December 3, 2011

Less Is More

More is less, Less is more
We need to initiate discussions on the ecological, economic and psychological repercussions that result from high-consumption lifestyles. Any solutions to current global problems must address how our large footprint living has created or acerbated many of these problems.

We are led to live large by the advertising industry and social pressure. We want everything. Then we want more of everything. This is not healthy, sustainable, or a good way to achieve lasting happiness.

Just because certain activities are socially acceptable doesn't mean they aren't damaging to yourself, others, and the planet. That is why we need to begin to talk about doing less, having less, and working less, in order to get more. 

Often doing less is better for your health, and it is certainly better for the planet. You can save a great amount of money by doing less, and having less.

Exercising some restraint on your desires is also an excellent way to boost your emotional well-being. It feels great to have the self-control required to say NO to the incessant pressure to do more, buy more, have more, and work more.

What could you do less of?
  • Driving - driving is expensive and dirty, while riding a bike and walking are good for you
  • Eating - most people in developed countries eat more calories than they need
  • Shopping - cut out shopping as entertainment
  • Eating out - learn to cook favourite dishes, have friends over for potluck dinners
  • Traveling - traveling for fun is great, but is frequent travel really worth it?
  • Showering - fresh water is at a premium, and frequent showers are unnecessary
  • Laundry - it is not necessary to wash every piece of clothing after only one wearing
  • Drugs - even legal drugs like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are expensive
  • Fashion - if it weren't for fashion you would only have to shop for clothes every 5 - 10 years, except for socks and underwear, of course
  • Watching TV - ditch the cable and take a walk, or get back to your hobby
  • Processed foods - these fake-foods are nutrient deficient and expensive
  • Fast foods - healthy food is slow food - if it comes through your car window, it is not really food.
  • Going out - going out is synonymous with spending money - try staying home and relaxing instead
After cutting down and doing less you begin to realize that you do not miss the things you are doing less of. You may find that in the end you don't just do less of some things, but quit doing them all together.

Pretty soon you wonder why you ever had some of your more deleterious habits. Less becomes more. More money, more free time, more freedom, more good health, more good decisions for ecological integrity.

What are you doing less of these days?


  1. As I wrote to you before I learned a lot this year, especially from your blog these last three months. Now I do less:

    Shopping - almost nothing at all (less than 45 US$ in almost three months), except for food.

    Laundry - cut the use of detergent to half or more of producers recommendation with good results. Also experimenting with a traditional liquid soap made from pine oil. Only 25 ml is needed to a full load in a big machine.Totally biodegradable!

    Showering: Instead of quick shower every day, now three even shorter times a week with very little soap. I don't feel more dirty at all. What Jesus said in Matthew 23:25-26 came to my mind. My only shampoo is now the result of rye flour shaked with water and filtered through a tea strainer. Works perfectly.

    Fashion: Even after giving away 30 % of my clothes to charity in October, I have enough left to not shop for more in a very long time. I now appreciate what I have a lot more. I crocheted a shawl last month with wool yarn I found in my drawer. Never in years have I got so much positive attention for something I wear!

    I also use less:

    Energy: Since November I disconnected both the fridge and freezer and plan to not use them until it gets warmer outside. My "fridge" is now in my pantry where I have opened the little flap (perhaps not the best word but hard to find all english words!) near the ceiling and it gets colder there during the winter than in the fridge. If it is energy effective or not is hard to know. My kitchen is a bit colder and the radiator is managed by the house owner who pays the heating and not me. (Well, not directly anyway, it's included in the rent.) I guess I have to use my commonsense. If it gets to cold I just put down the flap and the "fridge" will be cold enough anyway. If not, the only problem is the milk. Then I can heat the milk for hot chocolate or put it in the sauce the last day it is useful. It's fun to think about how to solve small problems without having to spoil my good plan.

    But I have a lot more to learn doing less... Still, I drink the same amount of coffee, two or three cups a day. Living in Sweden where this is the social drink everywhere it is hard to quit. The Nordic countries are the worst consumers of coffee in the world. Not surprising Starbucks is trying to get hold of us. Still they have just one single café here, at the airport I heard. Swedes nowadays have increasing aversion against american establishments, especially if we already have better solutions. To do something "the american way" is used in jokes and considered doing it the stupid and outrageously wasted way. Good that you are canadian, otherwise I wouldn't dare to write this... Starbucks will anyhow not help to decrease coffee consumption here. Perhaps coffee reduction is my next challenge. Not a small one I must admit.

    And thank you for the interesting link you gave earlier about increasing problems with loneliness in Canada. Could have been written about the situation here as well.


    1. Eva,

      What an amazing comment! Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful solutions to the simple living challenges that you have taken on. Fantastic!

      It is sad and true about "the American way" and I must admit that my fellow Canadians are as guilty as anyone south of the border.

      In years past we used to talk about protecting our distinct culture and fighting the Americanization of our country. In recent years, especially the last six under a right wing, pro-corporate/pro-Wall Street government, we have given up completely.

      Coffee reduction is a hard one that Linda and I have taken on successfully in the past. Presently we are drinking fair trade organic coffee, but definitely not from Starbucks. I have never bought a coffee from them in my life, despite them being on every corner.

      Occasionally we make our own Indian Chai tea instead of drinking coffee. It is a very good alternative.

      Thanks again for sharing all your inspiring good news. Always good to hear how you are doing over there in northern Europe. Stay warm.


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