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The Scapegoat of Overpopulation

In the face of evidence such as that cited in the last post, some are quick to blame ‘over-population’ and argue that the environment is under such strain because there are too many people on the planet.[1] Currently the world population is approximately 6.8. billion and is increasing by about 70 million people each year.[2] Though birth rates are slowly declining in some regions – and have already... read more

A Scientific Review of the Ecological Impacts of Overconsumption

The last post suggested that living more simply will be a necessary part of any transition to an ecologically sustainable society. To support the contention that current consumption patterns are unsustainable, and that low-consumption lifestyles are necessary, here is a brief scientific review of the ecological impacts of economic activity today. The Living Planet Report 2008,[1] based on the... read more

Stepping Lightly on the Planet

As well as personal, communitarian, and humanitarian reasons for living simply, there are, of course, also environmental reasons. It has long been recognized that consumption and ecological impact are correlated,[1] and from this correlation it follows that reducing consumption can be an effective means for reducing ecological impact. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that simpler living, in the... read more

The Humanitarian Case for Living Simply

Although there are indeed many personal and communitarian incentives for adopting voluntary simplicity, it would be an impoverished ethics that sought to justify itself solely in relation to personal or community self-interest. For that reason, it is important to recognize that there are also broader humanitarian reasons for adopting voluntary simplicity.[1] In a world where extreme poverty exists amidst... read more

Voluntary Simplicity, Community, and the Social Good

There are also social or communitarian incentives for embracing a life of voluntary simplicity.[1] For example, when an individual embraces voluntary simplicity by working less, this may well benefit the individual (e.g. by creating more leisure and reducing stress). But those individual benefits will often have flow on effects that benefit others too, such as creating more time and energy for family and... read more

Living Simply as a Path to Genuine Wealth

Money provides power in the market – power to purchase and consume desired commodities, whether goods or services. Consumption, by satisfying market preferences, is supposed to lead to well-being. In essence, this is the economic foundation of consumer culture.[1] Its fundamental prescription is that people should seek well-being in higher incomes and more consumption.[2] The problem, however, as Juliet... read more

The Art of Life

For all the jokes that are made about New Year Resolutions – jokes about how the diet lasts one week, or how the new exercise regime is enthusiastically written down but never practised – I feel there is nevertheless something of profound value in the technique of reflecting upon one’s own life for the purpose of evaluating it and then willfully improving it. The Greek and Roman Stoics were keen... read more

Christmas: The Assumption of Consumption

The other day I saw a Christmas card which read, “The faster we destroy the planet, the sooner Jesus will be here.” First it made me laugh; then it made me think. At a time when the world’s most respected scientists affirm that ordinary Western consumption habits are indeed destroying the planet, what attitudes should we have toward the corporate event known as Christmas? Should we still be seeking... read more

Step Out of the Rush…

Here is a wonderful story that has been floating around in cyberspace. THE SITUATION In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a... read more

Technology and the Simple Life

Apparently, ballpoint pens don’t work in space because of the lack of gravity. It is said that NASA, troubled by this realization, spent many millions of dollars designing a ‘space pen’ that could function in the absence of gravity. The Russians used a pencil. Whether or not this story is true, it raises interesting questions about how technology is used in modern society. Are we, like NASA,... read more

Take Back Your Time Day: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty

In a few days – on 24 October – a growing number of people will acknowledge, ‘Take Back Your Time Day,’ an initiative established in 2001 by world leaders in the Voluntary Simplicity Movement, most notably, John de Graaf. This initiative falls on 24 October because that is the day many North Americans and Australians would finish work for the year if they worked the same hours per year as the... read more

Audio Lecture on Voluntary Simplicity

Dear Simplicity Collective, Just a short note to bring your attention to a free, audio lecture by leading ‘simple living’ advocate, Mark Burch, which is available for download here. It is an insightful and eloquent overview of the idea of voluntary simplicity, particularly useful because of the thoughtful questions posed by members of audience at the end of the lecture, to which Mark responds.... read more

Breadmaking Workshop a Delight

Contining the Simplicity Collective workshop series, last weekend a roomful of novice breadmakers came together in the name of simple living to explore the art of breadmaking. We were very fortunate to have Andrea, Leesh, and Em as our wise and passionate tutors. Thanks so much to them for their time and willingnes to share their knowledge. It was a delightful afternoon of questions, practice, tastings,... read more

Small Ways to Make a Big Difference

Over the last three weeks, a large group of writers, educators, and activists organized by Raam Dev has come together to create a free ebook entitled, ‘Small Ways to Make a Big Difference.’ In terms of content, the book’s title speaks for itself. Many of the short contributions made in this book mesh nicely with the underlying ethos of the Simplicity Collective (I’ve made three... read more

A Brief History of Voluntary Simplicity

The celebration of the simple life is about as old as human history itself; so too are warnings about the dangers of greed and materialism. The story could begin with Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha – who at the age of 29 gave up the superficial luxuries of a royal existence to seek spiritual truth in a life of extreme asceticism. After nearly starving himself to death through his practice of... read more
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