June 30, 2024

Addicted to Simple Living

This is your brain.

This is your brain on shopping.

The official term for being addicted to shopping is oniomania. It is probably more common than we care to admit.

It sounds like a funny name, but the situation is absolutely humourless, despite common light-hearted enabling phrases like "shop till you drop", "shop fearlessly", or "when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping".

Also known as Compulsive Buying Disorder, it defines the buying everything approach that business people love so much. 

They would like nothing more than giving us all a case of CBD. 

Human nature is susceptible to addictions generally, making shopping and spending money a potentially dangerous activity for many, perhaps most consumers. 

It has devastating effects for individuals, families, and the planet.

Better to develop what 
author William Glasser calls positive addictions.

He says that positive addictions can strengthen us and make our lives more satisfying. Two examples he uses are running and meditation.

"If more of us gain strength," Glasser says, "maybe we will make a better world; there is little chance we will do so if too many of us are weak."

Positive addictions, unlike their unhealthy counterparts, enhance our lives.

An addiction to conspicuous consumption, and the daily grind of competing for fewer and fewer resources, is keeping us weak. 

Speaking from personal experience, simple living can become a powerful positive addiction. 

An "addiction" to simplicity can help one overcome negative addictions, and lead to an integrated and rewarding life.

It is the basis from which to recover and start building a better world for all.

Just say YES... 

...to the calling of the simple life.

June 28, 2024

United Nations of Simplicity

The Not Buying Anything blog has an international readership. 

We are a virtual United Nations of Simplicity.

Our neighbours to the south in the USA remain the largest contingent of visitors here.

That makes sense as North America is the most consumer oriented place in the world, and more and more of us are exploring the benefits of a simpler lifestyle that may be more appropriate for what is shaping up to be the New Normal. 

Both Canada (4th most visitors) and the U.S. have long traditions of simplicity that have long been superseded by rank consumerism.

Henry David Thoreau himself would undoubtedly be retreating back to his cabin in the woods if he were around today.

Over the past year we have had several new countries in the #1 visitors category.

Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Russia account for most of these newer guests.

Living a quiet life in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, it is a thrill for us to connect with people from so many places around the world right from our humble home. 

I wonder what other countries, who may live more simply than we do in North America, think of our version of the simple life.

It may be like Chinese food.

Question: What do they call Chinese food in China? 

Answer: Food.

It is the same with simplicity.

Question: What do they call simple living in most parts of the world?

Answer: Living.


There is something there for us to learn from.

Many in North America, and other parts of the world, may be returning to simple living, but many people around the world have never left it.

Top Visiting Nations To Our Blog

1. United States

2. United Kingdom

3. Singapore

4. Canada

5. Hong Kong

6. Russia

7. Australia

8. France

9. Germany

10. Sweden

11. Spain

12. Netherlands

13. India

14. Ukraine

15. New Zealand

16. China

17. Indonesia

18. Philippines

June 26, 2024

Work and Simple Living Research


I have never liked working for a boss. I would rather work for myself. I didn't have to do any research to come to that conclusion.

From the very beginning of my time in the workforce, I felt like I was being exploited.

Why did I feel this way? I can't say for sure, except that it just didn't feel right for me.

Maybe it was from watching too much Monty Python:

“Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

My eighteen year old self vowed to escape the paid work world as soon as possible. 

I certainly did not want to wait until my official retirement age that seemed so very far in the future. 


Images of flying cars, world peace, and all inclusive vacations on Mars. Ha!

Back in 1979, planning to work till my most robust and energetic years were over was not an option.

It wasn't that I didn't want to work. Being alive means having to work, and there is no way around this.

Over the years both Linda and I had jobs, bosses, and coworkers that we enjoyed a great deal. 

However, we wanted the conditions of our work to benefit us more directly. 

For example, instead of working for someone else, getting paid, then buying food, we wanted to work at growing and preparing the food directly ourselves.

Living more simply, and concentrating our efforts on reducing expenditures, eventually led to an early retirement for both Linda and I.

I was 40 and she was 35.

We went into semi-retirement at that time, and fully retired to the simple life a few years later.

Anyone that has tried knows that living simply can be a lot of work, but doing so remains the most enjoyable and satisfying work we have ever done. 

What is your thinking on work and living simply? 

I am interested in your experience, as is Michael B. Harari, PhD. 

