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Friday, July 8, 2011

“Living Simply” with what you need not what you want



Last night I attended the first session of the Living Simply Circle of the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County.  I knew I was in the right place when I pulled up at Oliver’s Carriage House and saw all the Priuses (Priusi?) and Obama bumper stickers. The Climate Change Initiative has circles on different topics.

For many people trying to live the simple life brings up images of Thoreau and Gandhi.  Do we find meaning in our lives in consuming? Have “things” replaced human interaction?  Are we all hoarders of “things?” Most of us decry the commercialism that has taken over our culture and our holidays. When is enough stuff enough? Why has shopping become the main leisure activity for so many people?

I want to propose a challenge to everyone.  Try to have "spending free days" each week when you will carry no money, checks or credit cards. You can then compare your quality of life on your “no buying days” with your normal spending days.  At the end of the period you can evaluate the experience and then see if you can increase your “no buying days.”  To make this a day of denial I would suggest that you plan an activity on the “no spending day” that you enjoy that doesn’t cost any money.  For me this is going to Borders picking out a book to read for an hour or two (but this week I will forgo the vanilla latte at Border’s that I love to have when reading).  

Maybe we will find that what Janis Joplin sang  “freedom just another word for nothing left to lose” is true when it comes to our need to own "stuff."

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure, but how does this reconcile with your own wants: metro stop, free ice skating? Perhaps no spending days should apply to the government as well.

Also, shopping as a leisure activity is exactly what keeps small business in business. A community will be hard pressed to have restaurants, theaters, etc. stay in business with a reduction in spending by its residents.

Spending money isn't a bad thing- as long as it's your own.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you essentially spending money just by driving to Borders? Gas isn't free, you know.

hoco connect said...

Maybe I should get some exercise,save gas and walk to Borders! Good point.

hoco connect said...

As to inconsistency with wanting a Metro stop and living simply life does have some trade offs. Using public transportation rather than driving a car isn't inconsistent with living simply. Living simply doesn't mean not supporting small businesses. In fact living simply may mean that we look for more small businesses to make our purchases. Using Local growers and merchants is more consistent with living simply than buying from large corporations. As to a no spending day for government I think we have seen some of that with employee furlough days recently. Doesn't stop all spending but public employees have sacrificed some money to keep public jobs.

Anonymous said...

Why not head to your local library to read for a few hours, rather than a Borders?

hoco Connect said...

Not a bad idea as we have a great county library but I couldn't go into a library and read one of the just released books. After I find a new book at the library at I start reading at Borders I frequently request it from the library on reserve.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that by buying from large corporations you are supporting many more small businesses, right? I work for a small (40+ employees), local, family run manufacturing business in the Baltimore area whose customers are for the most part large corporations. Stop buying from them and you put our business out of business. Big business vs small business is not a simple black/white, good guy/bad guy proposition.

columbia20something said...

My husband and I like to go on bike dates frequently. We'll dress up and bike to a park for a picnic or the library to read. It doesn't cost anything and it's so much fun!

Have you seen the movie "Affluenza?" It was made a good 15 years ago, but it's a nice tongue-in-cheek movie about our need to "buy, buy, buy." But, as they say, "money doesn't buy happiness!"

Anonymous said...

Great post, Duane. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Using public transportation rather than driving a car isn't inconsistent with living simply."

Actually, it is. You're talking about bringing a metro stop to a community where nearly everyone has a car. Therefore, we would have cars AND a metro. That's not living simply, it's quite the opposite. I don't think anywhere near the majority of HoCo wants to get so dense where we no longer need cars.

Trevor said...

I appreciate the post, and you make some great points. Buuuuuut, I have to say, by going to Borders, reading one of their books, and not buying anything (not even a cup of coffee?) you are hurting a local business. They have to pay for the rent of their facility that you sat in, the salaries of their employees that had to clean the place after you left, the BG&E bill for the air conditioning and the lighting you utilized, the permits and licenses needed to own a place of business in Maryland, and countless other fees we can't even begin to imagine.

You really hurt a local business by going there and not bringing money and not buying something.

Next time I urge you to consider buying that book from Borders, or at least buying a cup of coffee or something.

Anonymous said...

Trevor- that's an excellent point. This guy's idea of "living simply" is more like "living off of someone else", based on the Borders example. I don't understand how he sees that as something desirable.

Hope you aren't in charge of any budgets said...

Hey! Your "go to Borders and sit but don't buy anything" plan was stellar!