but it was too late for her baby. The bizarre aspect of this isn’t that women opt for freebirthing, it’s how it is sold in online groups. This case created an online firestorm, because women committed to fighting the freebirth movement, secretly joined this facebook freebirthing group and had been spying on the freebirthers posts. When this baby was born stillborn, these anti-freebirthers began attacking the mother online and posting articles online attacking freebirthers and this private freebirthing facebook group..
Less extreme or controversial, I learned about the zero waste movement a while back and while I agree we create way too much waste, especially food waste and packaging, here again the efforts going into zero waste require more commitment than I am willing to make. Here’s a link with a video, of a woman’s one week trial run at zero waste living: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/10/31/i-tried-to-live-on-zero-waste-for-one-week–and-i-barely-survived.html
The most amusing part, to me, was this woman began her one-week zero waste effort going to some zero waste store to consult a zero waste expert, who runs a store selling supplies to help zero wasters. The woman beginning her one week effort spent $5 purchasing a reusable bag…
First thing this morning, I saw this PBS story: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-a-well-off-couple-learned-from-cutting-consumer-habits
This young couple worked hard at well-paying jobs and decided to live as frugally as possible, saving 70% of their income. They stopped eating out completely, they buy only second-hand clothes and they saved enough to buy over 60 acres of land in rural Vermont, to pursue their dream of living in the country. This woman, like so many other people involved in these “simple living” adventures started a blog and chronicled her story. She’s written a book, Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living.
Fighting consumerism by turning anti-consumerism lifestyles into a home business enterprise is, of course, the perfect American take on “simple living”…
Only in America.