He is a work psychologist that also wants to know how the role of work is managed by simple living people, including those that frequent this blog.

He sent me the following email:

"Hi Gregg. I'm a work psychologist and professor of Human Resource Management at FAU in Boca Raton, FL. I'm also a simple liver. 
There is an academic literature dealing with simplicity and I've noted in reviewing it that many studies suggest that work plays an important role in people's efforts to live more simply. 
However, there isn't much research that helps to understand the specifics of this dynamic - for instance, what specific barriers does work present people who are trying to live simply? 
What about workplaces, work cultures, or work arrangements makes it easier for people to live simply? What do people who embrace simplicity look for in jobs?

To address these points, we are conducting interviews with people who pursue simple living. We so far have recruited participants from the reddit "simple living" section. It has gone well, but we are need in more participants.
To thank people for participating in these 30 minute interviews, we are donating $10 to the World Wildlife Fund for each interview conducted, so there is a good cause attached. 
We also hope that this work can contribute to making a difference in people's lives. Of course, one study in isolation cannot do this, but we are working on developing a broader base of academic literature to help to understand the work-simple living interface which, we hope, can have an impact in time.

Thanks for your consideration,

Michael B. Harari, PhD

If you are interested in sharing your ideas around simple living and work in a 30 minute interview, the good professor can be reached at: 


Tell him the Not Buying Anything Blog sent you.

Please feel free to also share your ideas in our comment section below. 

June 25, 2024

Free At Last

"Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love."

- Julian Assange

As of yesterday, Julian Assange's freedom is pending. It seems too good to be true. We will have to wait and see.

However, for now he is out of prison, and free for the first time since WikiLeak's 2010 release of almost half a million documents relating to US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice."

- Julian Assange
So much injustice. So little time.
There is still much work to be done. 
Carry on, Mr. Assange, and, thank you for your sacrifice.
Free at last.

June 22, 2024

Return of the Dumb Phone


I have a dumb phone. 

Phones like it were rendered very uncool at the end of the 2000s when smart phones started flooding the market.

I guess I am uncool - a dumb phone has always been enough for me. 

No internet connection. No social media. No apps to download. No constant on and available.

My flip phone only does voice and text, and that is all I want it to do. 

Most of the time I have it turned off, sometimes for days at a time.

That makes sense as I am a Neo-Luddite, low-tech, anti-surveillance, privacy-seeking, frugal, aging, simple living type.

But why are more and more GenZers opting for the same style of simple phone?

Some similar reasons, as it turns out. 

Mostly, though, to rid one's life of meaningless and potentially harmful digital distractions.

An increasing number of young people have concerns with privacy (or the lack of it), are burning out on the perpetual connectivity, and are digitally detoxing. 

Dumb phones, as a result, are increasing in sales, a form of reverse progress.

It turns out that those expensive, complicated, overbuilt, intrusive, smartypants phones may not be that smart for users of any age, but especially children and teens.

Research has shown that children without smart phones generally do better on a variety of factors than those with the devices. The longer a child delays adopting a smartphone, the better the outcomes.

Excessive screen time on mobile devices can result in a number of negative side effects for users of any age, including "sleep disorders, reduced glucose tolerance, increased blood pressure, and increased inflammatory markers".

Wait - there is more! 

Anxiety, stress, and "reduced social connectivity". 

Also, decreased attention spans, and the dreaded Cell Phone Neck Syndrome, a common repetitive stress injury from constantly looking down at The Screen.

As if that isn't enough, there is also the fact that smart phones are essentially data mining devices. And your data is the mine being exploited. 

Your personal data, which some people think you should own outright, is worth multi-billions to website owners and advertisers. 

The personal data for 18–24-year-olds is more sought after than any other demographic. 

The are The Target. 

Big Data wants your info in order to convince you to open your wallet through subtle digital manipulation.

Dumb phones are a way people can fight back and quit supporting Big Data, and social media platforms that are made purposefully addictive.

I hope Gen Z is actually simplifying, because that would be great for everyone. 

A smartphone costs a small fortune, while a dumb phone comes in at a fraction of the price.

More likely though, a Gen Zer will have two phones - a smart phone for when they want to be connected, and a dumb phone when they want to take a break.

Perhaps the dumb phone will help them see the light, and they will lead the way for the rest of society in tossing the "smarter" variety and relying solely on the "dumb" one.

