The Simplicity Collective is a grassroots ‘network of imaginations’ dedicated to creatively exploring, promoting, and celebrating a materially simple but inwardly rich life. Our planet needs us to explore alternative ways to live, and one promising way to lessen our impact on nature is to reject the high-impact lifestyles of consumer culture and voluntarily embrace ‘a simpler life’ of reduced consumption. But the simple life is arguably something which we should want to embrace even in the absence of the environmental crisis. The rat race of consumer culture is leading Western civilization (and increasingly global society) to a dead-end, and so the defining challenge of our age is to re-imagine “the good life.” Human flourishing, it can be argued, does not consist in the limitless consumption and accumulation of money and materials possessions. Instead, it consists in the cultivation of social relationships and community engagement, self-development, creative activity, aesthetic and spiritual contemplation, connection with nature, and various other non-materialistic sources of satisfaction and meaning. Furthermore, in an age where oceans of poverty exist amidst small islands of plenty, there are powerful humanitarian arguments for rejecting consumer culture. As Gandhi once said, ‘Live simply so that others may simply live.’
This approach to life has come to be known as ‘voluntary simplicity’ or ‘downshifting’ or ‘the simpler way,’ and it is the idea upon which our Collective is founded.
There is a paradox at the heart of ‘the simple life’ and that is that it is not very simple, in the sense of being easy. Indeed, living a simpler life of reduced consumption in the midst of a consumer society is a great challenge – everything conspires against you. This is not to suggest that living simply is impossible in a consumer culture, but the Simplicity Collective does accept that living simply demands a fundamentally creative engagement with life. The world is increasingly structured to encourage ever-higher levels of consumption. Those who wish to live in opposition to this trend will need, above all else, to use their imaginations. They will need to actively reshape their lives, in their own way.
Living simply in a consumer culture is not a destination as such, but an ongoing creative process.
It’s easy just to go with the flow of life, to fall in line and passively let the current lead us. However, to practise freedom requires an active engagement with life, especially for those of us creatively resisting the status quo by exploring the simple life. If you would like to join the Simplicity Collective and subscribe to our email network, then please sign up on the home page. Come join our creative exploration of life beyond consumer culture. Only your imagination is needed.
Let us be the poets of our own lives and of a new generation.
Let us be pioneers once more.