Greetings all, several people have asked me to write a short ‘press release’ summarising the key findings of the recent Simplicity Institute Report. The aim is to make it easy for those people who wish to post a link to the study on their websites, etc. I hope the following statement is of some use. Please feel free to amend it as you see fit.
LESS CAN BE MORE, SIMPLICITY INSTITUTE REPORTS
We live in an age that faces many great problems, ranging from ecological overshoot, poverty, overpopulation, limits to economic growth, peak oil, and widespread consumer dissatisfaction. Promisingly, however, there is a quietly emerging social movement that provides a remarkably coherent and attractive lifestyle response to these and other contemporary challenges.
The Voluntary Simplicity Movement is a diverse social movement made up of people who are resisting high consumption lifestyles and who are seeking, in various ways, a lower consumption but higher quality of life alternative. By limiting their working hours, spending their money frugally and conscientiously, growing their own vegetables, riding bikes, rejecting high-fashion, and generally celebrating life outside the shopping mall, these people are new pioneers transitioning to a way of life beyond consumer culture.
The Simplicity Institute recently launched a multi-national online survey for the purpose of gaining empirical insight into this ‘post-consumerist’ social movement. Presently 1748 participants in the movement have completed the 50-question survey and that makes it the most extensive sociological examination of the movement available.
The results of the study are both fascinating and potentially important, as they offer a deep empirical insight into a social movement that is rethinking the question of how much money and how much stuff is ‘enough’ to live well. Some of the central findings of the study include:
- In the developed world the Voluntary Simplicity Movement is comprised of approximately 200 million people exploring ‘simpler lifestyles’ of reduced or restrained income and consumption.
- 87% of those who voluntarily choose to live more simply are happier for making the change, despite having less income. This suggests that reducing the environmental impact of our consumption habits may be in our own immediate self-interest as well as the planet’s interest. It also shows that there is a viable and desirable alternative to high consumption lifestyles.
- There is an emerging ‘group consciousness’ and political sensibility within the Voluntary Simplicity Movement, with 89% of participants stating that they would vote for a political party dedicated to promoting ‘simpler lifestyles.’ This suggests that the movement may become an important political force in the future.
The Simplicity Institute Report looks deeply into these and other research findings. The results of the study are freely available for download here.