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We are not Machines: The Parable of Sufficiency

Let me define a machine very broadly as something incapable of thought that reacts predictably to a given stimulus. Take a vending machine, for example. Someone puts money in, pushes certain buttons, and without thinking about it, the machine distributes the goods selected. Now imagine another type of machine – a robot. Suppose every time this robot has an opportunity to acquire money it does so and then... read more

An Introduction to Peak Oil: Some Online Resources

For some time I have been interested in the notion of peak oil, but recently I have had the opportunity to research quite extensively on the subject. I am currently working on an essay about peak oil and its implications for high consumption lifestyles, but presently I would just like to share some of the best online resources (articles, videos, and websites) that I have discovered in my research. Before... read more

Less can be More

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... read more

Simplicity Institute Publishes Results of the Simple Living Survey

The Simplicity Institute has today published the results and analysis of the Simple Living Survey. 1748 people participated in the survey (so far), and to the best of our knowledge that makes it the most extensive sociological examination of the Voluntary Simplicity Movement available. To read the report, click below: “The Voluntary Simplicity Movement: A Multi-National Survey Analysis in Theoretical... read more

Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth (Film)

Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth is a film by the visionary filmmaker Dave Gardner that is currently in production. The film is questioning the growth imperative that lies at the heart of modern economic systems – the film’s trailer can be viewed here. The Growthbusters team is currently on a fundraising campaign to pay for the final phase of production, and their current project is a soundtrack album... read more

Three Simple Messages

———– (1) The Great ‘Simple Living’ Survey is still open and looking for more participants. If you are exploring ‘a simpler life’ in one way or another, the Simplicity Institute (a non-profit research organisation) would love to hear from you. If you haven’t participated yet but would like to (it only takes 4 mins) please click... read more

Travelling the Simpler Way: In Praise of Camping

This post was written on the invitation of Zero Carbon Moreland. Henry David Thoreau, the pioneering environmentalist and philosopher of the simple life, once wrote an essay called ‘Walking’ in which he informed his contemporaries – in all seriousness – that they didn’t know how to walk properly. In fact, he claimed that he had only met one or two people in his life that knew how to walk. When I... read more

Money, Stuff, and the Deathbed Experiment

If you’d excuse the rather confronting title, I’d like to invite you to undertake what I call the ‘Deathbed Experiment.’ It’s simple and goes like this: Imagine you are on your deathbed and someone asks you: “What attitudes defined your life?” What would you want to be able to say? This thought experiment never fails to move me in some way, and I always feel that it moves me in the right... read more

The Great ‘Simple Living’ Survey

If you live a ‘simple’ lifestyle in one way or another, the Simplicity Institute needs your help! The Simplicity Institute is an organization dedicated to research and policy analysis around the topic of simple living, downshifting, and similar lifestyles. This research is profoundly important as it touches the core of global problems such as climate change, over-consumption, work-life balance... read more

Alternative Hedonism and the Pleasures of Simplicity

Hedonism can be defined as a way of life which treats pleasure as the ultimate good. It can be distinguished from utilitarianism, which treats happiness as the ultimate good. Hedonists are not so much concerned with happiness, in the sense of overall wellbeing. They are more interested in the carnal, sensual, and immediate pleasures of food, intoxication, sex, leisure, nature, art, and the like. By... read more

There is More Day to Dawn: The Promise of the New Pioneers

Two years ago, almost to the day, the Simplicity Collective was launched at Melbourne’s “Sustainable Living Festival.” It was born of the idea that consumer culture as we know it is unsustainable, both socially and ecologically, and that simpler living, in some form or another, will need to be a part of any human civilization in the future, especially in the affluent West. This idea struck a chord... read more

The Revolutionary Spirit of the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

Voluntary simplicity designates a way of life that is very different from the high consumption, materialistic lifestyles that are widely celebrated today in advanced capitalist societies (and increasingly elsewhere). Given the personal, social, humanitarian, and ecological benefits that voluntary simplicity promises, it should be of concern to all those who are sympathetic to this way of life that it is... read more

Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown: The Diderot Effect

Have you ever purchased or been given something, something you really wanted, only to find that this new acquisition made the rest of your stuff seem a bit old and dated? Rather than discarding the new acquisition or accepting some disunity in the style of your possessions, have you then been tempted to upgrade your old and dated stuff? In the 18th century, the French philosopher Denis Diderot wrote an... read more

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (Video Lecture)

Barry Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. In this talk, he explains how and why the abundance of consumer choice in modern society is actually making people miserable. But far from being a litany of despair, his is ultimately a message of hope, and a message implicitly supportive of the Simplicity Movement. Don’t think buying stuff through... read more

Facebook as an Oppositional Tool for Activists? A Highly Qualified Defence of Social Media

Until 2011, I spent a total of about 4 minutes on social media like Facebook, MySpace, etc. I signed up for an account a couple of years ago, but then immediately forgot my password and, until very recently, never looked back. Like many others, I feel that social media is consuming an alarming amount of people’s time and energy, often in ways that seem rather wasteful and uninspired. (Tweet: “I just... read more
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