When we limit our exposure to the digital dystopia, we begin to build healthier relationships in our communities where the real things that directly affect our lives are actually happening.

That is a good thing, for GenZ, and everyone else.

What is your phone? 

Smart, or dumb. 

Or both? 

Or neither? 

June 19, 2024

10 Frugal Tips for Hard Times

The Frugal Meal, Pablo Picasso

At one time frugality meant survival. It may again, and probably sooner than later. 

When this happens people will turn away from the marketplace, and rely on themselves and their communities to meet their needs.

Many wants will go out the window, but we may be better off without them.

Self-reliance, cooperation, and frugality will be the new currencies, ones that can't be inflated away.

In hard times frugality makes the difference between hardship, and getting by. 

Our very survival will depend on it again.

Frugal Tips For Hard Times

 1. Don't pay to have someone else do something you can do for yourself.

2. A cow and/or chickens and a garden can mean the difference between a fed family and famine.

3. Pay for things with goods or services rather than cash.

4. Eat low on the food chain. Beans, rice, and lentils can go a long way.

5. Keep everything small and simple and fly below the radar.

6. Learn and use the wisdom of Elders, as well as the enthusiasm and robustness of Youth. 

7. Cook/bake/make as much as you can from scratch.

8. Learn to hunt/trap/fish. You may never need these skills, but in the event that you do, it may be too late to learn.

9. Go car free, now, if you can.

10. Practice fix and repair to make things last.

If there was a most important life skill to learn today, it would be frugality.

It is an essential survival skill in good times, and in hard.

What are your favourite frugal tips?

June 18, 2024

Don't Waste - Look, Smell, Taste

"65 per cent of respondents report throwing out unopened food because its “best before” date has passed."  
- Agri-Foods Analytics 

Food past the best before date? Wait!

Don't throw it out just yet.

Best before dates have less to do with food safety, and more to do with peak freshness.

Once past the BBD, a food may not be as fresh, but it also may not be dangerous to eat.

With groceries getting more dear all the time, we must do everything we can to reduce waste and get our moneys worth out of the foods we buy.

That is why one campaign to decrease food waste asks consumers thinking about tossing products past their BBD to Look, Smell, and Taste first.

If the product passes the test, it is probably safe to eat.

By reducing food waste, we can reduce the impact of inflation, and perhaps even come out ahead in the end.

Look. Smell. Taste.

Then, if it passes, Eat and Enjoy while reducing waste, avoiding a potential poisoning, and saving money.

Note: those over 60 years of age may need to be careful as a reduction in the effectiveness of the senses may make this form of food testing less accurate.

June 16, 2024

Aging Out Of Consumerism

Watch for this to be promoted as "active living" for seniors.

"For the rest of the 21st century, the fastest-growing consumer group in the world will be people over the age of 60."

Oh, no.

Consumers have a best before date, and many of us around the world are reaching it.

It is a demonstrable fact that older people consume less.

With our current demographic shifts toward a higher percentage of older folks, the proponents of consumerism are panicking.

What will those who profit from it do when it all collapses due to the wrinklies tapping out?

They are desperately trying to find out why old people eventually give up on the shopping lifestyle.

Is it because the elderly already had everything they needed decades ago? 

It can't be - when has having everything  ever stopped people from buying more?

Or do we all eventually age out of doing self-harmful things once we become wise enough?

Let's face it - recreational shopping is an exhausting and taxing endeavour. 

Buying stuff is another full time job that must be managed. 

All that searching, buying, carrying home, storing, and maintenance takes a lot of time and energy, not to mention cold har cash.

A lifetime of acquisition is a slog to the end, when finally we all feebly raise the white flag atop our pile of mostly useless stuff, and retreat to a calmer lifestyle free of the obsession to own more.

As we age a lot of things change, including the fact that the psychological boost from buying ceases to give the kick that it used to. 

Our priorities begin to change. 

The older we get the more we come to realize there are more important things in life than frantically chasing after ever more stuff and "experiences". 

We learn that the relationships we have with the life around us is where it is at.

We realize that no one wishes they shopped more when on their death bed, and tap out before it's too late.

But don't count out the consumer scammers just yet. 

They have a solution to their demographic challenges, and that is to promote "active aging". 

That is code for "lets keep the oldies buying our stuff and services as long as we can".

