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Living a Simpler Life

Updated on September 26, 2011

The economic downturn in the western world is causing uneasiness and in some cases real hardship in many households. We have become an consumer society with a 'must have it all and must have it now' mentality. Instant gratification is seen as a right with any apparent concern as to the cost both financially or morally.Credit cards are maxed out and substantial loans for luxury goods (perceived as necessities) undertaken lightly and I must say encouraged by some of the more irresponsible financial companies.

Having lived for many years in remote locations I was unaware of the pressure being put on families living in towns and cities to conform to certain expectations of lifestyle - designer labels, eating out and winter and summer holidays and even weekly shopping done on line and delivered to the door. So many resources being used to support a lifestyle far removed from the simple life I was used to living.

We grew most of our own food and had our own hens that ranged freely in the small orchard I had planted when we moved into the farm. We ate only food that was in season and produced locally( how strange it is for me to see strawberries on sale in the supermarket near Christmas) or foraged from the hedgerows or fields , bread was baked every morning and a batch of cakes once a week. Eating out was reserved for very special occasions and we lived too far out for the takeaway shops to deliver!

Clothes were functional and weatherproof for everyday wear but 'best' clothes worn when going to Mass or the rare social occasion. Mending, patching and darning occupied at least one evening a week and shoes and boots polished every evening ready for the next day. When I see hand knitted cardigans in fashion shoots in the magazines I am horrified at the price and frequently embarrass my grandchildren(unintentionally) by announcing that I could knit that for less than a quarter of the price but of course I don't have a designer label

Beauty treatments, such as they were, were homemade using ingredients from the pantry -honey, oatmeal, lemons and eggs spring to mind and rainwater gathered in the water butt for washing the hair. If you were blonde lemon juice was put in the final rinsing water and if you were dark haired a few drops of vinegar was used instead to make it shiny. Firewood was gathered whenever the opportunity presented itself and pine cones were used to get the fire going and also filled the house with a lovely smell.

Commonsense tells me that this simple way of life is not completely possible for the city dweller but some aspects can be adopted and adapted by those who would like to experience something different . It is possible to grow small amounts of vegetables in pots or tubs, seasonal food can be bought from farmers markets and bread is easy to make and very delicious warm from the oven.Mending and darning can give a sense of achievement as well as prolong the life of the garment and knitting is easily learned with a litle bit of patience and can be come addictive!

Take a moment to consider the resources that the modern way of life uses - the packaging, the transport of food, the chemicals, the raw materials and then think again of the word resource and split it into two syllables - re - source and see if there are any changes you may consider in the pursuit of a simpler life. Try it and see, you may even enjoy it.


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