April 1, 2010

Voluntary Simplicity Sweeping North America

Voluntary simplicity though hardly popular, has never left the American consciousness, but now it is sweeping the continent as people turn their backs on consumerism in droves. The simplicity revolution has begun, and Henry David Thoreau is smiling from above.

2010 was off to a great start with the North American International Car Show that had a distinctly green theme. Trucks and SUVs were tucked into back corners, if they were shown at all. Up front were the micro-compacts, many of them electric powered.

All the major car makers agreed that the time had come for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and that they were responding to consumer demand for sustainable transportation. 97% of attendees reported that their next car would be an electric powered subcompact.

In addition to smaller vehicles, recent statistics show that tiny homes are in. Executives are turning their homes into convention centers, B&Bs, and affordable apartment blocks for low income families. They are ditching mcmansions for smaller homes made of sustainable materials.

"I love my new 600 sq ft cottage", one CEO said. "I didn't know what freedom was until I went small and sustainable! Everybody wins." He proceeded to show off the solar power and hot water systems, along with green roof, grey water system, and wind generator. "The humanure processing is just back there in the corner. My garden loves the resulting nutrients that would otherwise be wasted in municipal waste water treatment plants."

At the grocery store encouraging trends are showing up as well. Shoppers hungry for real food are avoiding the middle aisles of grocery stores having wizened up to the fact that that is where the fake food is, or the most processed and least healthy (and most expensive).

Instead, savvy shoppers in increasing numbers are choosing fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods to put in their carts. Many are asking questions about the origins of their food, as well as their ingredients and how they are prepared. Farmers markets are reporting record crowds as people look to local growers and organic fare.

The biggest trend is in the workplace as more and more people give up the pursuit of the almighty buck as they seek out an increased quality of life. Workers in increasing numbers are choosing alternative work schedules such as job sharing and part time work. Many others are quitting the corporate world entirely and living their dreams, even if it means drastic cuts in income.

The government is supporting its citizens by increasing taxes on industry that exploits our valuable resources. In the first quarter of 2010 the government has raised so much revenue that the Green Party is considering implementing a minimum income for all citizens, freeing them to follow lifestyles that are light in material goods, and rich in experiences.

It is predicted that once freed from mental slavery, citizens will experience a great creative burst of energy. It is expected that this creative wave will enable individuals and cooperative non-profits to solve many of our most pressing issues.

The Green Party is also in consultation with various stakeholders in order to implement a zero-growth sustainable economic system. In regards to this agenda, they will soon bring a bill forward that will effectively make the entire advertising and lobbying industries illegal. It is thought that such a system will reduce, and eventually eliminate meaningless mass consumption and the resulting depletion of our air, water, and land-based resources.

A fringe benefit that is also being reported is that the gap between rich and poor that has been accelerating in recent years, is beginning to close as the poor take their rightful place in our post-industrial world. Inequality, hunger and poverty are doomed.

A new, functioning, hopeful world is beginning to emerge, and it is simple and sustainable with promise for all. Who will stand in its way?

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