I don't think they will be successful. Highly experienced folks are too smart for that. 

Old folks will continue to quit the marketplace, and retire from shopping to a slower, simpler, more satisfying end of life.

My prediction is that the growing grey tsunami will crash over the creaking consumer commercial enterprise and wash the whole thing into the ocean of history.

As a simple living old fogey myself, I look forward to hastening that process.

June 10, 2024

A Good Protest Song Can Change The World

Rampant consumerism might kill Barry James Payne before a freight train does.

Heard any good protest songs lately? 

Or do musicians even stick their necks out any more and risk the swinging hatchets of cancel culture and censorship?

I wouldn't blame their hesitancy after what happened to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton when they expressed their anti-official narrative opinions during the crazy covid years.

“Where have all the rebels gone?

Hiding behind computer screens. 

Where’s the spirit? Where’s the soul?

Where have all the rebels gone?”


- Van Morrison

In response the media warned of "the alarming rise of the Covid conspiracy rock star", even though the artists that spoke out have since been proven to be right about their protestations.

But at the time the songs were considered "dangerous" ditties that "created problems".

No doubt the powers that shouldn't be thought that the protest songs were killing grandmas around the world.

Canadian singer-songwriter Barry James Payne, aka String Bone, is another artist not holding back despite the dangers of speaking out in the New Normal years. 

I just heard his song,"Wow! Oh Yeah!", and it not just caught my attention, but demanded it. That is because he is taking on the madness of the consumer caper.

Of his song, the artists says, 

"We’ve created a pretty fucked up society from the capitalist money construct keeping people slaves to corporate overlords to the useless leaders in government who are bought off by the corporate overlords. Something has to give, and it’ll take a miracle. This song offers up some thoughts on the subject.”

His protest tune starts out,

"I sometimes wonder what would happen if people didn't shop in malls anymore, and decided to support local merchants?

That will probably never happen.

But it could." 

Click on the image below to listen to this powerful song, and let us know in a comment if you agree it is a rockin' tune with an important message to convey, while also being humorous.

After I listened to it, I was inspired to write my own lyric:

"I sometimes wonder what would happen if people decided to leave the consumer industrial complex behind to live happier simple lives.

That will probably never happen.

But it could.

And it would change the world."

Take a listen to "Wow! Oh Yeah!" by String Bone below. 

It's my new favourite protest song since the capable and courageous works by Morrison and Clapton.

What is your favourite new protest song?

June 5, 2024

Reddit Simple Living Community In Top 1% Largest

"I've lived in my DIY 270 sqft tiny house for over 5 years now...still in love with a simple lifestyle." - posted by trek2tinystudio on r/simpleliving

It seems like ancient history now, but back in the early 2010s I took over as moderator for an orphaned Reddit community formed around simple living. 

I came up with a tagline for my vision. I hoped it would be a case of "Build a good tagline and they will come".

Live Better With Less

Breaking free of the work/spend/borrow cycle in order to live more fully, sustainably, and cooperatively.

And come they did. Not sure if it was the tagline.

My goal was similar as for this blog, which was started around the same time. That goal was to share with as many people as possible, the benefits and joys of living more simply. 

That message was well received as it turned out. 

"Simple living for me is being able to grocery shop in my backyard." - posted on r/simpleliving.

The community began to grow, and over the years great things began to happen.

When I took r/simpleliving on it was a small group of 309 members.

After a while, it began to take off. New members were joining in great numbers.

Several awesome members stepped forward and offered to take over moderation of the increasingly busy site, which enabled me to step aside so I could focus more on the Not Buying Anything Blog.

I haven't been involved since then. The new moderators did an incredible job of keeping the growth going, and improving the site.

Cross-posted to r/simpleliving from r/antiwork.

I just noticed today, during a visit, that the small committed community I knew  has grown up and into the Top 1% Largest on Reddit.

I highly recommend visiting as a possible method to continue honing your own style of simplicity. 

There are many peaceful and inspiring posts to see there.

The success of r/simpleliving, that I helped kickstart so many years ago, makes me think that we just might make it after all.

Living better with less, and making sure everyone has enough.

That is what it is all about.

Well, that and laughing. 

The #1 largest community on Reddit is r/funny, with 60 million chuckling, chortling members. 

I can get behind that, too.


Something funny (and true) posted to r/simpleliving.