I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately about what I call my lifestyle. I have followed this line of thinking by reading blogs I wouldn’t normally seek and by listening to a few good podcasts to confirm my thoughts.
I have come to the realisation that what I call Sustainable Living or parts of it, could and does, go by other names. Some lifestyles that I can totally identify with that I have found so far are Simple Living, Voluntary Simplicity, Downshifting, Minimalism, Frugality, Slow Food, and Slow Living. There are probably many more that I haven’t found.
However, all have a common denominator which is pretty easy to explain.
It is the act of changing from the current consumer culture where we consume to try to become happy (so the media tell us), to a counter-culture whereby the goal is the pursuit of less stuff, exiting from the rat race, and treasuring simple contentment and a simple life.
People start this process in different ways.
Some have a life changing experience as I did which propels them down this path.
Others have a health scare and change to healthy living and one thing lead to another towards simplicity.
Others wake up one day, have a watershed moment by realising that they are wasting their life and want less that leads to contentment.
Others get sick of being slaves to debt and change to a more frugal lifestyle.
In fact, all of these things end up with the same common outcomes. Less stuff means less consumption, which means less environmental impact, and also means less debt to the individual or family taking the action. Smiles all round I reckon.
Then in most cases, because they are now part of this growing counter-culture, they start to look for others that live the lifestyle they now identify with. It starts to snowball and before they realise it, they are caring for backyard chooks and growing their own veg, along with decluttering their home, enjoying their families, and becoming the most contented they have been in years.
However, there is a trap that one could fall into which I discovered about a year into my journey. That trap is that instead of keeping up with the Joneses, you may end up trying to keep up with a different set of Joneses, remaining on the same vicious cycle of consumption.
My advice to avoid this trap is just to travel your own journey, take it slowly day by day, live within your means, and just do the best you can. It’s not a competition, because there is no finish line.
So like every journey, it starts with one small step and it doesn’t matter how we identify ourselves, we are all skipping towards the same endgame.
All you have to do is take the first step.
What do you call your lifestyle? Share below via comment as I would love to discover more “movements” that I can identify with.
I call myself “Environmentally Conscious”. Currently renting a second storey unit whilst renovating a fix-her-upper to sell to have enough money to purchase our forever home. Hubby and I both have our own small businesses and OWN everything we have. A very small creditcard (mainly used by our businesses and emergency expenses). I have 17 fruit trees growing in pots on our veranda’s currently, more once we purchase our home. Our renovations so far have used alot of recycled materials, sadly paint isnt recycled 🙁 our white goods, gas stove, hotwater systems were all purchased via Gumtree, from people upgrading.
I have an autoimmune disorder and have found organic, free range, or mainly vegetarian diet lessens symptoms for me, and have found a reasonably priced local farmers market and butcher. Living on an Island in Queensland sourcing seafood and fish locally is a breeze. Hubby and kids haven’t complained or noticed as our lifestyle has been a slow progress change 😉 I am hinting to the Mr alot about making his own home brews … so much cheaper and i am sure my adorable brother could help with some recipes 🙂
If we could go solar we would, if we could have some cluckers we would, if we could grow more food we would, we have reduced our costs, consumptions, and frivolous spending to bare minimum so we can buy our forever home without being in too much debt. Greenies we are not, Environmentaly Conscious we try to be. xxxx
Farmer liz says
Yeah I never know what to call it either. You can add homesteading to the list 🙂
Oh so true Gavin! This is something I often think about. We need to keep our goals firmly in our minds as we go about our day to day living and make thoughtful decisions.
Luckily I grew up in a frugal family, growing our own veggies, composting everything, saving up to pay cash for things we needed. This was before it became the “popular” thing to do. There is always something new to learn though, so I avidly follow blogs about living simply, and am aware of treading lightly on the earth. This is an awesome, beautiful world we live in, and I want to try and keep it that way forever.
Gavin – I love your words “This is not a competition because there is no finish line”. I’ve often said that our vegetarianism is not a competition and even though we have been devoutly veggie for 25 years, we do ‘slip up’ occasionally by eating something when we’re out like ice cream that has gelatine, and that’s okay.
But what you say is so true about all aspects of our lives. Thanks for reminding me that I need to travel on my own (sustainable) journey in my own way and that I don’t have to keep up with anyone else.
Great post, Gav, but I’m a bit confused by what you mean with the comment…..”However, there is a trap that one could fall into which I discovered about a year into my journey. That trap is that instead of keeping up with the Joneses, you may end up trying to keep up with a different set of Joneses, remaining on the same vicious cycle of consumption”.
At first I thought by “different set of Joneses” you meant trying to keep up with the voluntary simplicity crowd, i.e trying to become more ‘simple’ than everyone else, but “remaining on the same vicious cycle of consumption” doesn’t imply simplicity. So, I’m a bit confused.
I think you’ve probably listed all the possible lifestyles, that I, anyway, subscribe to. I can’t think of any others, except one that I investigated years ago and feel comfortable with and that’s “deep ecology”. If you don’t know of it, you might want to Google. Lovelock’s Gaia Theory is another idea that resonates with me, too. These aren’t really lifestyles, but just ways of seeing the world, and for me, they helped prompt the lifestyle changes.
Gavin Webber says
Hi Bev, what I meant was that it is possible to over-consumption using the latest green gadget to replace your old stuff. It is easy to get carried away with green technology as well.
We like to say that we’re living a quiet life. Simplicity sounds great, too, but sometimes living the way we do can be a bit more complicated than simple. For example, it is simple to buy commercially baked bread at the grocery store but more complicated to grind the wheat and make the bread myself. I figure the extra effort is worth it, in so many ways. The term _quiet_ seems to suit a bit better.
Well said Gavin.
People should be proud of the ‘progress’ they have made in becoming more sustainable, but sometimes this can come across as gloating and competitive.
It’s a journey and as you say, everyone starts at a different point for a different reason and we are building a community, not racing toward a finish line. So I’ll keep plodding away with my herb garden and frog pond and reading inspiring blogs like yours and Bek’s Backyard and take one step every day along the my journey.
Profound words Gav. Once we were blind but now we see.