What is Simple Living?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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Have you ever heard of voluntary simplicity? It is another term used to describe the concept of simple living. Both terms refer to a basic lifestyle often one in which people “live off the land.” Some people embrace the idea of simple living as a lifestyle that helps to protect the environment. Some just prefer this way of life to the hectic existence of many consumers. Others do not approve of corporatism, capitalism, or consumerism, and choose simple living on principle.

Voluntary simplicity may actually be the more accurate term since simple living should not be confused with having only the most basic necessities due to poverty. Simple living is a chosen lifestyle, and that choice may be based on a variety of issues. People who choose this lifestyle feel as if they get something out of it, not as if they are doing without.

Simple living means that every available resource is utilized in a way that makes the most of each one. For example, fruits and vegetables are planted and harvested and then that food is eaten for nourishment. Waste from that food such as peels, stems, and cores that are not eaten, can then be made into compost. The compost is used for fertilizer with which to grow more food. It becomes a cycle.


Simple living also has a spiritual aspect for some. People of many different faiths believe that they are to trust in their God to provide for their needs and that they are not intended to long for the trappings of the secular world. The Amish for instance, are one group of religious people that have transformed simple living beyond a lifestyle and into an art form. They subscribe to a lifestyle of working hard to meet basic needs and are not consumed by luxury or extravagance.

This is something else about simple living that many people do not realize. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple living requires hard work often from sunrise to sunset. Planting, milking, hunting, butchering, harvesting, cooking, building, and many other chores are necessary, some each day, depending on how far people take simple living. Some may actually use technology such as a computer, yet run it with wind or solar generated electricity. Clearly, simple living means different things to different people, but the overall concept is one of getting back to basics.


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Post 3

@bythewell - You don't have to go to that kind of extreme in everyday life though. Simple living can even mean using a permanent water bottle rather than buying bottled water every day, or growing some herbs in a pot rather than using processed sauces in your foods. Every little bit helps.

Post 2

@browncoat - People should do whatever they want to do, but I don't actually think that that's a solution to the problems the world is facing. I think that voluntary simple living that still takes advantage of the modern world is the best way to go.

There are people in some modern cities who live in tiny apartments that have been made to change shape to accommodate different purposes. They can't have many material things because there is no room for them but they have everything they need without making many sacrifices.

If more people lived like that and shared common land like parks and gardens, we'd have a much healthier world.

Post 1

Something I read about recently that was pretty interesting was that the Amish aren't trying to be simple or traditional per sec. They will use certain kinds of technology. They are more interested in sustainable living than in simple living. They live off the grid because they don't want to be beholden to other people, but certain communities will still use things like solar panels and telephones in some circumstances.

They prefer to grow and trade their food within their own community and use horses rather than cars because they won't ever be cut off from the sources of those things. I still wouldn't want to live that kind of life, but I can definitely understand it better now.

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